A good hard cold snap would be just what is needed for good fishing action to begin on Henry’s Lake. For every report of success we have seen there are numbers of ones without successful fishing. If you are considering trying the lake, head for creek mouths (Targhee, Duck, Howard) or springs with intermediate lines and standard Henry’s Lake patterns.. But expect company, especially if you get into fish.
All the South Fork-Palisades Reservoir tribs will be good fishing this coming week end, but they likely will be crowded. That’s particularly true of Big Elk Creek where run-up kokanee attract legal and not so legal fishing. Each of these, excepting Bear Creek, have nearby popular campgrounds. Nevertheless fish in all of these will respond well to terrestrial insect, flav, caddis and traditional attractor patterns. There will be numbers of day time recreationists on the Teton River in the basin, so fish it early and late in the day. Lower Warm River will be crowded and likely the same for the upper river in the Pole Bridge Campground area. There will likely be fewer enthusiasts on the river just below Warm River Spring because no campground is adjacent. And so it goes: expect lots of fly-fishers and other anglers if a campground is nearby. Some candidates places less likely to be crowded include the upper Blackfoot River, lower Fall River, lower Teton River, Bitch Creek, and Salt River tributaries. Want more information on any of these? Get in touch with us.
There was a bear incident in Island Park recently, so it seems appropriate to mention not only bear spray but making noise to warn any bear that you are on the area and gives them a chance to get out of your way. It seems a lot less stressful if you let “brother (or sister) bruin” know you are in the area and it is time to leave, than is having to use that bear spray. Look at our current Yellowstone Park fishing report for some ideas on the subject of making noise to warn bears of your presence.
Flow out of Island Park Dam is considerably less than normal, so getting around to pitch those two nymph rigs or streamers in the evening is easier. Terrestrial patterns are the day time “name of the game” in the river below. Some tricos can make early AM fishing interesting. Are you more interested in fishing the lower river? The Warm River to Ashton part is the place to try. Terrestrial patterns (ant trailing a hopper) work well, and caddis and streamers in the evening will bring action. A good cold snap will improve action on the river below Ashton dam.
As with anywhere else you are considering to visit, expect crowds on Park waters. The best chance for getting away from crowds is to be willing to walk a bit. The second meadow above on Slough Creek would be a good choice. So would the Bechler Meadows streams Bechler River and Boundary Creek. In fact, the creek would be less crowded of the two, especially in the upper meadow. Walking downstream from Nez Perce Ford on Yellowstone River can get you into some large cutthroat trout, and the further you walk, the less the crowding. Lamar River above the cascades and in the meadows will be crowded, but walking upstream to such as Cache Creek will get you away from the bulk of crowds. Very few folks walk into the meadows along the middle of the Lewis River Channel between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes. The Gallatin River along the highway will be popular, but you can avoid crowds by walking up the Big Horn trail a few miles to a meadow reach or up Fan Creek a mile or so to another meadow reach. Spruce moths will supplement the other terrestrial insects on these.
I seem to be stressing meadow sections of these streams, and for good reason: terrestrial insects abound in these, and for now will provide your best chance of fishing success, even tho’ tricos are coming out on some waters. In all of these be “bear aware.” Bring the spray and a noise maker. The “noise maker” can be a loud talking buddy, but a boat horn, AKA “claxon horn,” is an even better choice. You can find one for under ten bucks at any marine supply shop or mega-store sporting goods department. It fits easily in a shirt or vest pocket and weighs next to nothing. Be assured that it will carry a lot further than any loud talking buddy you might have!
Water flow and temperature conditions have been constant for several days now, and fishing success seems to be good anywhere on the river. Choosing time of day is more important than where to fish on the river. Afternoons into evenings lately have been best times to fish for a couple of reasons. First the evening caddis emergence still attracts fish throughout the river. Second terrestrial insects are more active during the PM hours. A strategy we hear that is working well is to trail a black ant pattern about eighteen inches to two feet behind your favorite hopper pattern. Once again, choose patterns for both that you believe are visible to your eyes, and consider that fish may refuse that larger, more visible hopper pattern for the smaller less visible ant pattern. Reasons for declining riffle fishing success include slightly warmer water coming from the reservoir (warmer water means les dissolved oxygen), and that PMD and albert hatches have peaked for the year. The next big mayfly hatches, BWO and mahogany duns are a few weeks away.
Be aware that the upcoming three-day weekend is a “last hurrah” for a lot of enthusiasts. Thus expect a lot of traffic at boat launches and around popular fishing locations on the river. Patience will help, and so will considering the above comments about targeting evenings for being a good choice of when to fish.
Terrestrial insect patterns bring the best action on all park streams this time of year. This is a fact, but trying a dry adult damselfly pattern brings the same response on still waters and slow moving reaches of all streams. Give one a try. You will be pleasantly surprised. Beula Lake continues to offer the fastest action in the park, and presenting a dry damselfly pattern there will cut you off a chunk of it.
Tricos are coming out from the river below Mackay Dam. Fish there key on terrestrial insects later in the day.Only “fly in the ointment” is that flow out of the dam is around 400 cfs making wading a bit tough.
Flav emergence is ongoing from Palisades Reservoir tribs ( Bear, Big Elk and McCoy Creeks) and Palisades Creek. That event is at its best on Big Elk Creek. Kokanee are going up Big Elk Creek. They do not bother cutthroat from taking dry flies, but their presence brings on some illegal action in the form of snagging. Idaho Fish and Game asks that you inform them of any such activities. The river below Warm River Spring is fishing very well for those folks presenting terrestrial patterns and caddis life cycle patterns. Speaking of terrestrial patterns, this is the time of year when they are effective on all of our streams, big or small.
Flow out of Palisades Dam has been around 9500 cfs for several days now. That is about 1000 cfs than the mean flow for this time of year. Water temperature is up to 63 degrees F. and gets a bit higher on going downstream. Expect flow out of the dam to decrease as the reservoir is only half full. Water storage will begin in preparation for next year’s irrigation season. Riffle fishing is off its peak, but presenting terrestrial patterns toward well vegetated banks results in some good fishing. So does waiting until evening when caddisflies become active. Trail an ant pattern behind your hopper pattern, and action will result. Remember that with cooling weather and less daylight the mahogany dun and BWO emergences are not far away.
Water is warm everywhere, but with decreasing hours of sun light cooler waters are coming and will help bring action. Chesterfield Reservoir water is low and warm with extensive weed growth. The same goes for Treasureton Res. where a few big trout and bass have been caught, Springfield and Twenty-Four Mile Reservoirs are also low and mossy enough to interfere with fishing deep. On both places adult damselfly patterns can be effective when presented over channels between weed beds.