Any where you fish on the river expect plenty of company. The main reason is the South Fork not being in good fishing condition. That drives more anglers to this river.
It is drake time on the Henry’s Fork from the Henry’s Lake Outlet section on down to the confluence with the South Fork. True PMDs, midges, and caddis are present and some golden stoneflies remain to attract trout. But for the next few weeks any fly-fishers on the river cannot go wrong if they switch to emerger, dun, or spinner patterns where appropriate for each of these drakes. The trick for the best measure of success is knowing how, when, and where to do so. Just a few days ago, Mike Lawson offered an excellent Green, Gray and Brown drake summary for the river. It’s on the June 13th Henry’s Fork Anglers fishing report. Go to his blog at the end of the Harriman Park report to read Mike’s thoughts on the characteristics of each drake species, where and when to expect them, and fly pattern recommendations. The information within is sure to increase your chances for successful fishing during the Henry’s Fork drake season.
The big stoneflies are mostly gone from the river, but various mayfly species are coming on. A few gray drakes are beginning to appear on the lower river, and green drakes are also emerging there. Add to these ongoing PMD and caddis activity, and the fish have plenty of bugs from which to choose. It’s a fun time of year to fish the Henry’s Fork, and the name of the game is to figure out which bugs interest fish at any time. Clearly the Henry’s Fork is the place to now for great fishing, and we can help you decide what patterns to present where and when.
Because of high water on the South Fork and that our smaller rivers and streams are experiencing the same conditions, most area and visiting fly-fishers are spending time on the Henry’s Fork. In general, the Henry’s Fork is not disappointing any visiting fly-fisher. The upper river features some Henry’s Lake escapees through the Flat Ranch, large stoneflies are showing up in the Coffee Pot area, large stoneflies are still in Box Canyon and Cardiac Canyon. They are diminishing on the river below, but enough golden stoneflies around to interest trout. The entire river also hosts good afternoon caddis activity and some PMDs. Any day now green drakes will appear in numbers on the lower river to send trout interest back to and near the surface. With the abundant water situation this season we are looking for a good gray drake hatch to begin on the lower river soon. For the rest of the month look for the Henry’s Fork to offer the best fishing in eastern Idaho.
All this insect activity with trout responding on the river can be a bit overwhelming in deciding what fly patterns to present when and where. We certainly can help you make choices on these issues. Come in and visit, or get in touch with us by email or phone.
Everyone knows the giant and golden stonefly hatches are making for good fishing from just above Chester to Box Canyon. So the river here is crowded with boating and wading anglers. In several days these events will be over, but give the fish time to digest their bugs, and they will be looking for more. Figure on about a week for fish in a given location on the river to respond again to dry patterns. But weather and flow conditions can alter this time span. We have reports that there are trout in the river in the Nature Conservancy’s Flat Ranch Preserve, but not a lot. These are mostly escapees from Henry’s Lake and they will likely take patterns that work in the lake until aquatic and terrestrial insects begin emerging in good numbers..
There is a good number of escapee trout from Henry’s Lake now in the Henry’s Lake Outlet. These fish are mostly cutthroat trout with some hybrids and brook trout. Until stressed by wading anglers, these fish will take streamer and woolly bugger types. Fishing space in the outlet is somewhat limited above the Highway 20 crossing, and will likely be crowded the upcoming holiday weekend. Eventually these fish will disperse into the river going through and offering good fishing in the Flat Ranch property.
The big news for this river is that the giant stonefly hatch is out big time with adults flying from Warm River to Ashton. Look for the hatch to expand to the river below right now and angler presence to expand greatly. Boat traffic is thick and will increase on the lower river above Chester during the upcoming holiday weekend. Cooler weather expected later this week means that presenting big nymph patterns may be the best way to go for now in such as Box Canyon and upper Cardiac Canyon, but because the progress of this hatch is so unpredictable, be sure to have dry stonefly patterns along.
Whether it is Box Canyon, Cardiac Canyon, or the lower river, you can bet that large stonefly nymphs are on the move towards shallow water. That means the whole array of large nymph patterns available from rubber legs to fancier renditions will be effective in waters such as these. Flow out of Island Park Dam is just under 1000 cfs and appears likely to remain at that level for the time being, so look for a stable river at least down to the Warm River-Robinson Creek and Fall River confluences for now. In addition to stonefly nymphs being effective, March brown and caddis life cycle patterns bring responses on the lower river, and bead head nymphs of choice bring action there and in Box Canyon waters. During our recent cold spell flow into the river coming from Fall River has decreased. However look for Fall River to put a lot more water into the river during the upcoming predicted warm weather.
The lower Warm River to Ashton reach featured a blanket caddis hatch last weekend. So fish seemed filled with these. From Warm River downstream to Chester the river is a bit high but clarity is about normal. The same applies from Ashton Dam to Chester. Streamers and big stonefly nymphs are the best patterns to try both places for larger fish. Midges abound, but BWOs seem spotty (good numbers some places, not so good others). Midges are dominant at Last Chance were your choice of bead head nymphs in sizes around 12-14 work best.
Although some midges and some BWOs are on the surface, presenting nymph patterns in the lower river above Chester seems the most productive approach lately. Streamers also bring responses from trout, especially under low light conditions. Look for Fall River, with flow at Yellowstone canal diversion more than double normal, to increase flows significantly and add discolor to the river below Chester.
Run-off from farmlands is beginning to come into Fall River as well as from higher elevations. This means discolor in Fall River impacting the Henry’s Fork at Chester Dam and below. From there downstream presenting streamers and nymphs is the best way to attract fish. On the river above, the same strategy works (a great way to attract fish in Box Canyon), but include midge life cycle patterns. Give BWOs and march browns a bit more time before their activity become significant.
Winter still reigns on much of the lower river, and the best way to visit is walk-in and wade as opposed to boating. Nymphing with rubber legs and bead head nymph patterns will get you into action. When we have wind-free days fish will be on the surface taking midges, and a #18 griffiths gnat will do a good job of imitating the clusters trout look for.