South Fork & Henry's Fork Fishing Reports

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Main Stem Snake River

Jimmy's All Seasons Angler / Main Stem Snake River

Main Stem Snake River, March 2nd, 2021

Before flows increase, consider a trip to fish the Snake River below American Falls Dam where streamer presentation (cast and retrieve or drift under an indicator) is producing. Currently the reservoir is about 85 % full. The flow in the river below is somewhat under 400 cfs. This makes it easy to see all sub-surface features that can be dangerous to wading and it concentrates resident fish. However when irrigation begins in the Magic Valley, flows out of the dam will increase many times to satisfy water demands.  Now that we are in March, the increased flow could happen any time. We will keep track of how flows change here and give such information on this report to help you decide if a visit below the dam to fish is more or less an option.

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Main Stem Snake River, February 2nd, 2021

With flow coming out of American Falls Dam around 400 cfs and not much snow or ice around, now it is time to consider a trip to fish the river below. There is good access below the dam, and presenting streamer or leech patterns either by “cast and retrieve” or under an indicator is effective.  Experiment a bit to find the taking depth either way for the best success.

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Main Stem Snake River, January 5th, 2021

Float fishing is a very popular activity on the Snake River, thus IDF&G strives to maintain boat launch facilities in good shape. Here are descriptions of recent repairs and improvements to the much used Menan Boat Launch Site by Darin Schneider Idaho Fish and Game.

Menan Boat Dock Repair

After spending time in the Big Lost drainage, the maintenance crew switched gears and worked on the Snake River’s Menan Access site where they made boat ramp repairs and replaced the dock. Prior to repairs, the boat ramp was too short at low water, with broken ramp tiles that needed replaced. The old dock was rough on boats, and was often too far away from the ramp to be useful or too far from the bank to allow one to step on the dock from the bank.

Big Lost River Campsite

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Darin Schneider Idaho Fish and Game

An additional 7 feet of boat ramp were added using concrete tiles to extend this ramp (pictured below), and replaced broken tiles in the upper part of the ramp (pictured above).

Boat Ramp

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Darin Schneider Idaho Fish and Game

The new tiles were connected together prior to installing them into the river and then used diving equipment to attach the new set of tiles to the existing ramp.

Menan Boat Dock

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Darin Schneider Idaho Fish and Game

The repaired/extended boat ramp and the new dock in Menan are ready for use, but renovations are ongoing with plans for the installation of a gangway in 2021.

Menan Boat Dock

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Darin Schneider Idaho Fish and Game

The Upper Snake maintenance crew is always thinking outside of the box in an effort to provide the best public access sites possible in terms of usability and safety. “We enjoy what we do because we know how much the public values these access sites and the recreation activities these sites make possible,” says Recreational Site Maintenance Foreman Darin Schneider.  “I hope everyone is as happy as we are for what we have accomplished so far and stay tuned for more as we remain dedicated to continue maintaining and improving public access sites in the Upper Snake Region.”

Anglers are Reminded of Special Fishing Regulations on the Snake River Below American Falls Dam

Monday, December 28, 2020 – 3:49 PM MST

The tailrace fishery on the Snake River downstream of American Falls Dam to Eagle Rock has really grown in popularity over the past decade. This stretch of the Snake River has long produced a fabulous recreational fishery, one that has increased in both quality and diversity over recent history. Angler effort has followed suit, and for good reason—the fishing can be downright great throughout much of the year! The fishery is primarily supported by a combination of rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, and white sturgeon. Anglers from near and far enjoy this stretch of river and it has become somewhat of a destination trout fishery.  This winter has been no exception, with recent angler effort being fairly high. Along with that, Fish and Game has documented an unusually high rate of non-compliance with the winter fishing regulations. In fact, Conservation Officers have detected several hundred angling-related violations over the past year along this stretch of river. The intention here is to provide some clarity and guidance that will help anglers stay in compliance with the special rules used to manage this fishery. Hopefully, this will break-down the regulation complexity and help make anglers feel at ease when they check-out this section of the Snake River.

Some fish populations in this portion of the Snake River are managed using special angling regulations, or exceptions to the general Southeast Region Rules found in the Idaho Fish and Game fishing proclamations. The Snake River is divided into two distinct reaches based on fishery management: 1) the section from American Falls Dam downstream to Eagle Rock, and 2) the section from Eagle Rock downstream to the western boundary of the Gifford Springs boating fishing zone. The special fishing regulations for these two river reaches are as follows:

Snake River

Section: From the downstream side of the Gifford Springs boat fishing zone (western boundary) upstream to Eagle Rock

• Bass limit is 2, any size

• Trout limit is 6, only 2 may be Cutthroat Trout

Section: From Eagle Rock upstream to American Falls Dam

• October 16 through Friday before Memorial Day weekend – limit is 0 for game fish species, catch-and-release, no bait allowed, barbless hooks required

• Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through October 15 – bass limit is 2, any size; trout limit is 6, only 2 may be Cutthroat Trout, only 2 trout over 16 inches

With respect to the section from Eagle Rock to American Falls Dam, no harvest of game fish species is allowed between October 16th and the Friday before Memorial Day (that’s May 28th in 2021). In addition, anglers are not allowed to use bait and must use barbless hooks during this period. Bait and barbed hooks are allowed starting the Saturday before Memorial Day; however, the regulations still differ from the general fishing regulations. During this time, the daily bag limit for bass is two (both species combined) and the trout daily bag limit is six. Only two of a six trout daily bag may be cutthroat trout, and only two trout of any species may be longer than 16 inches.

