Green and gray drakes are winding down now on the upper river, but flavs and brown drakes are coming on. PMDs remain a major attraction for feeding trout here. Best time for flavs on the upper river is afternoon. For brown drakes best time is evening, and the lower end of the Harriman State Park reach offers the best numbers of these drakes. You will have plenty of company during these destination events, but the beauty of the area and the size of the fish makes a visit worthwhile.
Perhaps the best fishing on the irrigation reservoirs can be experienced on Daniels and Twenty-Four Mile reservoirs. Presenting damselfly life cycle patterns seems to work best on these. Try placing a damselfly nymph under an indicator and let it drift. The trick here is to stay focused on that indicator. Try the same with a midge pupa pattern. Some of the smaller still waters around the upper valley should be considered candidates for a visit. Good damselfly emergences take place on Paul Reservoir, Aldous Lake, the Harriman Fish Pond, and Horseshoe Lake. Aldous Lake requires a mile walk while packing a float tube or such, but you can drive easily to the other three. Sand Creek Ponds open for boat fishing July 16th, but we have reports of some good results from shore line fishing thanks to damselfly activity.
These are all in good shape now. This weekend we tried a great one for the entry level fly-fisher. McCoy Creek (From Alpine, WY go south on US 89 to the McCoy Road which goes back into Idaho along the southwest side of Palisades Reservoir) is a major rearing stream for cutthroat trout. This time of year a braggin’ fish there may be just over a foot long, but the creek is full of them feeding on caddisflies and PMDs right now. Take that youngster to a meadow location on this creek and present life cycle patterns of these for sure-fire action. Traditional attractor patterns (size 12-14) will also work. An ultra-light rod is ideal, and so is a floating line rigged with a 4X tippet.
For weeks now the South Fork has seen constant flows (12800 cfs) coming out of Palisades Dam. That kind of stability helps make for the great fishing we are seeing now. Water temps at the dam are around 58 deg F. but will begin rising as we head through July. Right now big stoneflies are in the Swan Valley reach of the river (get to Huskey’s, Spring Creek, or Conant early if you want convenient parking!) . Golden stones are coming out just below. Yellows sallys are everywhere, and PMDs are emerging, so the river is doing what fly-fishers expect this time of year. There are many fly patterns that work for all of these, and we stock every one of them. None is particularly better than another given equal presentation. The best question to ask while deciding to purchase at dry pattern is: “Can I see this one on the broken surface that so much characterizes the South Fork? ” Here’s another tip for fishing this great river. In areas of broken surface, and most of this river has such, it is best to use a stout leader to present flies. This is especially true if you fish from a boat. Go to a 3X tippet in your favorite brand for presenting big stonefly patterns, especially from a boat. For PMD emergers and duns use 4X, or even 3X. In broken water the fish are a lot less leader shy than in the slower moving water that resembles that in the Harriman reach of the Henry’s Fork, or Bechler River. The results of using this stronger leader will be more fish brought to the net.
On the upper river flavs have begun showing, but green drakes and PMDs are still bringing much action in the Harriman-Last Chance area. It appears that these mayflies are hatching in numbers as good as any in recent years, and fishing is great because of it. So get up there, and enjoy! Here’s a thought: be sure to have a few of your favorite dry golden stone patterns in that fly box. Those older fish know what they are, and will take them. You may get fewer fish than those folks presenting mayfly life cycle patterns, but the fish responding to that golden stone pattern will average bigger sizes. On the lower river gray drakes and PMDs remain numerous and provide good fishing, but look for water to begin warming because of our hot weather.
I promised a report on fishing Bechler Meadows, so here goes. We walked in as planned last Wednesday. There had been about an inch of rain in the area in the last few days, so the Cave Falls road was dust free. Too bad the mosquitoes (bad!) had not been drowned by that rain! We arrived at the river about mid morning to see that it was still low for the time of year, but had gained water (a long term blessing this year!)because of the recent rain. Not much happened on top until around 3PM when water temp warmed enough to begin the PMD emergence. With that, those big hybrids began reacting, but not with usual gusto because of earthworms, etc. washed into stream by rain-induced flow increase. We caught some fish up to around four pounds, then left to find a “grizzly bear calling card” smack in mid-trail on the way out. Considering trying the river or Boundary Creek this low water year? Better hurry! Elsewhere the Madison River inside the Park features great afternoon action from fish responding to PMD and caddisfly hatches. Lewis River streamer fishing is holding up, and northeast corner streams are losing run-off . Shoshone Lake remains good fishing for those anglers using boats or ‘tubes to get out to submerged weed beds where black leech and scud patterns are producing. Heart Lake Basin opens to fishing Monday, July 1st. Likely because of low, warm water best fishing by wading will be the river just below the lake where those big cutts will be looking for giant stoneflies flying from the canyon below.
Big stoneflies are emerging from the Madison River. Recently presenting big nymph patterns up to the Three Dollar Bridge area has been productive. That is changing now as adults are appearing. Look for them to be out in force between Quake and Hebgen Lakes soon.
Even with low water Chesterfield Reservoir offers good fishing when damselfly nymph patterns are presented. Look for submerged weed beds and other vegetation for best areas to try. Twenty-Four Mile Reservoir has better water conditions and more consistent fishing. Water is sure to get lower and warmer later this summer, so your chances for best fishing here are now. Want to try an “off the beaten path” still water locations? Take a look at our Articles page for some candidates.
Fishing is holding up well with PMDs and caddisflies making the Madison River a destination. Firehole River is beginning to warm, but fishing is holding up. Some of the best current streamer fishing in the Park is on the Lewis River. Be ready to fish around boats and canoes heading into Shoshone Lake. Best way to avoid this traffic is to fish in the late afternoon and evening. Green drakes should be hatching on the river below Lewis Lake. We are heading into Bechler Meadows tomorrow where river and Boundary Creek should be in good shape for dry fly fishing. Sallys and PMDs should bring fish to the top to feed. Expect a report later this week.