South Fork & Henry's Fork Fishing Reports

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South Fork

Jimmy's All Seasons Angler / South Fork (Page 64)

South Fork 6-10-09

We continue to hear great things about the South Fork. No dry fly action to really speak of but the nymphing and streamer fishing is really picking up. As we get closer to the stonefly hatch at the end of June and the beginning of July, I would start fishing two rubberlegs below an indicator. Fish a #4 and drop a #6, or #8 about 18 inches below. San Juan worms, bead head nymphs are also producing fish. The fish have started moving to the banks and into the drop off of the riffles. As always with the change in the lower river because of the high water, if you are unsure about a side channel walk it before you float it. If you have any questions on the new regulations for camping in the canyon or on river character, please call us, or check an earlier post from the “Today at Jimmy’s” blog. You can reach that post by clicking here.


South Fork 6-08-09

The flows on the South Fork have stayed steady at 10.700cfs. The river is fishing really well with big rubberleg nymphs, pheasants tails, prince nymphs, and copper johns. Streamers have also been fishing really well, especially on cloudy days. Use a sink tip while fishing streamers and slow down the presentation. Also try fishing a conehead J.J. Special dead drifted like a nymph under a strike indicator. Clousers and Zonkers are producing fish as well.

The South Channel that floats to the Twin Bridges Boat Ramp has an obstacle that needs some attention for your safety. As you travel to the boat ramp the channel will become very narrow and there is a large tree has fallen over. We have included some photos for you.


This is looking downstream into the narrow channel.


This photo is taken looking back upstream at the fallen log.

This channel is passable as long as the water stays at its current level. As soon as we see an increase in the flows floating to the Twin Bridges Boat Ramp will be out of the question because you will not be able to get your boat over or under this log. As always this time of year check out Channels if you are unsure if they are passable.


South Fork 6-04-09

Flow out of Palisades Dam has been stable at just under 11000 cfs for four or five days now.  Stable flows  bode well for fishing.  So keep on pitching streamers close to banks, into backwaters, and through side channels.  Do the same with big nymph and rubberleg patterns.  Try medium sized (10-12) bead head nymphs in riffles and around transitions.  All these are working well up and down the river for float fishers.  Wading is still a bit tough for getting access because of the flow level.   No big stoneflies yet, but when they become active late this month, we’ll let you know here.  And remember to use caution on the lower river because of changes in flow patterns.


South Fork 6-01-09

The South Fork has been fishing really well. If you are looking to drift some big nymphs or catch a nice trout on a streamer the South Fork is your ticket to fun! Rubberlegs, larger bead head nymphs in a size #12 or #14 is your best recipe for catching fish. streamers presented against the bank and in back eddies presented slow are enticing large fish to eat.  Use a heavy sink to get to those big boys on the bottom of the river. The flows have been dropping and the current flow today is 10,700 cfs which is a bit below normal. This will only make the fishing better. All boats ramps are open, but please use caution while floating the lower river below Byington. Things have changed here and you need to be constantly looking ahead to stay out of trouble.


South Fork 5-28-09

Flow out of Palisades Dam remains stable, and fishing from there through Swan Valley is good. The trick is to use nymphs (try rubberlegs!) and streamers around drop-offs & transitions.  Same applies downstream into the canyon, but fishing here seems a bit slower.  No dry flies of significance yet.  We note that the river below Heise, in particular, has changed somewhat in character because of recent high water.  If you plan to float through this section, consider scouting it from the sidelines a bit to note changes and to minimize surprises.


South Fork 05-26-09

Water conditions on the South fork are much better than we expected to see at this time of year. The flow from the Palisades  Dam is 12,700 with a slight greenish tint. Water temp is in the mid 40’s. We have had our best luck on streamers fished on type IV full sinking lines or long 20 foot  type 4 or 6 sink tips. The fish have been holding on the slower banks and pools. Our best technique is casting the fly straight at the bank from a boat and making a downstream mend. Let the fly sink and begin to swim (or drag) downstream. As the fly swings out begin stripping the sinking line back in.  Some of the takes have actually been on the swing out before you begin striping the fly. Some takes have also been as you pull the fly from the river to recast.

Our best patterns have been:

#4 Clouser Minnows in a chartruese/white color combo,

Belly Ache Minnow in size 4,

Prince-of-a buggers (Brown) in size 4.

Galloup”s Sex Dungeon in size 2 (Olive or Black)

Stenersen’s Olive or Gray String Leech in size #6

Olive, Black or white Conehead Zuddlers in size4

We have also had good luck on a Bennett’s Rubber Leg with either a glo bug or San Juan Worm dropper. We using these flies on a floating line with and indictor.

One note about the lower river below Byington. The river has changed dramatically. Many of the channels we floated last year are dry and new ones have been cut. The same goes for tree and brush piles. Some have moved or have additions to them while other are completely gone. Please be carefull when you leave the main river to enter a side channel.  If you are not quite sure about what might be ahead give yourself plenty of room and time to stop and  look.


South Fork 5-25-09

Flows are just about normal from Palisades Dam to Heise. The river in Swan Valley remains the best fishing, but we are seeing improvements in fishing success from there on down through the canyon. Big nymphs (Rubber legs variations seem to be the patterns of choice) and streamers presented deep are most effective. Fishing from a boat brings the best results.  No dry flies yet, but the days that make the South Fork so famous are not far away.   We will report progress towards those days right here.


South Fork 5-18-09

Flow out of Palisades Dam will remain fairly steady at around 12000-13000 cfs for the near future.  Fishing in the upper Swan Valley section of the river has been fairly good for those presenting rubber leg patterns, beadhead nymphs, and streamers on sink tip lines.  Side channels produce the best action.  Try those around Fall Creek Campground.  Below where run-off from tribs accumulates the river is colder and fishing slows.  With warming weather look for runoff to continue here for a while.  We’ll post more info on fishing the South Fork before Memorial Day weekend.


South Fork 5-15-09

Flows on the South Fork have been dropped down to 12,700 cfs. Water coming out of the Palisades dam right now is a little off color. Nymphing large rubberlegs and glo bugs will produce the best oppertunity to hook up with fish. Presenting streamers will also produce fish. Look for the fish to be holding in slow water and in back eddy’s. Floating below Twin Bridges is still extrmely dangerous, if you float the lower river we advise that you use extreme caution. Pull over and walk side channels before you float down them. At anytime if you have a question or can not see around a corner get out of your boat and take a look. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And when I say sorry I mean sinking your boat, loose all your gear, and possible risk your life! As the weather warms up and people start getting out more please be safe and use common sense on the river. Courtesy can go a long way.


South Fork 5-14-09

Flow out of  Palisades has been ramped down to 12800 cfs and probably will stay around there for a while to balance with expected run-off inflow and fill the reservoir.  A flush to help manage cutthroat and rainbow downstream is possible late this month.  For now fishing the river channels in Swan Valley with large nymphs and streamers will be the best way to find action.   Run-off from tributaries below Swan Valley discolors the river making fishing success difficult.