Great news for the South Fork! We are at normal irrigation demand flows (currently 11900 cfs out of Palisades Dam, 14500 cfs at Heise) which may prevail for weeks, and the river is shaping up in a fly fishing sense. Established riffle areas have become riffles again, soft water is increasing in size & amount, and drop-offs are more easily approached. There are some physical changes in the river meaning new channels, movement of gravel bars and some riffles, size of islands, etc. This is especially true for the lower river. Consider that the South Fork from Byington downstream is a “new river.” That means new channels, new riffles, new drop-offs, new snags and log jams. In other words new everything. Changes such as these are to be expected because of length of time that the unusually high flows (since March) took place. All this means caution takes a front seat when fishing especially this section of river.
With respect to fly-fishing strategy, nymphing with such as rubber legs on down in size to your favorite bead head patterns are the way to go for now. With respect to dry fly presentation, effectiveness will improve as we move through the days ahead. So try your favorite golden stonefly adult pattern trailed with a small bead head nymph dropper such as copper john, zebra, or prince. PMDs and sallys are coming out on the lower river, but it may take a few days for trout to key on them in a serious manner. Below see some fly pattern info that you can use to build a inventory for upcoming trips on the South Fork (and Henry’s Fork)
We at Jimmy’s will keep on top of the South Fork’s return to its reputation as a great fly-fishing location. Get in touch with us for up-to-date info on it, or on any other area stream or still water.