Browns are migrating in the entire river, and flows are near base level. That means it is time to consider fishing this river that haswith many convenient access points for walk-in wading. Come to the shop and get information on where and how to fish this river which hosts a great and under-utilized brown trout population. Late afternoons and mornings will be best times for fishing.
Hawkins Reservoir, even with low water, is offering good fishing. Try mini-zonkers and small leech patterns. Mohair leeches are bringing responses in Chesterfield Reservoir. All reservoirs, including those mentioned, Twenty-Four Mile, Daniels, and Treasureton are at very low water levels. We will need good snow higher up this winter to get them back to levels that will sustain good fishing into next year.
Brown trout migration is the major Park fishing attraction this time of year, and there are several choice for enjoying this event. My long-time favorites are the Beaver Meadows of the Madison River and the Lewis River above and below Lewis Lake. On both of these large streamers are the key, with some in bright and some in somber colors. Low light conditions are usually best in both places. Fish in the smaller Lewis River can be stressed more easily, so the best time to fish it is mainly from first light until mid morning when visiting anglers begin to accumulate. The number of brown trout migrating in this system is the largest in the Park. In the larger Beaver Meadows reach of the Madison River, I have had days where good luck lasts the entire day, so long as I fish deep. But do not restrict your visits to these locations. The run of Yellowstone River browns into the Gardner River and that of browns into the Snake River above the South Entrance, are now in progress. So are runs in Duck Creek, Grayling Creek and into the Gibbon River. So you don’t like pitching streamer patterns this tome of year? Try presenting BWO life cycle patterns during afternoon visits to the Firehole River.
Yesterday we fished the Blackfoot River at several locations below the dam. The flow out of the dam has been reduced to an amount that concentrates fish in the deeper runs, pockets, and holes. That means anywhere you can approach the river, look for the deepest parts and you will have your chances. Small streamers, no pattern in particular, seemed to work best for us, until a relatively sparse BWO emergence brought fish up in the water column water away from the deepest parts when mid afternoon water temperatures climbed to 45 deg. F. Then emerger and dun patterns, about #18, were a sure bet to attract trout. The experience I describe for yesterday is one that repeats itself in many streams this time of year. That is streamer and BWO life cycle patterns being effective. Try it anywhere on your favorite waters large or small.
Some of the best fishing on the river is taking place from Vernon Bridge to below Ashton Dam where streamer patterns are attracting migrating brown trout. To enjoy this event be sure to have bright and somber patterns available. Other than this, do not be concerned so much with specific patterns. Be more concerned with presentation and timing. During daytime fish typically hold up in deeper runs and holes. They migrate mostly during low light, so you are most likely to encounter them during early light or sunset and twilight. Stormy conditions can also be a good time to encounter these fish. Looks like those conditions will be upon us during the coming week, so consider a visit to this part of the river then.
Flows have been reduced on the South Fork to 3,300 cfs. They are slowly shutting the water down. Honestly I am surprised it is still this high. I expected it to be around 2,000 cfs by now. Streamer fishing has been the ticket for hooking into a big fish. The Blue Wing Olive hatches have been sparse and almost non existence. I would fish a Parachute Adams and trail a BWO behind it. Fish this setup on the riffles, foam lines and tight to the banks. You will find fish that will eat off the surface. Nymphing is effective as well, but I would make sure you fish only 5 feet deep to help stay out of the moss. Rubberlegs and zebra midges this time of year seem to work the best. BWO redemption nymphs and our tungsten BWO nymph have been effective.
We have been getting a lot of calls about Twin Bridges. You can not launch or take out at Twin Bridges. If you have a pontoon boat this doesn’t really apply to you cause you can walk it down the channel. Drift boats and Jet boats are out of luck. The Lorenzo boat ramp continues to be a major pain. Be careful use your head and wait for your turn. You can no eddy up next to the Handicap ramp but there is only room for 2 boats at the most.
Flows on the South Fork have stayed steady for about a week now at 3,700 cfs. Streamer fishing has been effective even on the sunny days. Nymphing with rubberlegs and Zebra midges and Blue Wing Olives on the surface have also been effective. If you are floating the lower river be cautious of a couple tight spots with trees and fast water. One spot is above Heise bridge and you need to stop the boat and walk it around on the right side of the tree jam. The other two are between Twin Bridges and Lorenzo and require you to pay attention while on the oars.
With trico activity decreasing in the river below Mackay Dam, turn to BWO and midge life cycle patterns. Because of the canopy formed by cottonwood trees along much of the river here, one can expect good BWO activity even on brighter days. Flow out of the dam is a bit above the seasonal normal, but not enough to hinder wading.
The river offers the most convenient streamer fishing in the area. There are numerous access points within minutes of Roberts, Idaho Falls, Shelly, and Blackfoot, and flow is down to seasonal normals. Try low light conditions such as daybreak or twilight for the best chance to catch big browns on the move. Consider trying it during cloudy or stormy days. Have bright and somber patterns ready for your sink tip line.