Well I had to leave the great state of Idaho for a few days this week and I’m itching to get back to continue enjoying the great fishing we are having this fall. I got out for a few evenings this week after closing the shop and headed down to the lower section of the Henry’s Fork. This still seems to be the section of choice on the Henry’s Fork this week as the guides continue to head that direction with their clients. I agree! The streamer fishing just before dark has been good. Small BWO dry flies have been the go to for midday to dusk on the lower section of the Henry’s Fork. As we continue into the colder months of winter we will start to focus on midges. Some of my favorite fishing is during the winter and I am looking towards floating in the winter. Coming from Colorado where the rivers become too dangerous to float due to gradient and ice, whereas Idaho offers choices on what type of fishing you can to do during the winter.
The weather for the coming week looks like it is going to cool off with some clouds. With the colder weather you will want to bring layers with you. A good base layer of Capilene or silk with a mid-layer of fleece works well under your waders. Same goes for your feet. A thin liner sock with a good quality wool sock will keep your feet warm and not be too warm to make your feet sweat. Protection from the elements is also very important with outerwear. A good pair of waders and a good quality wading jacket are a necessity for keeping you dry and protected. Give the shop a call to go over your cool weather gear before you come visit us so you can fish in comfort when cool weather sets in.
Upper Henry’s Fork
Henry’s Lake Outlet is low but fishable. Walking in from the Nature Conservancy Flat Ranch access should be productive. This stream picks up quite a bit of water from springs and tributaries before it joins the Henry’s Fork below Big Springs and can produce some quality trout at this time of year. Kokanee move all the way up from the Island Park Reservoir bringing big rainbows with them. Below the confluence with the Henry’s Lake Outlet the Henry’s Fork has been fishing very well with streamers and nymphs. Blue Winged Olives and midges have also been coming off later in the day creating some good dry fly options. Don’t neglect the water further down at Lower Coffee Pot Rapids.
The current flow from Island Park Dam has been a steady 200 cfs, too low to float but great for wade fishing. Smaller nymphs are very productive when the water is low like this. We recommend size 18 Zebra Nymphs, Flashback Pheasant Tail TB, Cocktail, Two Bit Hooker, and Skinny Nelson. Streamers and buggers are also very productive.
Many anglers think of autumn as the time to catch large trout on streamers without considering how good dry fly fishing can be. Trout have been feeding on BWOs and midges from Last Chance down through the Ranch to Pinehaven. This water can also produce some very good dry fly fishing with midges, especially during cloudy, cool weather.
With lower stream flows the fast water of the canyon becomes a little more user friendly. Use the same patterns described for the Box Canyon. There is good wading access at Riverside Campground and Hatchery Ford (FS #351.) If you are a little more adventuresome you can hike down into the canyon from some of the trails including Sheep Falls (FS #163) and Wood Road #6 (FS #151). Double nymphing and streamer fishing is very productive in this section.
Warm River to Ashton
The section from the Stone Bridge below Warm River downstream to the county boat dock below Highway 20 fished great for us this summer and can still produce some good fishing this time of year. There are plenty of cookie-cutter 10 inch rainbows as well as larger rainbows and browns. There is good wading access in the upper and lower stretch. With the Brown Trout spawning or preparing to spawn, streamer fishing is a very good choice to get a big fish here. Cloudy days are very good, and the fishing is best in the early to midafternoon.
Ashton Dam to St Anthony
The dry fly fishing has been very good in the midafternoons with BWOs (Baetis) in this section. It is a good bet to stick with nymphs and streamers; until you see the BWOs start to pop later on. The browns are very aggressive, so streamer fishing has been very good as well! See below for streamer patterns recommended. Our guide clients have reported some great fish using a dry/dropper set up. Use a high floating dry fly like a Chubby Chernobyl with a bead head dropper. Our favorite bead head patterns for this time of year are Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Nymph, and Tungsten Pheasant Tail. Drop the nymph 2 – 3 feet below the dry. Surprisingly trout have still been hitting the dry fly on occasion.
St Anthony to Confluence
The streamer fishing continues to be good using rust or olive Slumpbuster, Autumn Splendor, CH Minnow, Sculpzilla and Olive Makuta. Swinging streamers through deep pockets and at the end of riffles was the most productive for me. Another option is to use a dry/dropper with a Chubby Chernobyl dry and a tungsten pheastant tail, Two Bit Hooker, or Zebra Nymph. If you haven’t fished this section of river before I highly recommend it! Give the shop a call to set up a trip with one of our guides to show you the water and what flies to use.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
As always, Warm River and the Buffalo provide great fishing for small trout throughout the fall months. Both streams are spring creeks that remain cool enough to keep trout active. It isn’t unusual to find large trout in Warm River this time of year as it is a major spawning stream for the Lower Henry’s Fork. Fall River is an excellent choice for quality fishing with light angling pressure. Most of the water in the lower river flows through private land. Make sure you have permission if you plan to cross private land to get to the river.
The Madison has still been getting hatches of Blue Winged Olive mayflies. Look for feeding fish in the slicks. Until the mayflies get going your best bet is to use small nymphs like Zebra, Pheasant Tail and Two Bit Hooker. Streamers have also been very productive for larger browns and rainbows. Some of our favorites have been bright colored streamers such as Sculpzillain yellow and white, CH minnow and Mike's Matuka in olive or tan, and Black Rubberbugger.
Henry’s Lake has been productive near the state park and the hatchery. Use a bead head leach with a pheasant tail nymph just ahead of it. Slow retrieves is the name of the game for the cutthroat that have come into the shallows to feed on leaches, minnows and small nymphs. When the weather is good the fishing is good. The same techniques work on the other area lakes. Island Park Reservoir is getting low and the trout are starting to concentrate near the springs.
South Fork of the Snake
The stream flow from Palisades Dam has been dropping steadily over the past week. The current flow provides better access for wade fishing.. There have been good hatches of Baetis in the riffles! Streamer fishing is very good as well as nymphing. I like to use the Olive Matuka, and nothing can really beat the BLING! For nymphs, use small rubberlegs size 10-12, and small pheasant tails size 18-20.
Best chance for dry flies is the upper basin by Driggs, ID. There are a few Green drakes still around as well as baetis. The canyon section is mainly streamers with big dark streamers fished with a streamer sink tip line. Mike’s Woolhead Sculpin, Hale Bop leaches and Copper Zonkers are great patterns for that stretch of the Teton. With the cloud cover and short storm we had last week, look for the streamer bite to continue for another week or so.
Yellowstone National Park
The park will be closed for the season on Sunday November 2rd. If you are planning on fishing in the park before it closes the fishing on the upper Madison has been very productive. The Fire hole has been productive with pheasant tail and orange soft hackles. There has been a good number of anglers fishing the park since it re-opened so just be aware that you will run into other fisherman. There have been some fish eating Baetis on top but the most action has been found with nymphs, soft hackles and streamers.