We at Henry’s Fork Anglers typically have our busy season between May and October of each year. During these months a lot of things happen. I guess it would be similar to a farmer making things count while the sun is shining. After October I try to look back over the year and all I can see is debris from what seems like a large black tornado moving quickly away. It always amazes me how quickly the year goes. 2015 was no exception to this. In fact I would categorize this years’ tornado as an EF5.
This EF5 storm really was a good thing! We were very busy, and business proved to be good or should I say great! In fact, we ran a record number of guided fishing trips this year. With more people on guide trips, our retail business also saw a very large upward spike. I think most of the businesses in and around Yellowstone saw a similar result. I know that Yellowstone National Park saw a record number of visitors this year at almost 4 million. It is refreshing to look at these numbers, because it shows that the economy is a little better. With a better economy, more and more people are getting out on vacation and having fun especially during the summer months.
We were also very fortunate to have some great fishing this year. In 2014 we were able to purchase a license to guide on the Teton River. We didn’t get that permit finalized until late in 2014, so this year we were able to really capitalize on the Teton. I think most of our guides noticed what a gem the Teton River really is, and what it can offer our clientele. We saw some absolute monster trout caught on the Teton. What is really appealing is how well the Teton fishes during the late summer months when the fishing can be difficult on other rivers. As part of promoting the Teton River, we offered a hard to beat package rate with Elk Creek Ranch. This package included 5 nights lodging at Elk Creek Ranch and 4 days fishing with Henry’s Fork Anglers. This allowed for the possibility of fishing 4 different rivers in 4 days. The rivers fished on this package were the Henry’s Fork, South Fork, Madison, and Teton. We saw some extremely happy clients that were able to take advantage of a very diverse fishery. We are running this same promotion for 2016. The cost is $1695 per person and is valid from July 15 - September 15, 2016.
Our other rivers fished very well also. We saw very good hatches on the Henry’s Fork. The Harriman State Park saw very good drake hatches in both green and brown. The PMD and caddis dominated the summer on the Henry’s Fork. It is amazing how beautiful and healthy the trout were this year on the Henry’s Fork. I know the South Fork had some amazing stonefly hatches. With a legal limit of 4 boats per section, we had to break up a few fights with our guides competing for the various sections on the South Fork, because it was off the charts in July and August! We had some great lake fishing as well. We saw some very large hybrids caught on Henry’s Lake. The gulpers were gulping to a gorge on Hebgen Lake. Because of the demand for water, the Island Park Reservoir was drawn way down. This congregated the fish near the tributaries and we saw excellent fishing there in late August. The Madison River was a bit tougher later in the summer. Low water and high water temperatures caused some difficult fishing, but the early season was fantastic with caddis, stoneflies, and PMD’s. We also had some customers that really had fantastic luck on the Madison in the late fall and winter months until it closed the end of February.
It is very obvious that we have moved into a very moderate to serious drought and even though the water situation was a little tight later in the summer, we were very fortunate to have enough water supply to get us through the season. We saw some critically low flows hit the lower Henry’s Fork in late August and September, so things got a bit scary for a few weeks. I don’t know what we would do without the Henry’s Fork Foundation. They have been able to work with both the fisheries and agriculture leaders to find a good balance to satisfy the demand for water in both areas. Looking forward, it is projected to be a strong El Nino winter. For our area that typically means a mild and dry winter. I think it would be very safe to say that we should all pray for a huge winter. Otherwise our water conditions could be in trouble for 2016. Until 2016 we will keep our fingers crossed.
Looking back over the 2015 season, I reflect on how great our resource is and how important it is that we do all we can to protect it. We are so blessed to have such a great resource to satisfy so many people. This doesn’t include just the fishing. We have a beautiful forest with great opportunity for camping, hunting, hiking, ATV and horseback riding. We have all bounds of wildlife, beautiful scenery, peace and solitude in our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I know a lot of our customers work long and hard all year long just to be able to spend a few days in this great area. May we all do what we can to protect this wonderful resource, so we can enjoy it forever!