Monthly Archives: August 2016

Small Streams 8-30-16

There is a great and, when you think about it, attractive resource that we in the fly-fishing community make not much use of. That resource is the U. S. Forest Service rental cabins. Many of these structures were originally built in relatively remote places for housing personnel assigned to fire watch, law enforcement patrol, and other functions.  In our area Caribou-Targhee National Forest offers several of these.  Some of these are adjacent to places to fish which for the most part are small streams.  So it is worth taking a look at these in particular.

Perhaps the one with which folks are most familiar is the Warm River Cabin situated at Warm River Spring.  It appears most of its use is from winter time activities.  Being only a moderate cast away, it offers a most convenient base for fishing the river above and below the spring. Being not far from the Cardiac Canyon reach of the Henry’s Fork or the Harriman Fish Pond, it offers not only tranquility, but convenience for fishing these waters.

The Squirrel Meadows Guard Station is another one frequently use for winter time and hunting activities, but being just off the Ashton-Flagg Road just inside Wyoming, it is a great base for accessing Fall River and Beula and Hering Lakes in Yellowstone Park.  Not far away are Fall River in Idaho, the Boone Creek beaver ponds, Cascade Creek, Fish Lake, Lake of the Woods, Tillery Lake, and Grassy Lake Reservoir in Wyoming. That array of nearby waters makes this cabin extremely attractive for those wanting to fish back country waters.

The Stump Creek Guard Station would make a great base from which to fish Idaho’s Salt River tributaries. It is on the Lander Cut-Off of the Oregon Trail just inside the Idaho border with Wyoming. Stump Creek goes right by with Tincup, South Fork of Tincup, Jackknife, and Crow Creeks not far away.

The Al Taylor Cabin is west of Kilgore and off Forest Road 006. Not many folks venture to this area.  Nearby West Camas and Cottonwood Creeks offer fast fishing for small brook trout. Think of a weekend at this cabin while catching enough brookies for an evening fish fry!

Johnson Guard Station on the Diamond Creek Road offers a base from which to fish the upper Blackfoot River and its tributaries. The Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area is only a few miles away. Nearby Diamond Creek offers small stream and beaver pond fishing for brook and cutthroat trout.

Each of these cabins has particulars with respect to facilities, what is offered, and what is required,  Fees are similar for each and each is really convenient and a bargain when compared to more distant commercial accommodations. You can view particulars for each on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest web site home page.  Click the cabin rental bar to see these particulars. You will see that there are other rental cabins in the Forest.

Still Water 8-27-16

Compared to our numerous more renowned still waters Horseshoe Lake is almost on the “Where’s That?” list. It is remote, not frequently fished, has (at best) primitive facilities, and hosts no self-sustaining salmonid population.  But Horseshoe Lake has an attraction no other eastern Idaho water can boast: Montana grayling.  The lake has no inlet and outlet needed, in suitable condition, for their spawning.  Thus its stock of grayling is replenished each year from a Montana hatchery ( rainbow trout released here come from an Idaho hatchery). A resident grayling here is a “braggin’ fish” if it grows to a foot long, nevertheless they are beautiful to behold, and because of their near endangered status a privilege to catch and release. Resident rainbow trout, also stocked, outnumber them here on a near 10:1 basis, so patience is required to encounter one.  The lightest weight in fly rod systems is most appropriate for presentations, and “small” applies to fly patterns. Standard nymph patterns with or without bead heads and soft hackled patterns, both in size 16 or smaller and presented on a floating line and long slender tippet are good choices for achieving interest from grayling.  However during wind-free times when rise forms are numerous, nothing beats presenting small (#18 and smaller) dry patterns such as adams, light cahill, and purple haze, all in more visible parachute form, to these fish. You may have to get through several rainbows of similar size before one of these strikes. That makes catching and releasing one even more of a privilege.

