Eventually the river will be at this level!
For the current really high water situation (21900 cfs out of Palisades Dam today!), don’t expect great fishing. But side channels, gravel bars and drop offs, where you an find them in a safe and cautious manner, nymph patterns we suggest include red or black zebra midge, copper john, both in size 12-16, rubberlegs in sizes 4-10, and San Juan worms and squirmy worms in sizes 10-12. For effective streamer patterns try sex dungeons, sparkle minnows and peanut envys in as large a size as you can find.
We will suggest dry fly patterns when the river drops to a level when such patterns will be effective.
The overall springtime hatch is ongoing and moving up the river. With good weather predicted for several days ahead, it is time to put together fly box contents for this time of year. The big stoneflies are pretty much out of the lower river except for the goldens. So for those adult goldens here and the upper river, patterns we suggest are Rollin golden and CFO golden olive in size 8-10. For the big stoneflies now in the Box and Coffeepot, try CFO Big Hair and improved or traditional sofa pillow in sizes 4-6. For the afternoon caddis hatch anywhere on the river, the Henry’s Fork caddis, X-caddis, and Lawson’s EZ caddis, all in size 14-18 are good bets. For isoperla stoneflies patterns anywhere on the river try CFO-X and yellow stimulator, both in size 12-16.
Any day now the drakes, followed by flavs, will begin working their way emerging up the river. For green drakes, try the D&D cripple, Harrop’s spinner, and Williams flex wing, all in size 10. For the gray drakes, try McLellan’s gray in size 10. For flavs consider the biot spinner, CDC emerger and cripple, all in size 14. Be sure to include the partridge and olive soft hackle which is as good an emerger pattern for both mayflies and caddisflies as any created. Nymph patterns, you ask? Bead head prince and pheasant tail in size 12-16 and rubber legs in size 6-10.
With flow out of Palisades Dam over 20000 cfs the river below is dangerous. For now, expressing caution when approaching the river is important. Palisades Reservoir is about 85% full, and water managers are trying to keep up with the high inflow and yet minimize flooding threats from the river below. Flow into Jackson Lake has dropped significantly. Nevertheless there is potential for the river below Palisades Dam to remain very high through much of this month.
Big stoneflies are flying in Box Canyon and fish and anglers are responding whether wading or boating. In a few days these big bugs will be doing the same around Coffeepot where fishing conditions will be less crowded. Hatch on the lower river is diminishing, but golden stone are coming on. Give currently filled up or filling up fish several days, and they will be looking for those big bugs again. For now, afternoon caddis activity is taking over for best dry fly fishing.
The lake was slow fishing during opening weekend, but some large fish were caught. Leech patterns worked best. Because ice-out happened several days ago the lake has apparently warmed enough for many fish to move to deeper water.
All roads accessing Palisades Reservoir tributaries are open with the exception of the Jensen Creek Road connecting Bear and McCoy Creeks. Some grading is ongoing on the upstream end of the McCoy Creek Road. All Palisades Reservoir tributaries are currently running high and discolored.
All streams in the park, including the Firehole River, are high. The Ashton-Flagg Road is open to the Jackass Loop just beyond the South Boone Creek crossing. This prevents access to Fall River in the Park where water is high with run-off and likely not offering good fishing. It is likely that this road will not open for about another month for those folks wanting access to Beula Lake and upper Fall River.
Here is some road information for getting into two popular family fishing still waters. As of today, snow blocks the Horseshoe Lake Road just as the lake is approached. The Fish Creek Road currently remains snow covered preventing access to Fish Creek Pond ( Teardrop Lake). Further information on these and other back country roads in Caribou-Targhee National Forest can be obtained through such as the Ashton District (208-652-7442) and Palisades District (208-523-1412) offices.
Flow out of Island Park Dam was nearly doubled Wednesday. That action along with a big rainstorm the same evening has slowed fishing temporarily in the Box Canyon-Last Chance section of the river. The same could be the case for the river in the Riverside area where the big bugs will likely show very soon. This rise in flow is unlikely to impact fishing in the lower river where giant and golden stone fly adult patterns rule the roost with respect to being effective all the way from the slide below lower Mesa Falls to Chester. Here’s an update: as of Memorial Day the big stoneflies are beginning to fly in lower Box Canyon.