The river is about as stable as it can get with flows out of Palisades Dam at 12500 cfs for over a week. Riffle fishing has been good. Try pink albert life cycle patterns with thorax dun, cripples, and emergers being the best candidates. Switch from one to the other to see which suits fish best in any riffle. Nocturnal golden stones have yet to make a significant appearance. Ant and beetle patterns work well along well vegetated banks and hoppers are coming on. Try any big floating pattern with an ant dropper and watch cutts take that ant. Also two-nymph rigs presented over drop-offs will produce.
The US Highway 26 seal coating project is not as big a delay as first thought for those folks heading to Conant and Swan Valleys and above. Sections of the highway have reduced speed limits and waits required by flagger orders are usually around 15-20 minutes if at all.
The outflow from Island Park Dam has cleared resulting in much better fishing in the river below down to Riverside Campground. The reason for this rather sudden clear-up seems obscure, but a good analysis for its presence and of the previous suspended residue within can be seen on the 7/22/16 Henry’s Fork Anglers fishing report. Mike Lawson wrote it. This guy’s life time of Henry’s Fork experience more than matches that of ALL HF enthusiasts that walk into his business. When he writes/speaks on the Henry’s Fork, it is time to read/listen.
If I were going to fish the river below the dam and Box Canyon, I would concentrate a variety of terrestrial patterns on board. With respect to mayflies, flavs and PMDs are decreasing in the Last Chance-Harriman reach, but speckled duns are coming on. I’d do the same with respect to terrestrial patterns in the Cardiac Canyon reach, but also have large stonefly nymph patterns on board and hope for some overcast weather (even a passing thundershower (we sure need moisture anyway)) which makes for the best time to present them.
Some of the fastest fishing in the park can be experienced currently at Beula Lake. Speckled dun and damselfly emergences and egg laying actions will bring cutthroat trout to the surface, while nymph and small leech patterns will interest those staying subsurface. Getting there is a bit slow because of the Ashton-Flagg Ranch surface condition and the 2.5 mile hike, but there are no major road construction projects to deal with on the way as are underway on US Highways 20 and 26.
If you are concerned about slower fishing this season on the river from Box Canyon to Riverside Campground, read and consider the “River Is Changing, We’re On It” article on the Henry’s Fork Foundation web site home page.
Flow out of Henry’s Lake has been raised to 100 cfs and Henry’s Lake Outlet section was stocked with rainbows in early July. With low flows out of the lake early in the year, not as many as usual trout escaped to the outlet. However, trout stocked earlier this month and any from the lake will tend to stay in the outlet until flows drop, then they will migrate to the river below. Good fishing can happen for folks presenting terrestrial patterns here. Concentrate these presentations where the river flows though willow thickets at the top and bottom of the Flat Ranch Preserve, and be sure to check in (and out) at the Ranch Visitor Center to help in the Nature Conservancy’s efforts to maintain the property. Only “fly in the ointment” is the travel delays because of construction on US Highway 20 to the south.
Daniels Reservoir continues to offer the best still water trout fishing in reservoirs to the south. Damselfly nymph patterns and midge pupa patterns, both under an indicator, bring most interest from trout. Although not really still water fishing, right below Oneida Narrows Dam has been good with bead head nymph and streamer patterns. Both trout and bass respond. Sand Creek Pond #4 offers slow fishing during daytime, but for those beginning fishing at first light results are much better until daytime heat begins. Try damselfly nymph and small leech patterns. The lack of invasive species check stations makes boating and fishing from boats on Franklin County still waters inconvenient for visitors and anglers coming from the north. Horseshoe Lake was stocked with grayling last September and rainbow trout this June. Most enjoyable fishing there is to present speckled dun emerger and adult patterns in front of lily pad beds. Has anyone tried fishing Teardrop Lake (Snow Creek Pond) off the Fish Creek Road? It was stocked with rainbow trout back in June and hosts hold-overs.
