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Henry’s Fork

Jimmy's All Seasons Angler / Henry’s Fork

Henry’s Fork, May 4th, 2021

Stonefly

Courtesy Dave Pace

This weekend a lone adult giant stone fly was spotted by a team of drift boat fly-fishers along the river between Stone Bridge and Ashton. Certainly an “early bird”, it best suggests that it is time to offer giant stone fly nymph patterns when fishing the river from Warm River to Chester. For now the other patterns we have suggested in recent fishing reports ( BWO, caddis, and midge life cycle patterns, streamers, and small nymphs of choice) will work fine until later this month when the bulk of the big stone fly activity begins.

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Henry’s Fork, April 17th, 2021

Fun Farm Bridge (1024x768)

Fun Farm Bridge

Currently the best stream fishing in the area is on the  lower Henry’s Fork. From the Ora Bridge down to Chester, BWO, midge and a scattering of March Browns bring top water action. Drifting big stonefly nymphs through riffles will is become more effective as we progress toward mid-May. Streamers under low light conditions continue to produce for browns and post-spawning rainbows.  These comments also apply to the river from Chester Dam to below St. Anthony. Drift boat fishers cause “traffic jams” at all launch sites from the Ora Bridge to Chester Dam, but there is room for walk-in wade fishing. From Warm River to Ashton Reservoir there is less crowding because distance spreads anglers around. The same comments apply with respect to fishing strategy but with drift boat fishing obviously the best way to cover water.

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Henry’s Fork, April 13th, 2021

Expect to have plenty of company if you visit the river from the Ora Bridge launch down to the Chester launch. BWO and midge life cycle and stonefly nymph patterns along with streamers under low light conditions are best bets for action. With more river to visit from Stone Bridge to Ashton, visiting anglers  are more dispersed than in the river below Ashton Dam.

Here is Rob VanKirk’s latest summary of snow pack and water conditions in the Henry’s Fork drainage.  Notice that snow pack conditions appear to be a bit below normal at the time of his report.

Headlines:

  • Modest snowmelt continued yesterday at all elevations, despite cool temperatures.
  • Natural streamflow continued its recession from last week’s small peak and was 84% of average yesterday.
  • At a mean outflow of 418 cfs, Island Park Reservoir gained 22 ac-ft yesterday. Current content is 120,795 ac-ft (89% full), compared with an average of 115,907 ac-ft (86% full).

Details:

Yesterday was dry yet again, but at least temperatures were cooler. Mean temperature was 9 degrees F below average and the coolest since March 31. Water-year precipitation to date stayed at 81% of average. Despite cool temperatures, all but one SnoTel station lost snow water equivalent (SWE) yesterday. Island Park lost the most, at 0.5 inch of melt, and the watershed total was 0.2 inch. Melt rate has averaged 0.13 inch/day over the first 12 days of April so far. SWE is 78% of average and lower than it was on this date in 2016, the last very dry year experienced in the watershed.

Light precipitation—in the form of snow at all elevations—is expected tomorrow and Thursday. Forecast amounts range from around 0.1 inch in the northeastern corner of the watershed to 0.5 inch in the southern part of the Teton Range. Valley areas and the Teton subwatershed are expected to receive the highest amounts. Cool temperatures will stick around through the end of the week. Warm, dry conditions are expected after that.

Natural streamflow continued to drop yesterday, despite ongoing snowmelt. Natural flow was 84% of average yesterday: 81% in upper Henry’s Fork, 83% in Fall River, and 91% in Teton River. Diversion continues to increase slowly, although data are not yet being reported for all canals. Moisture availability in the agricultural areas—defined by my crude difference between precipitation and evapotranspiration—continues to drop and is now almost 7 inches below average. I have already had to extend the vertical axis on the chart twice since last summer and may need to do so again in a week or so.

At an average outflow of 418 cfs, Island Park Reservoir gained 22 ac-ft yesterday. Current content is 120,795 ac-ft (89% full), compared with an average of 115,907 ac-ft (86% full). Although ice is starting to melt at the edges at some locations around the reservoir, Fall River Electric personnel report solid ice cover around the dam.

Graphics:

Watershed SWE

HFW.SWE (002)

 

 

Natural Stream Flow

Nat.Streamflow

 

 

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Henry’s Fork, March 23rd, 2021

The Henry’s Fork below St. Anthony is a productive fishery with an increasing brown trout population. Recently IDF&G fisheries personnel have completed a survey of its salmonid population. The results of this survey are given below.

