Flavs are emerging from all major Palisades Reservoir-South Fork tribs. This event is an afternoon happening because waters must warm to around the mid fifties in degrees F. for the bulk of the insects to emerge. Big Elk Creek will soon be crowded because kokanee (redfish!) are already in its lower portions. It’s a fun time of year on all small streams because hoppers and other terrestrial insects are numerous on banks, and trout know they are present. So pay particular attention to presenting around and underneath overhanging vegetation and when breezes move such around!
If you enjoy fishing small streams being in this area right now is like being a kid in a candy shop. July and August have seen a surplus of rainfall in much of the area which helps these streams maintain good flows with water temperatures more suited for active fish. The “where to go” choice is almost endless, and we can help point out some of these depending on your preferences. So for now let’s just point out the few “where not to go” locations.
Water flow out of Blackfoot River Reservoir is variable enough to slow fishing in the river below.
Robinson Creek is down to base level and therefore warmer making fish migrate downstream to deep holes such as near Teton View Estates on downstream.
Pine Creek is slow fishing for much the same reason as for Robinson Creek.
Shallower beaver ponds on such as Jackknife and Tincup Creeks have warmed enough that during afternoon hours fish there will move to riffles above in order to find more dissolved oxygen.
Teton River in the basin is fishing very well with fish taking terrestrial and PMD life cycle patterns. Fish early and late in the day to avoid recreationists.
Fall River is dewatered because of irrigation demands. That means warm daytime water temps. Fish the evening caddisfly emergence, or AM spinner fall.
Bitch Creek is fishing well. Try it off the Jackpine Road where a private access is available. Traditional attractor, yellow sally, and caddis life cycle patterns will get you into action.
Larger trout in Robinson Creek have moved downstream to deeper holes where water temps are more to their liking. There may be some access to these holes through the Teton View subdivision.
Warm River continues to offer good fishing. If you plan to fish the lower river, walk up the old railroad grade to get away from the crowds fishing around the campground. You may find less company by going to Warm River Spring, parking in a pull-out, then walking downstream as far as time permits. Try terrestrial, traditional attractor, caddis and PMD life cycle patterns.
Not many flavs are showing up to date on Bear, Big Elk and Palisades Creeks. But mutant stone, caddis life cycle, traditional attractor, and terrestrial insect patterns are working just fine on each of these.
Caddisflies stay active on most of our small streams this time of the season. Terrestrial insects also become important food forms for trout. As discussed in our Yellowstone Park report, having patterns for these along is now important. The other consideration to realize is that many of our smaller streams are warming up as waters drop to base levels. Streams that have a large water component from springs (Birch, Big Elk, Bitch, Diamond, Little Lost, Teton River) or water from lakes with subterranean outlets(Palisades) tend to stay cooler longer than those that do not have as much of such (Robinson, Bear, Pine, Upper Blackfoot) or are subject to draw-down ( lower Fall River). So concentrate your efforts on those with cooler inflows and be sure to have terrestrial patterns in your fly box.
Our recent thundershowers and showers benefit regional small streams big time. Flows stay up and water temperatures tend not to rise as they would under drier conditions. Another benefit is that increases in relative humidity before an particularly after a storm enhance aquatic insect emmergences. But for sure it is best to delay fishing for a day or so after a moderate rainfall, or to wait until a stream known to discolor clears up. Some area streams that have benefited from recent rainfall include the South Fork/Palisades Reservoir tributaries (Palisades, Big Elk, Bear, McCoy Creeks), Bitch Creek, Medicine Lodge Creek, Beaver Creek, Diamond Creek, Little Lost River/Sawmill Creek, and the Salt River tributaries. These streams are all uncrowded, and they are beginning to see plenty of terrestrial insects in surroundings. Some host trout to trophy sizes. Get in touch with us for more info on any of them and on other small streams worthy of a visit.
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.