Flow out of Mackay Dam was raised a little recently, but at slightly over 400 cfs wading is a bit difficult. Western green drakes are finished, but terrestrial insects are coming on. Fishing has been somewhat slow, but nymphing with PMD patterns is a good method for some success. The same for presenting patterns simulating aquatic or washed-in worms (SJ worm, medium sized woolly buggers). Flows will drop as irrigation demands diminish and calls for storage in the reservoir increase. Such should make for better wading conditions during the trico activity later this summer..
It looks like our hot dry weather will continue indefinitely. This will impact fishing on many of our small streams for weeks to come as flows drop and waters warm. Resulting reduced cover contributes to less fishing success, but the overlying reason is that higher water temperatures mean less dissolved oxygen. Less dissolved oxygen means fish cannot be as active, and larger fish are impacted particularly. Reduced dissolved oxygen also impacts aquatic insect activity. Here are some thoughts that may help in making a choice in small streams. Any stream with a good component of water coming from springs will be less impacted by the current weather. Birch Creek, Big Elk Creek, Tom Creek, Warm River, and the Fort Hall Reservation spring creeks are good examples. Palisades Creek has a good flow throughout the season for an unusual reason. That is the two sizeable lakes in its drainage having a good component of (lower Palisades Lake) or total (Upper Palisades Lake) subterranean water in their outflow to the creek. There others that are good candidates for a visit this time of year. Come in and talk to us. We can help in making a small stream selection for a good fly-fishing experience.
Some green drakes remain on Yellowstone River where it is open to fishing in the Hayden Valley area. Pelican Creek, except for the lower two miles, is now open to fishing, but is only a shadow of its former self. Some post-spawning cutthroat are heading back to the lake and will take most small or medium sized fly patterns offered. Beula Lake is living up to its reputation of being a great fishery. Try small leech and damselfly nymph patterns for best wet flies. Dry adult damsel patterns work well close to shorelines and lily pad beds before and after mid-day winds take over. Look for speckled dun and cinnamon caddis life cycle patterns to be effective soon. Only “fly in the ointment” is that the Ashton-Flagg Road is rough and dusty, so drive carefully. If you plan to enter the Park west entrance from the south via U. S. Highway 20, see our road construction delay comments on the Henry’s Fork fishing report.
If you plan to fish the Henry’s Fork above Island Park Reservoir, Henry’s Lake, the Madison River, or Yellowstone Park via the West Entrance, be aware of the U. S. Highway 20 road construction from about Pond’s Lodge to Island Park Village (at the south side of Henry’s Lake Flat). The result is travel delays up to one hour. Expect these delays to continue into September. Only practical alternative is to take Interstate 15 to Monida, Montana then the South Valley Road across the Centennial Valley and over Red Rock Pass then around Henry’s Lake to Highway 20 above the construction. So plan accordingly. Meanwhile, enjoy trout responding to the remaining PM flavs, AM rusty spinners, and growing terrestrial insect population from Last Chance on downstream or nymphing in Box Canyon.
Even though it is the dog days of summer, the fishing still continues to be good on the South Fork. The Salmon flies are starting to end on the upper section in Swan Valley, but the Golden Stones are fishing well throughout the whole river. Also, I would recommend fishing a dry dropper with the Golden Stone and a small nymph below it. The best fishing has still been in the riffles with a Pink Comparadun and an emerger. The flows are continuing to stay stable around 13,000 cfs, and there is no word on dropping the South Fork. Although if I had a day off, I would spend it on the South Fork fishing dry flies.
Flies I would use:
Nymphs: Bennett’s Brown Rubber Leg size 6 & 8, Pearl Lightning Bug size 16, Red Copper John size 14, Bead Headed Pheasant Tail Crystal Flash size 16
Streamers: Gallop’s Yellow Dungeon, Kreelix Copper/Gold, Gallop’s White Peanut Envy, Sparkle Minnow, Flash Minnow.
Dry Flies: John’s CFO Yellow Sallie size 14, Kyle’s Yellow Sallie size 12, Super Chernobyl Golden size 10 (A.K.A Chubby), CFO Flamer size 8, CW Pink Albert Dun size 16, Pink Albert Captive Dun size 16,