Trout Populations are Strong in the Henry’s Fork near St. Anthony

By John Heckel

Regional Fisheries Biologist

 

HF brownHF brown2

In early October 2020, we conducted our 6th population estimate on the St. Anthony reach of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. This estimate is conducted in the fall every three years and extends from the Railroad Bridge downstream to the Red Road Bridge. Based on our sampling data since 2010, we can see an increasing trend in Brown Trout abundance in this reach.

HF brown grapf

We can see in the figure above that the number of Brown Trout per mile has been increasing since we started surveying the reach in 2004 while Rainbow Trout abundance has remained low and relatively constant. Currently, Brown Trout make up 96% of the trout composition in this reach where we caught 1,468 trout in total. As can be seen in the images, there are some very large Brown Trout with fish up to 25” in this reach!

The trout population in this portion of the Henry’s Fork is managed as a wild trout fishery, so these large trout captured in this reach are in fact wild fish. Therefore, referring to the length distribution of fish captured here, this section of river grows some very large trout.

HF brown graph2

Although water temperature in this section of the Henry’s Fork can become warmer than 70°F during portions of the summer, trout can find thermal refugia from groundwater and spring inputs that help coldwater fish remain cool. In addition to Brown and Rainbow trout, we also estimated Mountain Whitefish abundance in the reach. There were 685 whitefish per mile. Based on our length frequency data from Mountain Whitefish we observed several age classes present, which is evident by the multiple peaks in different length groups.

HFbrown graph3

Survey results indicate sport fish populations in the St. Anthony reach are healthy and in good numbers. Managing this section of the river as a wild trout fishery with a 2 trout limit appears to be conducive for growing large fish and allowing population numbers to increase.

 

 

 

 

 

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Henry’s Fork, March 13th, 2021

Midge and BWO activities are bringing fly fishers to locations from Ora Bridge downstream to the Fun Farm Bridge area.  Use life cycle patterns for each activity.  Presenting streamer and woolly bugger patterns is effective for encountering post spawning rainbows. Some rainbow spawning remains, so avoid  places where such is ongoing. Stream flow in this area is near normal.

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Henry’s Fork, February 9th, 2021

Are you interested in doing a trip to fish the upper Henry’s Fork and drainage during the upcoming season? Would seeing how snow and water conditions appear to be stacking up to help in planning? The information Dr. Rob VanKirk compiles may help. Rob’s analyses, and reports on water and snow conditions is as good as it gets.   Below is Rob’s latest update.

Henry’s Fork Water Supply, Feb 09 2021

Headlines:

  • After a dry day, water-year precipitation is 84% of average, and SWE is 85% of average.
  • Island Park Reservoir gained 112 ac-ft yesterday, typical of fill on recent dry days.
  • The reservoir is 87% full, compared with 75% full on average.
  • Weather forecasts continue to lean more toward wetter, warmer conditions and away from the extreme cold forecast last week.

Details:

At 6 degrees F below average, yesterday was the coldest in 13 days. Only a trace of precipitation was recorded, leaving the water-year total at 84% of average. Snow water equivalent (SWE) dropped a percentage point to 85% of average. After declining steadily since last July, the three-year average watershed precipitation appears to have bottomed out in the past two weeks and should increase a bit over the next few weeks, if precipitation forecasts prove to be accurate. This index of long-term watershed conditions is just a hair above average right now.

 

Forecasts are still uncertain about the details of weather over the next week but continue to gain confidence in warmer, wetter conditions than were forecast last week. Very cold air is expected to stay just on the other side of the Continental Divide, leaving us on the warm, wet side. “Warm” is relative, as temperatures are likely to be near average for the next week, a few degrees colder than last week. Regardless of temperature, snow is certain on Thursday and Friday and likely again early next week. The 7-day forecast calls for 0.25 inch across the lower elevations and up to 3 inches at the southern end of the Teton Range. As was the case last week, precipitation will favor the southeastern corner of the watershed. If forecast amounts materialize, SWE in Fall River and Teton River subwatersheds will improve to 90-92% of average by this time next week. SWE in the upper Henry’s Fork will remain at or below 80% of average.

 

Island Park Reservoir gained 112 ac-ft yesterday, typical of fill rate on dry days. The reservoir is 87% full, compared with 75% full on average. The reservoir will reach the April-1 target of 120,000 ac-ft around March 1.

 

Graphics:

  • Watershed three-year precipitation average
  • Island Park Reservoir inflow/outflow: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: predicted vs. observed

Three.year.precipIPInflow.15minIPVol.15minw.IPfill.obs

Station guide and disclaimer

Glossary of Terms

 

Rob Van Kirk, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Henry’s Fork Foundation

P.O. Box 550

Ashton, ID 83420

208-652-3567 OFFICE

208-881-3407 CELL

208-652-3568 FAX

 

[email protected]

Rob’s blog

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Henry’s Fork, February 2nd, 2021

Midge hatches are beginning to appear on the lower river, but access can be a problem at many points.