From Eagle Rock downstream to the Gifford Springs area, the bass limit is two and trout limit is six. Again, only two of any trout in a six limit daily bag may be cutthroat trout. Any size trout may be harvested in this reach.

The intent of special angling regulations is to control angler interactions in a way that supports management direction and provides specific angling experiences. Special rules are an important tool that fishery managers use throughout the state to shape fisheries and angling experiences congruent with the state’s Fisheries Management Plan. Remember, nongame fish species may be harvested by any legal method at any time during the year.

Anglers are encouraged to contact the Southeast Regional office or try out IDFG’s fishing planner (https://idfg.idaho.gov/ifwis/fishingplanner/) for additional guidance and regulation-related information. For more about how to interpret and use the IDFG fishing proclamations, check out this video resource (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUbcBfalaM&feature=youtu.be).

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    D Teuscher
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Main Stem Snake River, October 27th, 2020

Dave R. and friend

It is probable that the Main Stem Snake River hosts the best brown trout population in eastern Idaho. Currently mature brown trout are in a spawning mode   which begins in late September and extends into late autumn here and in other area streams (lower Henry’s Fork, Portneuf River, South Fork, Warm River). Brown trout sweep out their nests, we call redds, in relatively shallow runs having gravel bottoms with moderate currents of clear, well oxygenated water.  Redds can be seen in this type of water as light colored areas containing indentations and varying in size from that of a broad-brimmed hat to a picnic table.  Sometimes these areas are interconnected. Under low light condition browns move into these to build then spawn.  They leave as daytime lighting increases.  As many as several hundred fertilized eggs can be deposited in a single redd.  Redds are fragile, so should not be disturbed or walked through. Such action not only disrupts structure but crushes fertilized eggs and releases them to drift in the current.  Also, it is not of a sporting nature to try to catch fish in the act of spawning.

Before and after spawning episodes browns move to adjacent in-stream areas offering maximum overhead cover. Typically these are deep holes and runs with structured bottoms.  Here they are “fair game” for fishing.  Streamer and egg patterns presented using sink-tip or full sink lines with stout leaders make a good strategy for encountering them.  Stout leaders allow hooked fish to be played and released quickly thus preserving their energy for the spawning process.  So it is that redds hold what is developing into the next generation of brown trout. Therefore the more redds and spawning fish within are left undisturbed the better are the chances that the next generation will be plentiful.

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Main Stem Snake River, October 20th, 2020

With flow a bit below normal or near it  everywhere above Shelley, there are many locations for walk-in fishing. Some convenient ones include top end of the Deer Parks above Menan,  just below the power plant upstream of Idaho Falls, Open areas in Freeman Park, Gem Lake Dam on either side of the river, just above and below the Shelley I-15 connector. Pitching streamer patterns using a sink-tip line gives the best chance for encountering big brown trout, while BWO and midge activity  is ongoing and attracts trout for the top water enthusiast.

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Main Stem Snake River, October 17th, 2020

Dropping flows mean more walk-in locations anywhere on the river.   From below American Falls Dam to the South Fork-Henry’s Fork confluence, there are many of these, and we can help with which ones might be best with respect to access and fish activity.   With respect to boat fishing there are several launch locations and also several diversions. We can help with information on each of these.  If you are thinking of a trip here and want  information, call (208-524-7160) or email us ([email protected]). Streamer fishing is the name of the game everywhere on the main stem this time of the year.

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Main Stem Snake River, October 10th, 2020

Whether you walk-in or fish from a boat this is the time of year to encounter brown trout on the river anywhere above American Falls Reservoir.  Streamer fishing is the name of the game and there are many locations along the river to do so.  Below the reservoir the river is discolored and lower than normal for the time of year.  The reservoir has been dropped for work on the spillway ( now completed), but the fishing is good.  Fish streamers deep.

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Main Stem Snake River, September 29th, 2020

With flow reduced to normal seasonal amounts, now is the time to walk-in or boat fish the river almost anywhere from Menan to American Falls Reservoir.  It  offers a less crowded alternate to the South Fork and lower Henry’s Fork. Brown trout are starting to migrate to spawning areas, so under low light conditions streamer fishing will be the best way to encounter them. Midge and BWO hatches will provide top water fishing in some locations.  Remember that the river is big and powerful, so wade carefully and do the same if boat fishing ( know where diversions are) is your way to fish.

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