The Bugs have finally reached the Swan Valley in full force. From about Husky/Palisades boat ramp down, the dry fly fishing with Salmon flies and Golden Stones along the bank is great. Then in the rifles from about 1 o’clock to 4 o’clock the PMD action has also been fishing well. Although, the canyon section of the South Fork still has ton of bugs and is still fishing spectacular with Salmon flies, Golden Stones, Sallies, and PMDs. Then as you continue further down the river from Byington boat ramp down, small Golden stones and PMDs are the main ticket. However, the PMDs did take awhile to start in the rifles, beginning around 1 o’clock. The flows on the South Fork have stayed constant at 14,500 cfs at Irwin.
Dry Flies that I would use are: Brett’s Salmon Fly size 6, Super Chernobyl Pink size 6, CFO Yellow Flamer size 8, CFO Sally X Stone fly size 16, Pink Comparadun size 16 and 18, and a Harrop’s CDC Pink Albert Biot Emerger size 16.
Nymphs and Streamers that I would use are: Brown Rubber Leg size 8, Red Copper John size 16, Pearl Lightning Bug size 16, Kraft’s Kreelex Minnow Gold/Copper size 4, and Gallop’s Yellow Dungeon size 2.
Drake hatches in the Last Chance-Harriman stretch are pretty much over. Now it is on to flavs with PMDs. During these hot dry days fishing early morning spinner falls with your favorite rusty spinner pattern is not only pleasant but productive. The river below Ashton Reservoir is warming meaning slowing action. Evening caddis activity and AM spinner falls is best time to fish. Below Chester Dam irrigation demands have lowered and warmed the river to the point it’s hardly worth a visit. There is some action on the Flat Ranch section of the Henry’s Lake Outlet section for those folks using PMD life cycle and dry damselfly patterns. But if a bigger early season flush had taken place a lot more fish would be present.
On so many of these you can escape crowds as well as fireworks noise. Here’s a sampler of info on some of the better small streams.
Fall River flow is extremely low and warm because of irrigation demands. Fish it early ( favorite spinner patterns) or fish it late (caddis life cyle patterns). Could be good swimming during daytime hours!
Teton River in the basin is fishing quite well, in good shape, and the scenery fantastic. There are several public access locations along the river and in Idaho you are legal while moving around within the high water mark. During mid-day hours expect interruptions from recreational boaters. Fish the early AM spinner fall with your favorite rusty spinner pattern. Or in the evening try caddis, PMD life cycle patterns, sallys, and do not overlook presenting your favorite dry golden stonefly pattern.
The Blackfoot River above the reservoir opened on July 1st. The premier location here is the river going through the Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area, the former Stocking Ranch. Flow here is near normal. Look for PMDs, a few evening brown drakes, ants and beetles.With all the visits going on at the South Fork and the Henry’s Fork, this gorgeous small river is mostly overlooked.
McCoy Creek has dropped and biggest fish are back in the reservoir. Nevertheless, fishing for moderately sized cutthroat is good and particularly fun with dry patterns. In its middle stretch where meadows are present, this stream is a great place to take an entry level person or youngster.
Warm River below Warm River Spring will always be a good candidate for a visit . Best way to escape crowds on the lower river is to walk up the railroad grade above the campground, then descend to the river. Another way is to drive to Warm River Spring, park in any pull out on approaching the spring, then walk downstream. Try PMD and caddisfly life cycle patterns. You may see a few golden stoneflies. Your favorite ant and beetle patterns will also be effective.
We have a lot more thoughts on fishing these and other small waters. Get in touch or visit the shop, and we can provide more details.
Big news here is that speckled duns are now ( we saw their spinners on Shoshone Lake at 8000 feet yesterday during wind-free periods) emerging from most of our still waters. With very warm weather predicted for next week, fishing early and late in the day could be most productive. As water warms up, seek sources of coll water available to trout. This means locate spring holes and fish creek or river inlets.
Big stoneflies are as far upstream as between Quake and Hebgen Lakes. That means lots of folks are fishing this piece of water. Below Quake lake the Madison river is low and warming up. Flow in the Beaverhead River is up and down depending on irrigation demands.
All kinds of bugs are popping out from the river these days. PMDs and green drakes are bringing action. Sallys are emerging from many locations. Caddisflies are out in their usual good numbers.The big stoneflies are on the river as far upstream as Burns Creek. Remembering that fish in the river are now selective, if life cycle patterns of one of the above discussed insects does not seem to be of interest, switch to those of another insect because South Fork trout are famed for not always being consistent with respect to feeding preference. Other than a 500 cfs jump in flow out of Palisades Dam early last Thursday AM, the river has been physically stable for several days. This will result in continuation of good fishing for days to come.
Here’s an FYI for folks wanting to use floatation devices on Park still waters and using the Park West Entrance. Floatation boat permits and inspections are no longer available at the West Yellowstone Visitor’s Center. The nearest they are available is at the Old Faithful Backcountry Ranger Office.
We took float tubes into Shoshone Lake via the Delacey Creek trail yesterday. The lake is low with warmer than normal water (48 deg. F.). Submerged weed beds are not very numerous. Juvenile lake trout responded well to black leech and various steamer patterns featuring black and yellow. The Firehole River is warming, and fewer fly-fishers are trying it as a result. Not many fly-fishers were on the Madison along the West Entrance Road also suggesting slower fishing.
Streams in the northeast portions of the Park (Lamar River drainage) are beginning shape up, dropping and clearing, that is. Some of the best fishing right now in that neck of the woods is at Trout Lake. As we advance in to summer, however, fishing slows there with weed growth and warming waters. If you are considering a visit there, do so in the next several days. Some of the largest cutthroat-rainbow trout in Park waters await you. They may even take that dry damselfly pattern if they are tired of a leech and midge pupa diet!
The Last Chance-Harriman State Park reach of the river is crowded, and rightfully so. One way to beat the crowds is to try the early morning or evening spinner fall. Green drakes and PMDs are going strong, and caddis are everywhere. Any day now brown drakes in the evening will become significant. On the lower river, Warm River to Ashton and below Ashton Dam, caddis and PMDs and diminishing golden stoneflies attract fish. As with the upper river, ant and beetle patterns fished near banks will interest fish. It looks like this will be a lean year for gray drakes in the evenings, but this time of day can be great for presenting streamers around stream side cover out of direct sunlight.
Looks like warm weather is here in a serious manner, and it will effect small streams and still waters the most. Many of them are at their best before waters drop to near base level and warm.
Many of our small streams host beaver ponds. Even the best of these ponds are not much more than several feet deep, and with little movement of water through them, their water tends to warm quickly. So especially for these (Jackknife Creek, McCoy Creek,Cranes Creek, Little Warm River), now is the best time for a visit. Leech patterns in black or olive are always a good choice hese. If you prefer top water fishing, dry damsel adult, and speckled dun patterns work well. So does a hair mouse or frog pattern if very large trout inhabit the pond. Later on, add terrestrial patterns to the mix of patterns to consider.
With respect to small streams in general, those with a large component of spring inflow ( upper Birch Creek, Big Elk Creek, upper Bitch Creek) or lakes with underground outlets (Palisades Creek) have a better chance of maintaining water levels and nice water temps through the summer. But for many other small streams not so fortunate, now is the time to enjoy them, and we can help you make choice.