Best news here is that the recent cool, wet weather has brought the lower river back to life. Mahogany duns, BWOs, and midges are making for great dry fly fishing. Early and late in the day streamers are attracting large trout around overhead cover. On the upper river flow out of Island Park Dam is around 300 cfs as water storage kicks in. Try two-nymph rigs during daytime. When clouds prevail try high-sticking big stonefly nymphs. Switch to streamers as daylight fades.
Fishing is really improving here, and that means all around the lake. Creek mouths well, especially the Howard Creek/State park area. The lake is low, and winds will stir up exposed silt. This action means that large leech patterns presented on either a floating or intermediate line are working well when fishing discolored water. Around creek mouths try patterns Everet recommends in the September 9th report. Also consider trying a prince nymph or snail pattern(both #12-14) under an indicator and in shallow water. Experiment a bit to find the taking depth. Be sure to watch the wind/weather up at Henry’s this time of year, the weather can change quickly!
Mahogany duns and BWOs are making for some of the best top water fishing of the year here. The weather is ideal for these mayflies to hatch, crowds are down, fall colors are coming on, and flow out of Palisades Dam has been hovering around 5000 cfs for a week making for great walk-in wading conditions. All this adds up to a great time to visit this best of rivers. Come in for a visit and to get information on some of the best locations .
Sand Creek Pond #4
For decades these ponds owned by Idaho Fish and Game have provided good fishing for the public. Amongst other reasons they were established to help support the elk herd wintering in the area. They are the still waters furthest west of the string of small reservoirs located in or near hillside hollows north and west of Ashton. All these except for Sand Creek Ponds are private waters. Some are closed to the public, others can be fished for a fee. Still waters at Sand Creek consist of four ponds, above which is Blue Creek Reservoir. In this year of drought only the largest, Pond # 4, offers fishing. From Highway 20 turn left onto the St. Anthony Highway 20 Business Loop. Cross the Del Rio Bridge, and turn right at the sign indicating 16 miles to the ponds. After a few miles pavement gives out to twelve miles of dusty but well maintained gravel. Pond #4 is the first that comes into view, and circling around its west end one takes a right to approach the primitive boat dock. There are restrictions on all of these ponds. Yearly one cannot launch a boat on any pond until after July 15th. Boats on all ponds must be non-motorized. Pontoon boats and float tubes are ideal for fishing these ponds, although hard sided boats work, too, but because occupants typically stand while fishing they are more visible to fish. Speaking of fish: rainbow trout are the main occupants of the ponds, and they grow to trophy sizes. A lesser population brook trout is also present. One can fish from the south and west banks where rip rap piled to form the pond is topped with enough soil to form grassy banks. These banks are usually populated by local bait and lure anglers, an their stories of big fish encounters can be entertaining. When one goes onto the surface of these ponds, the rich farm ponds of the rural southeastern and mid western states come to mind. Here are copious lily pads, cat tails and islands of bull rushes. No bull frogs or turtles are present though. Neither are “big mouth bass” catfish, crappie, or brim. Also no snapping turtles or water moccasins to the extreme joy of anglers using soft sided boats! When allowed on the pond surface by boat, the emergence one can expect is that of damselflies, and a most effective way to encounter some of the lunker ‘bows is through presenting dry adult damselfly renditions. A bit later in the season speckled duns and caddis emerge with resulting gulpers taking action. As summer advances presenting grasshopper patterns on the surface can be productive as windy days blow them in from adjacent grasslands. All the season long midge pupa, small leech, small fly rod jigs and snail patterns will work subsurface. Best times to be on these ponds are early and late in the day. Primitive campsite are near by to help in being on the water at these times. Bring water and take out your trash. being adjacent to the Island Park caldera thunder storms an be frequent, so be prepared.
We fished Big Elk Creek during yesterday’s beautiful weather. The flav hatch is winding down significantly. They made an appearance around 3 PM, and after about 45 minutes ceased. Likewise, interest from cutts on what was going by on the surface pretty much shut down when flavs ceased. Cutts we caught looked prosperous enough. Compare that duration in time to the hatch in early and mid August which goes on for hours. A small, light colored mayfly emerged later with a few rises responding. We did not capture one but the slate cream dun could be a possibility.
The flow has dropped twice in the past 24 hours and is down to 4910 cfs out of Palisades. These drops are inevitable this time of year as the irrigation demand reduces. Usually it takes a day for the fish to adjust. The water temperature is also dropping (from 64 on Tuesday to 60 this morning)which is very good news and we are starting to see good numbers of Mahogany Duns and Blue Wing Olives.
*On Sunday a rod and reel was left at the Twin Bridges ramp. It is a sage FLI and is personalized with the owners name (Jeff King). If you happened to find it please give Jeff a call at 208-206-3713.
The bad news here is that silt coming out of American Falls Dam is smothering fish big time in the river below. There looks like no end to this as the reservoir is a 4% of useable capacity and dropping. So do not expect the great fall fishing experienced last year. This means concentrate your efforts on the river above the reservoir where streamer fishing is about to kick in as flow there drops.
Here’s a bit more information on southeast Idaho irrigation reservoirs. For the last three weeks Chesterfield and Twenty-Four Mile have been filling but remain low enough to discourage most fishing. Daniels Reservoir offers the best fishing of these because of a minimum conservation pool guaranteed by agreement between water users and IDF&G. Try midge pupa deep under an indicator or anything that looks like a damselfly nymph also under an indicator. As water levels drop in Island Park Reservoir trout not leaving for the river above are heading towards west end springs . Concentrate your efforts over these, and be sure to try bloodworm patterns under an indicator.
Some small streams will remain good fishing for several weeks to come. These include the Palisades Reservoir tributaries, Blackfoot, Buffalo, Fall, Warm, Teton, and Warm Rivers; Birch, Bitch, Medicine Lodge, and Robinson Creeks. Another one to consider is Grey’s River. A Wyoming non-resident day fishing license is an affordable $15, and the river is just southeast of Alpine, Wyoming. The countryside is particularly beautiful around this classic freestone stream and Snake River fine spotted cutthroat are the only trout resident above the first few miles. The Grey’s is a PM fishery needing to warm for both insects and fish to become active. Some caddisflies and a few flavs remain to attract trout, but terrestrial patterns are the best way to success.
With flow out of Mackay Dam down to 170 cfs, wading the river below is easy. Just remember that a lot of private land borders the river here. You are legal by walking within the high water mark, so respect the private land and enjoy tricos in the morning and BWOs later in the day. Look for the river below the dam to drop further as the water storage season begins.