Are you interested in doing a trip to fish the upper Henry’s Fork and drainage during the upcoming season? Would seeing how snow and water conditions appear to be stacking up to help in planning? The information Rob VanKirk compiles may help. Rob’s analyses, and reports on water and snow conditions is as good as it gets.   Below is Rob’s latest update.

Henry’s Fork Water Supply, Feb 02 2021

 

  • After a dry day, water-year total precipitation and SWE are both at 80% of average.
  • Island Park Reservoir gained 99 ac-ft yesterday, compared with 65 ac-ft/day needed to reach the target volume of 120,000 ac-ft by April 1.
  • The reservoir is 86% full, compared with 74% full on average.

Details:

Yesterday was warm and dry. Although the daily mean temperature was similar to that on Saturday, the afternoon high was the warmest since December 9. Water-year precipitation and snow water equivalent (SWE) are both at 80% of average. Precipitation is expected again tonight through Friday. The seven-day quantitative forecast calls for around 0.25 inch in the valleys, 0.5-0.75 inch in Island Park, and up to 2 inches in the Teton Range. Precipitation over the next week is expected to favor the southeastern corner of the watershed due to northwesterly flow.

 

The new monthly outlook issued yesterday gives better-than-even odds for above-average precipitation during the month of February, but one- and three-month outlooks have not performed well so far this winter. As mentioned yesterday, precipitation has been below average in three of the four months in this water year so far, long-range outlooks to the contrary.

 

Natural flow in the upper Henry’s Fork and Teton River continue to bounce around in the range of 90-95% of average. Contrary to my expectations, warm weather last week has not resulted in new streamflow data from ice-affected stations in the lower watershed.

 

Island Park Reservoir gained 99 ac-ft yesterday, compared with 65 ac-ft/day needed to reach the target volume of 120,000 ac-ft by April 1. The reservoir is 86% full, compared with 74% full on average. Reservoir volume is 116,143 ac-ft, 3,481 ac-ft ahead of my November-19 projection. If the seven-day precipitation forecast proves to be correct—and these short-range forecasts have performed well this winter—the reservoir will gain 310 ac-ft from direct precipitation and a total of around 1,000 ac-ft over the next week.

 

Graphics:

  • Watershed SWE
  • Island Park Reservoir inflow/outflow: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: predicted vs. observed

HFW.SWEIPInflow.15minIPVol.15minw.IPfill.obs

Station guide and disclaimer

Glossary of Terms

 

Rob Van Kirk, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Henry’s Fork Foundation

P.O. Box 550

Ashton, ID 83420

208-652-3567 OFFICE

208-881-3407 CELL

208-652-3568 FAX

 

[email protected]

Rob’s blog

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Henry’s Fork, January 19th, 2020

Many fly-fishers are interested in how winter’s progress will impact fishing quality in the Henry’s Fork and its drainage during the upcoming season. Dr. Rob Van Kirk, Henry’s Fork Foundation Senior Scientist, compiles and offers a water supply report sequentially throughout the year for the river and drainage. We at Jimmy’s believe that placing on our web site Rob’s presentation and analysis of data impacting Henry’s Fork water supply provides to a wider range of interested fly fishers more information with which to judge quality in its upcoming season. We therefore will provide Rob’s updates here during the winter season and into the irrigation season. The second of these is below.

Henry’s Fork Water Supply, Jan. 19, 2021

Headlines:

  • Continued dry weather has dropped water-year precipitation and SWE below 80% of average.
  • Over the past four days, Island Park Reservoir has gained 144 ac-ft/day; a fill rate of only 89 ac-ft per day is needed to reach the targeted capacity by April 1.
  • The reservoir is 84% full, compared with my projected value of 82% full and the long-term average of 73% full.

Details:

Weather over the past 10 days has been dry, with seasonable temperatures. Mean temperature last week was 1 degree F above average, and precipitation was around two-thirds of average for a mid-January week. Water-year precipitation to date is 79% of average this morning, and snow water equivalent (SWE) is 78% of average. Both indices have hovered around 80% of average for the past month. Snow accumulation will need to be 120% of average for the remainder of the winter just to reach average by early April.

