South Fork & Henry's Fork Fishing Reports

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South Fork

Jimmy's All Seasons Angler / South Fork (Page 16)

South Fork 4-1-18

Yesterday flow out of Palisades Dam was increased to 18000 cfs.  That flow makes for difficult near-term fishing. Over the last month the Palisades Dam flow graph looks like a step function, and for good reason. There is more than normal snow pack in the upper Snake River drainage.  Thus the Bureau of Reclamation placed a public announcement on April 3rd giving their Snake River water management strategy. Here is an excerpt from it that impacts the South Fork reach and the main stem Snake River to just below American Falls Dam.   Note Reclamation’s  estimate of 114% of the recent decade average.  That’s the basis for their management strategy.

Reclamation’s April through July volume runoff forecast for Heise is 3700 KAF, which is 114% of the 1981-2010 average.  To begin advancing on updated flood control targets for Jackson Lake Dam and Palisades Dam the following changes have or will be made this week. 

·       Jackson Lake Dam discharge will be increased Thursday (4/5) at 10 am from the current 630 cfs up to between 1,000 cfs and 1,500 cfs.

·       Palisades Dam discharge will be increased Thursday (4/5) evening into Friday (4/6) morning to go from the current 10,000 cfs up to between 14,500 cfs and 16,000 cfs by Friday morning.

·       American Falls Dam discharges were increased today from 11,000 cfs to 13,000 cfs.  Another increase will occur Wednesday (4/4) morning at 10 am to go from 13,000 cfs to 15,000 cfs.

The intent with respect to Palisades Reservoir is to decrease its capacity to around 50% ( Currently at about 70%) in order to contain expected run off.  More increases in flow out of these three dams are possible, with weather being a factor in determining flow management. For additional information and resources, please visit Reclamation’s website at: .


South Fork 11-28-17

At Heise Br. (640x480)

Palisades Reservoir seems to be filling. Volume of water there was 95% capacity a few days ago, now it is 97% capacity. Look for flows into the South Fork to remain about where they are now ( about 4200 cfs) with future increases out of Palisades Reservoir possible.  Although walk-in-wade fishing will be a bit tougher than in past winters, fish will be the big winners of these flows if they last through the winter.  Whether or not we have high water conditions during spring and summer of 2018 depends on snowfall amounts this coming winter.  Until springtime midge hatches will provide top water fishing, while presenting streamer patterns and nymph patterns ranging from small bead heads to larger rubber leg types will result in the best techniques for sub-surface fishing.


South Fork 11-21-17

Rolly at Dam_Small

Flow out of Palisades Dam was raised to 3130 cfs last Thursday ( upping flow at Heise to almost 3600 cfs).  With Palisades Reservoir about 95% full and at least normal snowfall expected this winter in the Snake River drainage, look for flows below Palisades Dam to be higher this winter than in recent years. A forecast for mild weather for this week should result in good BWO activity. Midge activity remains consistently good, and presenting streamer patterns under low light conditions is a sure way to find action from migrating browns and the rainbows following them this time of year.


South Fork and Main

As Flows on the south fork drop to around 2,500 cfs out of Palisades dam, we are starting to see what the wade options are going to look like during the first part of the fall and winter months. Talk is that the river flows will be re-evaluated after the 1st of December, in which case will most likely be increased. This can mean some good news for the boat fisherman, as float will take less time to complete, and you will be able to cover more water. For the wade fisherman these changes will have more effect than in winters past where we are use to seeing the flow around 1,200.

As for the current conditions, the South Fork streamer fishing has been pretty good on cloudy days, and even on some random sunny days as well.. Color is the name of the game her, so bring your sparkle, white, yellow, tans, and olives. Some days the darker colors really do well, but overall this river seems to respond best to brighter, and flashier patterns.

Dry fly fishing is good, but as per usual, the cloudy days reign supreme. Fish size 18-20 BWO patterns, and 18-20 midge  patterns. Back eddies are a great option for finding fish feeding on the surface.

