I spent the weekend exploring the Lower Henry’s Fork from Ashton Dam to St. Anthony. As I have been told from Mike Lawson and the guides that this is the best time of year to be on the lower section of the river. The weather was perfect for the weekend as we have had an Indian summer here in Island Park with temperature reaching into the 70’s yesterday. I started out on Saturday driving down to St. Anthony to locate a couple of boat launches that the guides have been using over the past week. Cemetery and Parker. This section of the lower Henry’s Fork is beautiful in the fall. I was on the water by 9:30am and stripped a few streamers through the shelves and deep runs. I was able to land a couple nice browns with a few chasers as well. After a morning of jumping around on the Henry’s Fork below St. Anthony I decided to head up to Ashton Dam and the Ora Bridge area to see what I could find. The streamer bite was slow due to it being midday with bright and sunny conditions, so I switched to nymphing with an indicator dropping a small black rubberlegs size 12 with a red two bit hooker in size 18 below, this combo produced a few more fish for the afternoon. I stopped fishing around 2pm to take in the scenery and eat lunch, while eating lunch I texted Mike to see if I could fish his place just above St. Anthony for the evening, he said “sure thing!” So on my way back down to St. Anthony I took every backroad I could find that was close to the river to really learn the lower section of the river. I’m looking forward to floating this section more during the late fall. The evening fishing was good with Bwo’s coming off as I got to the river’s edge. I switched my nymph rig for a CDC comparadun BWO and a BWO loop wing emerger, first cast and fish on! A small 14” brown trout took the CDC comparadum with vigor. Caught a couple more on dries until the sun started to set, so I switched back to rust colored Slumpbuster and started swinging the streamer through the deeper runs and holes. The picture above is the reward for the effort just before dark. This was the smaller of the two large brown trout that decided to eat streamers just before dark.
The weather for the coming week has some changes in store for us. According to NOAA we are supposed to have weather coming in on Tuesday through Wednesday evening, with a chance of snow Wednesday morning. Tuesday looks like the worst of the weather for the week as we get back to mild fall temps and sun for the rest of the week. We couldn’t ask for better weather or fishing right now!
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 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. Small terrestrials including beetles and ants will also work with some of the most persnickety trout.
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. You may see a few fish rising to Baetis during the middle of the day on the lower section so you may want to have a couple of dry flies in your box just in case.
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. Be sure to watch out for the fish on redds in this section and try to make sure they are not disturbed if at all possible.
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. Be sure to watch out for the fish on redds in this section and try to make sure they are not disturbed if at all possible.
St Anthony to Confluence
As with Mike’s fishing report last week. I have to agree with him! The streamer fishing was great using rust colored Slumpbuster, Autumn Splendor’s, CH Minnows and Olive Makutas. Swinging streamers through deep pockets and at the end of riffles was the most productive for me. From midday till dusk dry fly action was productive on CDC comparadum BWO’s, Loop Wing emergers, Batwing’s and BWO flashback emerger. 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. Be sure to watch out for fish on redds in this section and try to make sure they are not disturbed if at all possible.
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. Lower Fall River was quite low throughout the summer but that has changed. 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 always gets good 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 pre spawn browns. Bright colored streamers Sculpzilla’s in yellow and white. As well as CH minnow’s and Double Bunnies in Olive and white. As well as the Rubberbugger in black.
Henry’s Lake is on! Best fishing has been in the mid-morning to late afternoon. 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. I was just up on Henry’s on Sunday and the weather and fishing was great. Also had good reports from the people in boats, that the fishing was just as 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 on the South Fork is normal for this time of year and the flow has been steady. This keeps everything on track for terrific fishing opportunities. 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 fished the Lower section towards Rexburg with streamers on a bright sunny day with temps in the 70’s. They each caught a few fish on small streamer patterns such as Mike’s Woolhead Sculpin, Hale Bop leaches and Copper Zonkers. As we all think about streamers this time of year, we need to get a few more overcast days to turn the streamer bite on. This week looks like we are going to get a few of those grey days to really chase big fish with streamers.
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. 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 and streamers.