 

The overall weather pattern over the western U.S. is expected to shift toward wetter conditions on Thursday. Areas of the drought-stricken Southwest will pick up the largest amounts of moisture. Over the next week, the Henry’s Fork watershed is expected to receive around 0.25 inch of precipitation in the valleys and around 1 inch in the Teton Range. Precipitation will favor the southern part of the watershed. Medium- and long-range outlooks continue to trend toward colder, wetter conditions for the entire western U.S., including our region.

Streamflow continues to be affected by cycles of river-ice formation and breakup. Natural streamflow yesterday was 92% of average in both upper Henry’s Fork and Teton River. The streamflow gage on Fall River at Chester has not reported accurate data since ice first formed in early December, but stream gages farther upstream show streamflow to be near average.

Island Park Reservoir fill continues to exceed both my predictions and the rate needed to reach the targeted content of 120,000 ac-ft by April 1. At an average outflow of 379 cfs, the reservoir has gained 144 ac-ft/day over the past four days, of which 28 ac-ft/day was due to direct precipitation on the reservoir surface. A fill rate of only 89 ac-ft/day is needed to reach 120,000 ac-ft by April 1. The reservoir is currently 84% full, compared with 73% full on average. By current USGS gage data, which is subject to change based on the next rating-curve adjustment, mean reservoir outflow since December 1 is 350 cfs, compared with 348 cfs on average. The Drought Management Planning Committee’s winter target outflow of 330 cfs is within streamflow measurement uncertainty around the nominal 350 cfs.

Graphics:

  • Weekly climate summary table
  • Weekly SWE summary table
  • Watershed SWE
  • Island Park Reservoir inflow/outflow: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: predicted vs. observed

Station guide and disclaimer

Glossary of Terms

Rob Van Kirk, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Henry’s Fork Foundation

P.O. Box 550

Ashton, ID 83420

208-652-3567 OFFICE

208-881-3407 CELL

 

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Henry’s Fork, January 5th, 2021

Many fly-fishers are interested in how winter’s progress will impact fishing quality in the Henry’s Fork and its drainage during the upcoming season. Dr. Rob Van Kirk, Henry’s Fork Foundation Senior Scientist, compiles and offers a water supply report sequentially throughout the year for the river and drainage. We at Jimmy’s believe that placing on our web site Rob’s presentation and analysis of data impacting Henry’s Fork water supply provides to a wider range of interested fly fishers more information with which to judge quality in its upcoming season. We therefore will provide Rob’s updates here during the winter season and into the irrigation season. The first of these is below.

Henry’s Fork water supply, Jan 05 2021

Headlines:

  • Another warm, wet day increased water-year precipitation to 82% of average and SWE to 85% of average.
  • At an outflow of 329 cfs, Island Park Reservoir gained 443 ac-ft yesterday, one-third of which was from direct precipitation on the reservoir surface.
  • The reservoir is 82% full and filling at well over twice the rate needed to reach the April-1 target.

Details:

Mean temperature yesterday was 10 degrees F above average, and precipitation was recorded at all stations except Alta. As predicted, precipitation heavily favored the upper Henry’s Fork for a change, where amounts through midnight ranged from 0.3 inch at Island Park to 0.7 inch at White Elephant and Black Bear. Ashton was again the winner in the valleys with 0.16 inch. Water-year total precipitation increased to 82% of average, and snow water equivalent (SWE) increased to 85% of average. Precipitation is continuing this morning, so storm totals will end up being quite a bit higher than reported through midnight. Only light precipitation is forecast for the next seven days, and the long-term outlooks call for generally dry conditions next week.

 

At an outflow of 329 cfs, Island Park Reservoir gained 443 ac-ft yesterday, one-third of which was from direct precipitation on the reservoir surface. The reservoir is 82% full, compared with 70% full on average. Fill rate has averaged 229 ac-ft/day since December 1, and a fill rate of only 103 ac-ft/day is needed for the rest of the winter to meet the April-1 target. Reservoir content is 1,880 ac-ft ahead of my November 19 prediction, which assumed an outflow of 330 cfs. As mentioned previously, higher-than-expected fill rate is due to a combination of slightly higher inflow and slightly lower outflow, at least according to our streamflow measurements earlier in December and to the power plant operator. According to USGS data, updated in mid-December, outflow since December 1 has averaged 344 cfs, compared with 341 cfs on average.

 

Graphics:

  • Watershed SWE
  • Island Park Reservoir inflow/outflow: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: 15-minute data
  • Island Park Reservoir volume: predicted vs. observed

 

Station guide and disclaimer

Glossary of Terms

 

Rob Van Kirk, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Henry’s Fork Foundation

P.O. Box 550

Ashton, ID 83420

208-652-3567 OFFICE

208-881-3407 CELL

208-652-3568 FAX

 

[email protected]

Rob’s blog

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