The lake was slow fishing during opening weekend, but some large fish were caught. Leech patterns worked best. Because ice-out happened several days ago the lake has apparently warmed enough for many fish to move to deeper water.
All roads accessing Palisades Reservoir tributaries are open with the exception of the Jensen Creek Road connecting Bear and McCoy Creeks. Some grading is ongoing on the upstream end of the McCoy Creek Road. All Palisades Reservoir tributaries are currently running high and discolored.
All streams in the park, including the Firehole River, are high. The Ashton-Flagg Road is open to the Jackass Loop just beyond the South Boone Creek crossing. This prevents access to Fall River in the Park where water is high with run-off and likely not offering good fishing. It is likely that this road will not open for about another month for those folks wanting access to Beula Lake and upper Fall River.
Here is some road information for getting into two popular family fishing still waters. As of today, snow blocks the Horseshoe Lake Road just as the lake is approached. The Fish Creek Road currently remains snow covered preventing access to Fish Creek Pond ( Teardrop Lake). Further information on these and other back country roads in Caribou-Targhee National Forest can be obtained through such as the Ashton District (208-652-7442) and Palisades District (208-523-1412) offices.
Flow out of Island Park Dam was nearly doubled Wednesday. That action along with a big rainstorm the same evening has slowed fishing temporarily in the Box Canyon-Last Chance section of the river. The same could be the case for the river in the Riverside area where the big bugs will likely show very soon. This rise in flow is unlikely to impact fishing in the lower river where giant and golden stone fly adult patterns rule the roost with respect to being effective all the way from the slide below lower Mesa Falls to Chester. Here’s an update: as of Memorial Day the big stoneflies are beginning to fly in lower Box Canyon.
Flow out of Palisades Dam was increased to 19100 cfs Wednesday (Now 19400 cfs at Heise, 14900 cfs at Lorenzo). With the reservoir about 75 % full and over 30000 cfs coming into it, an increase in outflow seems necessary. However with irrigation water being taken out on a large scale, flow below Byington is about 14500 cfs which is about double for this time of year. Water is discolored with suspended matter. We have a few reports of exposed gravel bars and some fishing action below Byington where rubberlegs and brightly colored streamer patterns sunk deep are interesting fish. No dry fly action yet, but at least something is going on with respect to fishing on the lower river. Above Byington it is best to try drop-offs and any gravel bars that are not in deep water. A weighted rubberlegs trailed with a San Juan worm trailor might be the best way to interest fish.
Big bugs are out big time from Ora to Vernon Bridges and increasing from Warm River to top of Ashton Reservoir. But the same goes for float and wading anglers. Anywhere you try in these areas you will experience REAL crowds of fly-fishers. I hope you are exposed to good stream etiquette along these places. Whether you are or are not exposed to such, strive to be a good example of such. Understand that as the big bug emergence moves upstream, there are a number of location in which you can find minimized crowding. Try walking down to the river from the old Bear Gulch ski area. Best fishing here is upstream. Try the river from the Sheep Falls Road off Highway 20 or from the Mesa Falls Park just off the Mesa Falls Scenic Highway. Try the river from the West Hatchery Ford Road from the Highway 20 side, or walk downstream from Riverside campground. These and other unmentioned places will have more solitude, tranquility, and likely better fishing than the easily approached locations most folks frequent along the river. Be assured that any big floating fly pattern resembling a giant stonefly will work; just place that pattern close or drift it by or under vegetation hanging over banks, beneath cliffs, around rocks above the surface, or any object protruding into the river.
It’s not all bad news for the South Fork, because nymph fishing seems to be improving. Currently Palisades Reservoir is at 60% of capacity. Water coming out is cold, but clearing, and flow out of Palisades Dam has been nearly constant at 16000 cfs for about two weeks. So stable conditions are present. Big rubber legs and stonefly nymph patterns work as do small bead head nymphs in riffles.
From Cardiac Canyon downstream to Chester backwaters and a bit later in Box Canyon big stonefly nymphs are moving toward banks or already there. Soon there will be enough of them flying over the river to drop eggs, and drifting that trout will respond with rises to the surface to take them. We have a number of patterns that are excellent imitations for these insects as well as the tackle to present them. Patterns include such as Chernobyl, CFO, and stimulator variations to old stand-by sofa pillows and Bird’s Stones. Because of conditions on the South Fork, expect crowds wherever you try your luck on the river during this event.