Try fishing nymphs from the boat set at 5-6 feet for floating. I generally run much deeper when standing on a riffle, and in most cases would recommend the same. Use a small rubberlegs, a san juan work, or a big caddis pattern, trailed by a small beadhead mayfly nymph in the size 14-18 range. If in doubt, a red Zebra midge will usually get the job done as a trailer fly.

As for fishing on the main (Idaho Falls to American Falls), the streamer is the main game here, as browns are in their pre spawn, and are on the streamer bite pretty well. Patterns I usually do best on are Tan or natural peanut envys, and sex dungeons, but like anywhere changing pattern and color can sometimes make the difference.

American Falls is running at 2,100 cfs, and the wade fishing is much tougher than usual. The water had changed colors the last time I was there a couple days ago, leaving the visibility at roughly 2′ tops. I would recommend that anybody planning on wading there to bring a wading staff so they can poke around before they step. Flies that are fishing well is pretty much any beadhead nymph in a size 12-18, and dead drifted streamer patterns. If your into dry fly fishing, you can fish blue winged olives and find success.



South Fork 10-24-17

03-12-09 South Fork 010

Flow out of Palisades Reservoir has been nearly constant for most of the month, that is between 3500 and 4000 cfs.  Constant flow is a main reason for continued good fishing. An example is that riffle fishing this fall has been at its best for the entire season. Great BWO activity with some from mahogany duns with resulting great responses from the trout population in riffles has been the norm for several weeks. As we move into November streamer fishing will move from currently good to excellent.  However, look for further reductions in flow out of the reservoir in the upcoming weeks as water storage for next year’s irrigation continues.


South Fork 10-16-17

03-12-09 South Fork 010

Not much has changed since our last report. Flow out of Palisades Dam remains nearly constant.  BWOs and mahogany duns continue to provide good riffle fishing, and their life cycle patterns are the best producers. Streamer fishing during low light conditions is very good.  There are many locations along the river for good walk-in wade fishing.  Get in touch with us because we can help you find some of the best.  It looks like the next several days will feature the fine autumn weather we have been missing for much of the season and back country roads will be in good shape. So get out and enjoy what the South Fork has to offer before real winter sets in.


South Fork 10-14-17




Last night’s storm dumped 5-6 inches of wet, heavy snow in the Idaho Falls and surrounding area. This certainly will not hurt fishing, but getting there in some places could be a problem for two-wheel drive vehicles. Roads such as the South Fork road above Heise and the river road above the Swan Valley Bridge will lose snow cover quickly as sunshine and warmer temperatures return later today, but these roads could be muddy in places.  Boat launch locations should be OK to use. Flow out of Palisades Dam was reduced to about 3700 cfs last Monday (10/9) making the river even more attractive for walk-in wading, especially now when BWO and mahogany dun activity centered around riffles has been so good. Streamer fishing is picking up all along the river, and visits are slowing down. All this makes the present a good time for a visit as long as roads are passable.  We at the shop watch South Fork fishing conditions closely. Thus we can help you select a location for a visit as well as suggest a fishing strategy at any time.


South Fork 10-10-17

Just above Heise Br. (640x480)

Flow out of Palisades Dam was dropped 500 cfs to about 3600 cfs yesterday. Flow at Heise is about 800 cfs higher, but considerably lower (about 2100 cfs) at Lorenzo because of water being diverted into the Dry Bed and other canals. If you prefer dry fly fishing, prospecting riffles for BWOs and mahogany duns brings the best results.  Use life cycle patterns.  If you prefer to present wet flies, streamer patterns will bring most interest from larger fish. With a week of variable weather coming up there will be plenty of time for success either way.


South Fork 9-30-17

Just above Heise Br. (640x480)

Flow out of Palisades Dam has been constant ( around 4100 cfs increasing to about 5000 cfs at Heise) for several days, and weather is as good as it gets for BWO activity. The results are continued good riffle fishing with a great selection of such to explore from Palisades Dam to the Henry’s Fork confluence. Unsettled weather also means good streamer fishing almost anywhere along the river. For now stick to somber colors (olives, brown/rust, black) for those streamers.