Weather and road conditions will now limit access to many back country streams. However many more easily accessed streams will be open during the catch and release season in the Upper Snake Region. Consult current IDF&G regulations to learn which streams are open during this season.
Thanks to cooling weather and water at base level the next few weeks could be the “last hurrah” for the best of the fishing season on many area small streams. Currently Birch Creek, Warm River, Buffalo River and Blackfoot River below the reservoir are fishing well. All have good BWO hatches, but they can be only at specific locations on the Blackfoot River, especially during these bright days. Look for shaded areas there such as at the base of cliffs out of the sun. On the Blackfoot River your chances for action are better through using streamers. Make them small (size 8-10), and look for deep runs and holes for presenting them.
We fished Big Elk Creek during yesterday’s beautiful weather. The flav hatch is winding down significantly. They made an appearance around 3 PM, and after about 45 minutes ceased. Likewise, interest from cutts on what was going by on the surface pretty much shut down when flavs ceased. Cutts we caught looked prosperous enough. Compare that duration in time to the hatch in early and mid August which goes on for hours. A small, light colored mayfly emerged later with a few rises responding. We did not capture one but the slate cream dun could be a possibility.
Some small streams will remain good fishing for several weeks to come. These include the Palisades Reservoir tributaries, Blackfoot, Buffalo, Fall, Warm, Teton, and Warm Rivers; Birch, Bitch, Medicine Lodge, and Robinson Creeks. Another one to consider is Grey’s River. A Wyoming non-resident day fishing license is an affordable $15, and the river is just southeast of Alpine, Wyoming. The countryside is particularly beautiful around this classic freestone stream and Snake River fine spotted cutthroat are the only trout resident above the first few miles. The Grey’s is a PM fishery needing to warm for both insects and fish to become active. Some caddisflies and a few flavs remain to attract trout, but terrestrial patterns are the best way to success.
In this year of diminished water supply some small streams are doing better than others. Palisades Creek and Palisades Reservoir tribs Big Elk Creek and McCoy Creek are among these. The same is for Buffalo River, Warm River and Birch Creek all of which are generously supplied with spring inflow. Looking for a place to take a youngster or entry level person? The Birch Creek Family Area or McCoy Creek in meadows along the road are your best bets. Both have open areas for easy access and aggressive fish although none of large sizes. Both are great dry fly streams this time of year with terrestrial patterns, caddis life cycle, and traditional attractors in small to medium sizes (#8-16) being your best bets for action. Use a light weight rod, and you are in for a good time, and that youngster or entry level person will have plenty of chances to learn how to hook and play fish.
This time of the summer South Fork and Palisades Reservoir tributaries can offer excellent fishing if you do not mind walking a bit on most. Bear Creek , Big Elk Creek and Palisades Creek have great trails that go for miles up each. Palisades and Big Elk Creeks are non-motorized making for a better measure of serenity. McCoy, Fall, and Rainy Creeks are paralleled by a good gravel roads most of their lengths, and in a few hundred yards of walking, you can cover most of these from the road. Yellowstone cutts are the major residents of each. McCoy Creek hosts a few browns, Fall Creek offers some brookies in upper reaches, and both Palisades and Rainy Creek have a few cutbows. Strategy for all is about the same. When flavs emerge in late afternoon (Bear, Big Elk and Palisades), dry fly fishing is terrific. Hopper, caddis life cycle, and traditional attractors patterns work on all of these from mid day on. Nymphing brings action in the morning. Consdier trying one of these from now into September. If one of these strikes up your interest, come visit us for more information.
Flav emergence on Big Elk Creek is in beginning stages and the same should be happening on Palisades Creek. If you fish before early afternoon bead head nymphs work, but presenting grasshopper and ant patterns is more fun. Concentrate on presenting these just in front of undercuts and grassy overhangs. Water temp has to get to mid 50s before flavs begin emerging. This means mid afternoon at least. Best action for fish chasing flavs will begin around 4PM and last for two or three hours. Day with skies clouding up will be best for action. Any pattern resembling an emerger or dun (size 12) will interest the cutts which range up to a size rivaling those in the South Fork below. The country here is tinder dry, so be careful with any flammable items.
Jim and Jimmy fished the upper Blackfoot River a few days ago and had a good experience on the upper end of the Wildlife Management Area. If you have never fished this part of the Blackfoot River, consider a visit. From Interstate-15 take the Sunnyside exit and go east on Sunnyside past Ammon and up into the foothills. Sunnyside eventually connects with the Bone Road. At this intersection take a right on the Bone Road and head south past Bone. Just south of Bone the road splits. Take the left hand branch, the Long Valley Road, and follow around the east side of Grey’s Lake to Idaho Highway 34. Take a left on the highway to Wayan then a right on the Williamson Loop Road. Go about a mile and take a left on the Lanes Creek Road. Follow this road south to its intersection with the Diamond Creek Road. Here you can take a left onto this road to a parking area on the river. Or you can take a right at the intersection where the road becomes the Blackfoot River Road. Follow it to a parking area on the left, or continue on the road to the lower end of the Wildlife Management Area, take a left to park near the river. All three of the parking areas give convenient access to the river. Cutthroat trout are here in good numbers with a very occasional brook trout arriving from the Diamond Creek beaver ponds. Hoppers are out in good numbers, so what to use is obvious, but also bring a few PMD life cycle and traditional attractor patterns. The country is beautiful so do not leave that camera behind. Best of all, you just may be the only one fishing this classic meadow stream.
Mid summer is here, and changes happen on many small waters. On streams where flows drop to the point of little overhead cover and higher in-stream temperature, fish move usually downstream to seek more cover and cooler flows in a main stem water. A good example is that fabulous little brook trout stream, Rock Creek off the Cave Falls Road. Here as waters drop and warm with mid summer, many resident brookies move down into Robinson Creek. The same also happens on lower Willow Creek. This part of the creek provides good early season fishing when flows between 50 and 100 cfs offer better living conditions than much lower summertime flows and warmer in-stream temperatures. So many fish move down into Ririe Reservoir. Streams with a more constant flow such as from springs (Birch Creek, Big Elk Creek, Henry’s Fork above Island Park Reservoir) or with upstream lakes that add sub-surface water(Palisades Creek, Fall River in Yellowstone Park) will not be impacted as much this time of year.
This time of year fishing small streams can be a “mixed bag.” With warm, bright days open reaches can be extremely difficult because of the lack of overhead cover making fish either extremely wary or avoiding such locations. Thus concentrate your efforts where there is overhanging brush, undercuts, sweepers, and just below in-stream structure. Several small streams are good fishing now. This really applies to the South Fork and Palisades Reservoir tributaries; Palisades, Rainy, Big Elk, McCoy, and Bear Creeks. Take your favorite ant, beetle, hopper, caddis and PMD patterns. Concentrate on the slower water having overhead cover, and each of these streams will have plenty of such. Look for flavs to begin emerging at a significant rate soon on most of these streams making for fabulous afternoon fishing. Cutts in some of these streams rival those in the South Fork for size, and you will encounter a lot fewer anglers on these waters. Another water type to concentrate on is beaver ponds, particularly those with deeper areas and cover in the form of willows and well vegetated banks. Upper reaches of McCoy Creek, the Willow Creek, the Little Lost River drainages, and Idaho’s Salt River tributaries have numerous beaver ponds. For sure, leech patterns are the most effective to use, but submerged vegetation limits their use this time of year, so go with dry damselfly and terrestrial patterns. We have more information that we can place here on the great variety of small waters in the region, so it might be best to come in and discuss with us ones to visit.