Now that cooler weather is here mayfly hatches, though still significant, are not the only game in town. If you tend toward the river in Harriman State Park this time of year, a good strategy for presenting larger flies are long, drag free as possible, drifts. Present in this manner around bank side cover, sweepers (which are relatively rare here), rocky shorelines, and timbered shorelines. Terrestrial patterns are best for using this technique, and those, especially hopper patterns, tied with traditional materials seem most effective within these. Don’t expect to catch a huge number of fish using this strategy, but do expect to encounter some of the larger fish here.
Fishing is picking up now. Creek mouths remain the place to go for action using mity mites, peacock leeches, crystal buggers and black coppers. But with cooler weather here and more to come, fishing all around the lake should pick up even more. Folks are concerned about the size of fish being caught, but the better news is that with so many fish in the lake there will be plenty for all anglers to enjoy.
It’s a tough time of year for fish in many of our smallest streams. We visited Jackknife Creek with 2-weight rods a few days ago, and became concerned with the low water we saw there. The creek has a large drainage, but like so many smaller streams the dry, warm summer has limited surface water throughout the drainage. We managed to catch some beautifully colored cutts, but only in deeper runs and holes having water flowing through. We originally intended to fish beaver ponds along the creek. But these hosted huge algae blooms, thus fish were absent because of lowered dissolved oxygen. Concerned that we would be stressing fish, we ended our fishing early. Such an experience can be expected now on many of our smaller streams at the end of this dry summer. Let’s hope for a good snow winter followed by a summer with more precipitation than this one to give trout populations better living conditions next year.
Word has it that Hebgen Lake browns are coming into the Madison River above. Now that it and other rivers in the drainage above are open, look for good fishing in the AM with trico spinners and egg layers followed by fishing with terrestrial patterns. The Gibbon River will likely be better fishing than the Firehole River until further cooling takes place. Tricos in the AM, terrestrial patterns later in the day and an increasing use of streamers is a good general strategy for fishing the Park this time of the season.
If you venture to the Last Chance-Harriman State Park reach the fishing sequence is trico spinners and egg layers in the AM, flying ants later in the morning, terrestrials through the day to caddis in the evening. Not may anglers will be present, so you can pretty much choose your waters. Flow out of Island Park Dam has dropped considerably making for easier wading conditions in Box Canyon. Below Riverside campground go with terrestrial patterns along banks, and your favorite bead head nymph in deeper water. Streamers should be effective below Coffee Pot Rapids and the best choice if you fish above Mack’s Inn.
Many of these are low because of the hot, dry summer we are beginning to finish up, but there are some streams with flows high enough to ensure good fishing. Warm River may be one of the best. A great stretch of the river begins just below Warm River Spring and extends into the canyon. We recommended this part of the river a few weeks ago with its population of brookies, browns and rainbows. Now it is one of the better small streams. Buffalo River is another spring fed stream worth fishing this time of year. It’s ideal for very lightweight equipment with its trico, BWOs, and caddisflies. Palisades Creek will always be a good choice because of inflow from its lakes. Want to experience the best fishing on the creek? It’s a five mile walk up a good trail, but the low gradient reach just above the lower lake is worth it. Teton River in the basin makes for a easy float trip. It’s ideal for pontoon boats, and fishing and recreational traffic there is now down considerably. Trico, BWO, caddis life cycle and terrestrial patterns should be in your fly box for this one. So there’s a few small stream possibilities. Get in touch with us to learn of more.
We have reports of drastically low water on most irrigation reservoirs to out southeast. Whether or not there will be enough water to sustain fish populations through the winter in these remains a good question. Springfield Reservoir seems to be the exception where midge pupa patterns under an indicators are producing some very nice fish. The same technique seems to produce well around inlets to Mackay Reservoir where water levels are also receding.