With the crowds on our icon rivers, it is a good time to consider visiting some smaller streams. These are usually less crowded, some to the point that you may not encounter another angler during a visit. Be assured that some of these also host trout that rival in size those in the Henry’s Fork, Madison River, and the South Fork. A few are suitable for float fishing. The river in Teton Basin is barely suitable for drift boating, but better for pontoon boats. Rafts are better suited for fishing the canyon but only in the company of a person knowing the river. Lower Fall River is currently dewatered because of irrigation demands, so is best fished late or early in the day by wading. The lower Blackfoot River from the dam down to Morgan Bridge can be floated, but is subject to varying flows. If you prefer walk-in wade fishing, candidates for a visit are numerous. We keep up as much as possible on conditions on the small streams because so many offer quality fishing with a chance for some solitude as well as great scenery. Want more information on small streams? Visit the shop, or get in touch because we can help!
Because of significant rainfall in the area, Salt River tribs (Jackknife, Tincup, South Fork Tincup, Stump, Crow Creeks) coming out of Idaho and Palisades Reservoir tribs (Bear, Big Elk, McCoy Creeks) are in very good fishing shape. Hoppers are making an appearance on these. Traditional attractor, terrestrial insect, and caddis life cycle patterns will always produce on these streams, some of which host cutthroat trout just as large as in the main stem river.
On so many of these you can escape crowds as well as fireworks noise. Here’s a sampler of info on some of the better small streams.
Fall River flow is extremely low and warm because of irrigation demands. Fish it early ( favorite spinner patterns) or fish it late (caddis life cyle patterns). Could be good swimming during daytime hours!
Teton River in the basin is fishing quite well, in good shape, and the scenery fantastic. There are several public access locations along the river and in Idaho you are legal while moving around within the high water mark. During mid-day hours expect interruptions from recreational boaters. Fish the early AM spinner fall with your favorite rusty spinner pattern. Or in the evening try caddis, PMD life cycle patterns, sallys, and do not overlook presenting your favorite dry golden stonefly pattern.
The Blackfoot River above the reservoir opened on July 1st. The premier location here is the river going through the Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area, the former Stocking Ranch. Flow here is near normal. Look for PMDs, a few evening brown drakes, ants and beetles.With all the visits going on at the South Fork and the Henry’s Fork, this gorgeous small river is mostly overlooked.
McCoy Creek has dropped and biggest fish are back in the reservoir. Nevertheless, fishing for moderately sized cutthroat is good and particularly fun with dry patterns. In its middle stretch where meadows are present, this stream is a great place to take an entry level person or youngster.
Warm River below Warm River Spring will always be a good candidate for a visit . Best way to escape crowds on the lower river is to walk up the railroad grade above the campground, then descend to the river. Another way is to drive to Warm River Spring, park in any pull out on approaching the spring, then walk downstream. Try PMD and caddisfly life cycle patterns. You may see a few golden stoneflies. Your favorite ant and beetle patterns will also be effective.
We have a lot more thoughts on fishing these and other small waters. Get in touch or visit the shop, and we can provide more details.
Looks like warm weather is here in a serious manner, and it will effect small streams and still waters the most. Many of them are at their best before waters drop to near base level and warm.
Many of our small streams host beaver ponds. Even the best of these ponds are not much more than several feet deep, and with little movement of water through them, their water tends to warm quickly. So especially for these (Jackknife Creek, McCoy Creek,Cranes Creek, Little Warm River), now is the best time for a visit. Leech patterns in black or olive are always a good choice hese. If you prefer top water fishing, dry damsel adult, and speckled dun patterns work well. So does a hair mouse or frog pattern if very large trout inhabit the pond. Later on, add terrestrial patterns to the mix of patterns to consider.
With respect to small streams in general, those with a large component of spring inflow ( upper Birch Creek, Big Elk Creek, upper Bitch Creek) or lakes with underground outlets (Palisades Creek) have a better chance of maintaining water levels and nice water temps through the summer. But for many other small streams not so fortunate, now is the time to enjoy them, and we can help you make choice.
Teton River drainage is beginning to round into fishing shape. In the river’s canyon reach and below look for golden stoneflies and caddislies to bring some action. Consider that the canyon reach is difficult and dangerous water best fished accompanied by a guide or a person knowing the river “like the back of their hand.”
Looking for places to take that enthusiastic youngster? Put the Birch Creek Family Area above Lone Pine, McCoy Creek, and Little Warm River around Pole Bridge Campground at the top of your list. Sawmill Creek in the Little Lost River drainage is another great choice except for a much longer drive than the others. All these offer very good dry fly-fishing right now with any small pattern working and each is not only easily approached, but relatively safe.
Choice is really great, once again. Exceptions are streams draining west slope of the Tetonsand lower Blackfoot River with its ups and downs flows out of the dam. If you have an entry level person, small streams are the place to go rather than the big waters which can be intimidating. Birch Creek’s Family Fishing Area is at the top of the candidate list. Some other good candidates are Sawmill Creek in the upper Little Lost River Valley, Little Warm River in the Pole Bridge Campground area, McCoy Creek, upper Medicine Lodge Creek, Beaver Creek in the campground area and meadows above Spencer. Even Hayden Ponds between Leadore and Salmon are great candidates. Now that school is out, there is plenty of time to get that inquiring youngster onto the water. There are many other candidates for doing so. Come in and talk to us about where, what to use, and when to go.
Almost every stream not draining high country is in great fishing shape. Teton River drainage is an exception right now with some west slope run-off coming down. Also variable flows in the lower Blackfoot River make fishing success just as variable. Almost every other stream is worth a visit, and beginning now for the next several weeks may be the best time of the season for trying these if rainfall becomes less than normal and air temperatures higher than normal. Get in touch with us to get information on which of these streams are worth visiting at any time.
Some of these are really shaping up for good fishing. Warm River has been good for weeks with cloudy day BWO, PMD, yellow sally, and caddis life cycle patterns. Add Robinson Creek to small streams worth trying. Here small traditional attractors (renegades, various wulffs, irresistables) and nymphs work well. The big stoneflies have gone through, but caddis, sallys and PMDs also make for good fishing. McCoy, Jackknife, and Tincup Creeks are other good bets with traditional attractor and nymph patterns. Some of our great small streams remain closed to protect spawning cutthroat. Consult current regulations to identify these waters.
Are you looking for a small stream that is producing active fish? Try Warm River. Now that Memorial Day weekend has passed, crowds will decrease. Consider walking up the railroad grade from the Three Rivers area, or walk up from the campground. Fish are taking PMD and caddisfly life cycle patterns. Traditional dry fly patterns in smaller sizes will also produce in the faster water. Soft hackled patterns always work on this stream.Try them just below Warm River Spring as well as on the lower river.
Flow out of Blackfoot River Reservoir was increased Wednesday from under 100 cfs to around 230 cfs as irrigation demands kick in. That’s a big change for this small river, so look for fishing success here to fall off until things stabilize, even though a big caddisfly hatch is going on.