South Fork & Henry's Fork Fishing Reports

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Fishing Reports

Jimmy's All Seasons Angler / Fishing Reports (Page 4)

Henry’s Fork 9-16-17

As is happening on the South Fork, BWOs and mahogany duns are showing up and down the river whether in the Last Chance-Harriman section or the lower river.  The best fishing on the lower river at present seems to be in the Warm River to Ashton section where streamer fishing is bringing responses from large brown trout as a result of the unsettled weather conditions.  Rely on terrestrial insect patterns being effective during sunny days anywhere on the river.  Look for streamer fishing to be increasingly effective almost everywhere on the river as we advance into the fall season.

Flow out of Henry’s Lake has been essentially cut in half as storage begins. Thus fish in the Flat Ranch reach move downstream into the Henry’s Fork proper. This will make streamer fishing very effective in “The Tubs” area, especially early and late in the day.  Some of the largest Henry’s Fork whitefish populate this part of the river. If you are looking to supply fish for the smoker, midge and BWO life cycle patterns really interest these salmonids residing here in good numbers.

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South Fork 9-16-17

Current weather is “just what the doctor ordered” for increasing fishing success on the South Fork.  Back this up with decreasing flows out of Palisades Dam (currently just under 7700 cfs and sure to drop further as the water storage season begins), and fishing in the near future here looks great. BWOs in good numbers are coming out in the riffles with mahogany duns beginning to show in places. Be sure to have life cycle patterns for each in that fly box.  When periods of good sunshine happen, go back to presenting your favorite hopper pattern back to the vegetated banks and be sure to trail that pattern with a small bead head nymph. We could not ask for better conditions for presenting streamers because of increased low light conditions brought on by unsettled weather looking to last into next week.  So whether you fish from a boat or wade, the South Fork could now be offering some of the best fishing this season.

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South Fork 9-12-17

A taste of fall weather will be in our area for the rest of the week, and with respect to fishing the South Fork it could signal some changes.  One change is the beginning of the fall mayfly emergence cycle meaning the appearance of BWOs and mahogany duns in numbers big enough to interest resident trout. At the same time PMDs and pink alberts will begin a decline in numbers.  But until a killing frost wipes out land based bugs, any fly pattern looking like a terrestrial insect will be effective in interesting trout.  The other change that will gradually take place is the increased effectiveness in time of streamers in luring larger trout. So consider going to the tying vise to crank out patterns appropriate for fishing during the upcoming change in season.

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Henry’s Fork 9-9-17

As with the South Fork, significant BWO and mahogany dun hatches on the lower river will happen later in this month.  During daytime visits here presenting terrestrial insect patterns is the best way to attract fish.  While fishing from a boat, trail that hopper pattern with a favorite bead head nymph. And as with evening visits to the South Fork, observe shallow waters for bait fish concentrations.  Such a presence is a clue that streamer patterns will attract larger fish moving in around sunset to forage on these. The Last Chance-Harriman section of the river features AM trico and speckled dun spinner falls, while daytime success is best met through presenting terrestrial insect patterns.   While fishing  during late evenings, consider drifting a hair mouse pattern along vegetated banks. You may not interest many fish, but the one(s) you do will surely be very large. On doing so, you can get away with using a heavier tippet making it a bit easier to play that big fish entering the now copious weed beds present in the river.  It is the time of year when good fishing in the Henry’s Lake Outlet section begins to fade.  Even though flow out of Henry’s Lake remains a bit above 100 cfs, warm water temperatures are present. This means larger fish will begin migrating downstream to cooler water in the Henry’s Fork just below Big Springs.  Many fly-fishers overlook the river between the Big Springs-Henry’s Lake Outlet confluence and below because of the numbers of recreational boaters. An evening visit to this stretch of water avoids conflicts with these folks and increases your chances that a well-placed streamer will bring up a very large resident trout.

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Small Streams 9-9-17

It is the time of year when many of our small tributary streams are at or approaching base level flows.  This reduces overhead cover, so combined with warm late summer and early autumn daytime temperatures, many resident trout begin moving downstream to larger waters which provide better overhead cover and cooler temperatures.  This does not impact our “larger” small streams, such as Big Lost, Blackfoot, Fall, Teton and Warm Rivers as well as Birch, Bitch, Little Lost, Medicine Lodge and the larger South Fork-Palisades Reservoir tributaries. Such as Burns, Robinson, Jackknife, Lanes, Rock, and Tincup Creeks are among those seeing this migration. Thus, if you enjoy streams such as these, the best of what their smaller reaches offer with respect to fishing action will diminish as we advance into autumn.