Horseshoe Lake is about twenty-five miles east of Ashton.  Its road, winding northeasterly, leaves the Cave Falls Road about a mile east of the LDS Church’s Rock Creek Girl’s Camp. It’s a fairly rough road with pot holes, rocks, and lots of dust. Tires in good shape and cautious speeds are required.  There are a few non-motorized boat launching sites at the northwest corner of the lake, and flotation devices are most suited for fishing.  The best chance for action is through locating in front of the west side lily pad beds where fish cruise looking for emerging aquatic insects.  Good Luck!

Yellowstone Park 8-23-16

With the close of the Yellowstone River drainage waters in Montana, there is a chance that the same could happen to the river in the Park. The Park is extremely protective of its natural resources, and rightfully so. We will watch this situation, and you can do the same by going to the Yellowstone Park web site. Presenting terrestrial patterns brings the best chance for action on almost all Park streams this time of year.  The fastest action on still waters will be enjoyed the most on such as Beula and Riddle Lakes where gulpers work until the wind comes up.  Then switching to small bead head nymph or leech patterns takes over as being most effective.

South Fork 8-23-16

Stable and good quality water means good fishing continues on the river. The Great Feeder has been shut down meaning more water in the river below Byington.  Mutant golden stoneflies are emerging. Wes Newman’s Super X has been around a long time, but it works as well as other patterns for these stoneflies. Chernobyl types also fished on top early and again late in the day are also a good choice. Using two nymph rigs  of small bead head patterns is the most productive approach for fishing drop-offs around riffles now that hatches have diminished a bit. Try caddislfy life cycle patterns in the evening, and consider pitching a streamer pattern after the sun leaves the water.

Henry’s Fork 8-23-16

For the Last Chance to Riverside section of river AM trico and mid day terrestrial activity offer the bet chances for action.  It is the time of year when presenting honey ant patterns is particularly effective. At sunset and after, consider drifting that hair mouse pattern through locations known to host very large trout. Two-nymph rigs using small bead head patterns seem to offer best action in Box Canyon. From Cardiac Canyon down to Ashton Reservoir presenting terrestrial insect and caddis life cycle patterns are effective late in the day. Presenting streamer patterns late in the day anywhere in this water could get you into a fish of the year.

Big Lost River 8-23-16

Flow out of Mackay Dam is well over 300 cfs meaning wading immediately downstream should be done with some care. Early morning trico activity and late in the day caddis activity are providing action.  With flow at the current level, such as San Juan worms or small woolly buggers can bring action.

Small Streams 8-23-16

Our hot and dry summer has impacted fishing on many of our smaller waters. For example, flow in the Blackfoot River above the reservoir is almost half of normal.  That means high water temperatures which make it tough for trout to recover after being caught and released. Below the reservoir high and discolored water of varying flow prevail and will continue until the first of October. Thanks to Warm River Spring inflow, Warm River offers very good fishing for miles below where brookies, browns, and ‘bows are responding well to caddis life cycle and terrestrial insect patterns.  Teton River in the basin is fishing well if you are willing to put up with the recreational boaters. You can get away from most of them by fishing downstream of the State Highway 33 Bridge. There is not as much water here as above the bridge, but enough to be a destination.  Terrestrial patterns will be your best bet for action.  The afternoon flav emergence on Big Elk Creek continues to offer good fishing with kokanee entering the creek in good numbers.  Palisades Creek is another good bet to try with caddis fly life cycle, traditional attractor and terrestrial insect patterns bringing action.

Still Waters 8-23-16

The gulper event on Hebgen Lake remains the best still water fishing in the region. The gulper event on Beula Lake in Yellowstone Park is also very good.  Gulper activity happens on any still water when callibaetis mayflies emerge in abundance. Sand Creek Pond #4, Elk, Wade, Springfield, and Horseshoe Lakes can host good ones, but timing is important because these can vary in time water for water. On some of these, good emergences begin in Mid-July, on others gulpers last well into September. Also time of day can vary. The famed Hebgen event happens during AM hours, but on other locations afternoons offer the best gulper fishing. Forget about gulper fishing anywhere when wind comes up, and we have had plenty of that this season.