It’s not all bad news for the South Fork, because nymph fishing seems to be improving. Currently Palisades Reservoir is at 60% of capacity. Water coming out is cold, but clearing, and flow out of Palisades Dam has been nearly constant at 16000 cfs for about two weeks. So stable conditions are present. Big rubber legs and stonefly nymph patterns work as do small bead head nymphs in riffles.
From Cardiac Canyon downstream to Chester backwaters and a bit later in Box Canyon big stonefly nymphs are moving toward banks or already there. Soon there will be enough of them flying over the river to drop eggs, and drifting that trout will respond with rises to the surface to take them. We have a number of patterns that are excellent imitations for these insects as well as the tackle to present them. Patterns include such as Chernobyl, CFO, and stimulator variations to old stand-by sofa pillows and Bird’s Stones. Because of conditions on the South Fork, expect crowds wherever you try your luck on the river during this event.
Yellowstone National Park fishing licenses and regulations arrived in the shop today. If you intend to fish in the park during the Memorial Day weekend opening, the Firehole River will likely offer the best fishing, but expect company. Bring BWO, soft hackle (partridge and olive), and caddis life cycle patterns and small nymph patterns with and without bead heads. Some Hebgen Lake run-up rainbows remain in the Madison River after spawning. These fish will take streamer patterns swung deep, and some of the best places to encounter them will be from the Barns Holes downstream to Baker’s Hole.
Hawkins Reservoir is providing some good fishing through presenting midge pupa patterns under an indicator and black or olive leech patterns. To get there take I-15 south to the Virginia Exit, go west a few miles to the reservoir. Another good piece of news is that the Dairy Creek Road from Hawkins Reservoir to Daniels Reservoir is now open. We do not have fishing success info on Daniels to pass on, but with this short cut now open, such should come our way.
Either high run-off or bad road conditions, and in some cases both, prevent us from enjoying fishing outings to many of our small streams. There is one exception, and that is Warm River in the Three Rivers area. Warm River above the Robinson Creek confluence is not a major run-off stream through draining relatively flat lands in the eastern portion of Island Park where roads may still be in poor condition. Much of the lower river can be accessed near Warm River Campground and above by following the abandoned rail road line. Afternoon caddis activity, the same with BWOs, and from remaining March browns will interest trout. Thus life cycle patterns of these insects should be in fly boxes of anyone visiting to fish. The same goes for a variety of nymph patterns in small sizes, with and without beads. A four-weight system is ideal for use here, and certainly the fish (brook, brown, rainbow and whitefish) here run smaller than in the nearby Henry’s Fork. Nevertheless, solitude and tranquility will make for a pleasant outing.
Flow out of Palisades dam has been constant at just under 16000 cfs for about a week. That’s a few thousand cfs higher than average and may not remain at that level, particularly if our weather warms. Palisades Reservoir is filling and is near 60% full. Most effective fishing currently is through boating to present rubber leg patterns deep and the same for streamers under low light conditions.
To minimize crowding here avoid fishing on weekends, particularly Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons. Because the South Fork is still high for the season and not yet fishing up to par, many enthusiasts are going to the Henry’s Fork to not only wade-fish but to fish from boats. This is the case mainly from Warm River to Chester where flow is about normal for this time of year. Monday or Tuesday are likely the best days for experiencing reduced crowding along this part of the river. No reports yet of significant big stonefly activity, but streamer patterns produce under low light conditions and large rubber leg and stonefly nymph patterns will produce when drifted deep through runs. For sure, giant stonefly nymphs are beginning to move meaning some are breaking free and drifting. For good top water fishing look for trout responding to PM caddis activity, to BWO activity, and diminishing march brown activity.
Biggest concern here is Fall River inflow and impact on fishing the river below Chester Dam. Currently Fall River flow below Yellowstone diversion is about 50% higher than normal and sure to increase. With warming weather much more snow on YNP’s Madison and Pitchstone Plateaus will melt and come down through Fall River Basin streams and into the river. This means an abundance of cold, discolored water coming into the Henry’s Fork just above Chester Dam, and this activity could continue through June. Let’s see how this shakes out after a winter of abundant snowfall.
Looks like the South Fork is on its way to reasonable fly-fishing conditions, but has a way to go. On May 1st flow from Palisades Dam was dropped to 13900 cfs (now 15400 cfs at Heise, 11200 cfs at Lorenzo) and remains there this day. The reservoir is currently about 47% of capacity and slowly filling. Warming weather and abundant remaining snow could speed up the filling rate. So for now stock up on well-weighted streamer, San Juan worm, and rubber leg patterns because better fly-fishing days on the river are soon to come.