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South Fork 9-9-17

Stable flow out of Palisades Dam (around 9000 cfs) helps keep fishing success stay relatively constant. It’s a bit early in the month for BWOs and mahoganies to be important, so continue presenting bead head nymphs of choice in riffles until rise forms from PMDs and alberts appear in good numbers meaning emerger and dun patterns will become effective. Pitch hopper-dropper combos from boats back toward vegetated banks.  While wading around shallows later in the day, look for baitfish concentrating there. This is a tip-off that larger trout will forage on these as sunlight leaves the river.  Thus if you are on the river during evenings, streamer patterns become effective when presented near shallows as the sun sets. Patterns in somber colors (olives, browns, and ultra-violet end of the spectrum shades) are best this time of year.

The Jackson Hole One Fly Contest is ongoing along the river. No more than eight boats per section will be participating. So crowding is not an issue. This great event deserves support from all fly-fishers. Go to the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest web site to see details on organization, schedule, and purpose.

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South Fork 9-5-17

Flow out of Palisades Dam has been essentially constant (around 9300 cfs) for several days and is a bit higher than were it should be historically.   Clear, and of normal temperature profile (includes warming on going downstream), the river is producing good riffle fishing, but not up to the activity of the past few years.  Concentrating efforts on a particular riffle seems the best way to find action rather than slowly floating through. So anchor the boat and give the rifle a good working over with PMD and pink albert life cycle patterns, or consider leaving the boat behind and wade to available riffles. Casting terrestrial patterns with a bead head nymph dropper back to vegetated banks has been producing. No mahoganies yet, and very few BWOs. Allow a couple of weeks for these to become important.  Another factor in these mayflies emerging in numbers worthy of interest from fish is a cooler atmosphere and some unstable weather.  You can minimize the impacts of these variables by fishing in evenings when good caddis activity brings interest from resident trout and presenting streamer patterns is more effective because of increased cover.

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Henry’s Lake 9-2-17

Two days ago we passed around the south end of Henry’s Lake on our way to Red Rock Pass. The Cliffs, County Park, Hope and Duck Creeks and much of west shoreline were in view. Not a boat in sight!  Pretty much tells the tale of current fishing success on the lake.

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Southwest Montana 9-2-17

It appears that grayling in Red Rock Creek are heading downstream to Red Rock Lake.  Few, if any, remain in the creek above the Elk Lake Road bridge. Flow in the creek is a bit higher that normal, but high daytime air temps have have warmed the creek to the point that these fish are moving out.  Some juvenile cutthroat trout are in the creek throughout. Brook trout concentrate in upstream portions.

The Elk Lake Road bridge over Red Rock Creek is being replaced and a section of road north of the bridge is being improved. Construction is on going with gravel being supplied from a pit just east of the Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge. Flaggers direct traffic over the old bridge and through the section of road being improved. These actions appear to not impact the creek.

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Still Waters 8-28-17

Seems like “slow” best describes overall action on regional still waters this summer, and that makes the reason for so few reports from us. Few visits we have heard of to Chesterfield, Hawkins, Treasureton and Twenty-Four Mile have been very productive (try leech patterns at depth). Likewise, best action at Sand Creek Ponds seems to be during early AM hours (try soft hackle patterns just below the surface). That’s not surprising when reports of mid day water temperatures being as high as in the low 70s degrees F. are frequent here.  Springfield Reservoir has been slow except for those who know where springs enter or are submerged.  Cooler water here acts as a comfort haven, especially for larger fish so dependent on dissolved oxygen content. Daniels Reservoir produces depending on who offers a report. Seems like presenting midge pupa patterns under an indicator works after the taking depth is found.

Consider trying still waters at higher elevations where cooler air predominates.  Aldous Lake is a good candidate if you do not mind walking a mile and a quarter mostly uphill while carrying a flotation device with waders and fins.  Cutts in this small lake responding to speckled dun and damsel fly activity or taking small leech patterns could make it worth the effort. Lower Palisades Lake is a four mile walk  from the trail head with best fishing (try leech patterns) where the inlet enters at the northeast corner. Don’t want to walk that far, you say? Horseshoe Lake is at about 6000 feet elevation and can be reached off the Cave Falls Road by a gravel road good enough with care for passage by a sedan.  The reward is the only roadside grayling population in this part of Idaho. As soon as speckled duns begin emerging, these fish, along with resident rainbows, become active and respond not only to soft hackle patterns just below the surface, but to any dry pattern resembling one of these insects. True, a bragging fish here is about a foot long, but their beauty makes up for size. So use that light weight tackle to best enjoy them.

In any case, cooler weather will arrive as September advances, and the resulting effects on most still waters will bring back the action we have been waiting for.

 

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