South Fork & Henry's Fork Fishing Reports

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South Fork

Jimmy's All Seasons Angler / South Fork (Page 38)

South Fork 9-18-12

Some cloudy weather sure would help increase the BWO emergence. It looks like the beginning of next week may bring some. The river has stabilized with respect to flow changes. The last drop was back on September 14th, and responses from fish are back to normal.  However, the reservoir is less than twenty per cent of capacity, and storage for next year’s irrigation season must begin.  So more decreases in flow out of Palisades Dam must be expected in the coming weeks.  As we learn of these flow changes, we will post them here and advise how such should impact your South Fork fishing strategy.


South Fork 9-14-12

The lower flows and dropping water temperatures have improved the fishing from what we experienced last weekend. The riffles have started to fish much better with better hatches of mahogany duns and blue wing olives. We had good success fishing the riffles even when there was no hatch with a two dry fly combo like #14  and #16 adams parachute trailed by a smaller blue wing or mahogany dry.

The flow is now down to 6710 cfs and with each drop the river becomes more accessible for  wading. As we get more information on Fall water levels we’ll pass it along.


South Fork 9-11-12

Just a few hours ago flow out of Palisades Dam was reduced to 7240 cfs.  At the Heise gauge it is about 9700 cfs.  This makes for easier wading, and just might be the ticket for improving riffle fishing when BWOs and mahogany duns peak.   Also we might see more mutant golden stones emerge. Wait a day or two for things to stabilize in the river and fishing will pick up.


South Fork 9-7-12

The flow has dropped to 9000 cfs from 9600 earlier in the week. We will continue to see these drops throughout the Fall. We are starting to see good hatches of Mahogany duns and some blue wings and the cooler nighttime temperatures we are experiencing now will make these hatches better. The cooler nights are actually making the water cooler downriver at Lorenzo where the water is 59.5 F versus the temp below Palisades Dam which is 62.4F.  Some years we have seen better hatches downstream due to the cooler water temps.

Fishing with Chernobyls should improve also with each water drop. Early Fall is also the time to start using streamers more.

Finally we received info from Idaho Dept of Fish and Game on the whitefish mortality. We’ve included their press release below.



September 4, 2012




IDAHO FALLS – Recent sightings of dead mountain whitefish have been reported from across the Upper Snake Region, including the Henrys Fork, South Fork Snake River, Teton River and main Snake River as far south as Firth.  Exactly why these fish are dying has been a mystery until now.  Preliminary results obtained by IDFG’s Fish Health Laboratory in Eagle show that the parasite Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae (also called PKD or Proliferative Kidney Disease) may be behind the deaths.  This rare parasite has not been documented in Idaho’s wild fish before, although it has been reported in both wild and hatchery trout and salmon in North America and in Europe.  This may be the first time the parasite has been detected in any whitefish species.  The life cycle of the parasite is not well understood, but involves a freshwater sponge as well as a fish.  Transmission and disease signs are linked to elevated water temperatures, which have been common in area waters this summer.  There are no known health risks to humans or other warm-blooded animals.


Although a likely cause of fish mortalities has been identified, new questions are arising as a result of this information.  For instance, IDFG does not know the level of impact the current outbreak may have on mountain whitefish populations, or if the parasite will also affect other species, such as trout.  Currently it appears only mountain whitefish have been affected.  Also unknown is why only younger whitefish have been affected, if the kill occurs periodically, or if this is the first time an outbreak has occurred.  Scientific literature indicates fish that survive an initial infection develop strong immunity to the parasite.  Additional samples will be collected and analyzed to verify the preliminary test results, and to look for the presence of this parasite in trout.  Structured sampling this fall will provide an insight into how extensive the kill has been on the South Fork Snake River.


For more information concerning this matter contact Upper Snake Regional Fisheries Manager Dan Garren at 208-525-7290 or at [email protected].




South Fork 9-4-12

Young whitefish dying here remains a mystery so far.  Now the same is being reported for the main stem Snake River (below the “South Fork” -Henry’s Fork confluence) and the Teton River. Flow out of Palisades Dam is dropping slowly.  Today its down to 10200 cfs meaning little impact on fishing.  So keep on pitching hopper and chernobyl-like patterns toward banks and stream-side cover.   The storage season is upon us with agricultural needs dropping, so it’s a matter of time for flows to drop significantly.  The next big mayfly emergence will be BWOs and mahogany duns in a matter of weeks.  Likely by then flows will be at a level better for fishing.


South Fork 9-1-12

Flow out of Palisades Dam is at 10300 cfs. With the reservoir about a third full fly-fishers are wondering when flows will be reduced to begin storage. It sure has been a spotty year for riffle fishing, but high water is likely not the only reason.  Nevertheless there remains time enough for some enjoyable riffle fishing if and when flow out of the dam drops further.           Mean while keep hitting the banks with hopper, chernobyl types, and super renegade patterns, and you will have some success. Don’t forget to include streamer patterns for evening fishing.


South Fork 8-28-12

The flow out of Palisades Dam has been just about stable for a long time now. The river is high for the time of year impacting riffle fishing. Other factors such as the warm summer (water coming out of Palisades Reservoir is around 64 deg. F. now) and the fact that hatches have off years too are involved. Nevertheless, you can find good fishing on the river by being an early bird.  It means getting on the river at sunrise, about 6:30 PM, but bringing those chernobyl types and favorite hopper patterns to slam the banks will bring action.  Early before sun gets on the water is also a good time to try streamers, so your favorite versions should in your fly box.

On the personal side, Wes Newman’s ashes were placed in the river this weekend.  He passed away July 24, 2011.  For those who remember, Wes was a South Fork advocate  the likes of which we will never see again with respect to knowledge, fishing ability, generosity, and personality.  His “foam stone” and “super-X” remain among the most effective patterns created for this and any other river.




South Fork 8-24-12


The flow is still stable at 10,900 cfs.  If you are willing to be a member of the Dawn Patrol there is some good fishing from daylight until 9 or 10 am with chernobyls and hoppers.  Monday night’s drop in the water made some of the riffles appear which has improved the mayfly hatches and fishing. Overall we have been experiencing better fishing the past week in addition to more consistent reports from anglers who are coming into the shop.

With each drop in the flow we should see more of the wingless golden stones emerge so the chernobyl patterns should continue to fish well.  Finally consider fishing a small terrestrial (ant or beetle) about two feet behind a bigger hopper or chernobyl. Try this two fly  technique latter in the day especially if fish  look at the fly and then turn away.


South Fork 8-21-12

Flow out of Palisades Dam was dropped to 11,000 cfs last night. Let’s see what impact is on fishing, especially in riffles.  Several dead or troubled whitefish have been spotted in the river below Byington.  Reason for this situation is presently unknown.  But IDF&G requests if you encounter whitefish in trouble on the river, but still alive, retrieve them if possible.  Pack them on ice (Don’t freeze ’em!) and  take to the IDF&G office on Commerce Drive.   IDF&G is conducting analyses on collected whitefish in attempts to solve this situation.


South Fork 8-18-12

Flow out of Palisades Dam stays around 124400-12500 cfs making for consistent conditions  including water temp. , currently about 64  deg. F.  That means fishing conditions have not changed much since our last report.  So for the time being continue to pitch chernobyl types, hopper patterns, and super renegades toward banks for good results. Expect spotty riffle fishing until flow out of Palisades Dam drops significantly.