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Winter Came Early

Nov 5, 2012 | Mike Lawson

Two of our former fishing guides, AJ Campbell and Tim Stamm, always come back to fish late in the season. Both guided for us in the early 1980's. AJ is now a surgeon in Columbus, OH and Tim is a perfusionist in St. Louis, MO. They always fish hard from dusk until dawn for at least a week. I usually manage to fish with them for a couple of days. I can’t keep up with them for more than that.

This year they showed up the last week of October. Like me, they like October because it always produces some of the best fishing of the year. They started out in Yellowstone Park fishing the Madison for the first two days. They caught lots of nice browns and rainbows and the weather was pretty good. By the time they settled in to fish the Henry’s Fork the weather really turned foul.

I wasn’t ready for the early winter and didn’t have my snow removal equipment ready. I planned to fish with them two days but we spent the first half of the day trying to plow out my 450 foot driveway. The snow was so heavy it broke the shear pin on my rotary plow so we put the blade on the 4-wheeler. After we cleared the snow we headed down the river below St Anthony.

A J Campbell releasing a nice brown

We expected some good hatches of BWO's and midges, but it never happened. Instead, we split up and waded down the various channels. Campbell and Stamm each went with nymphs while I rigged up a sink-tip with a streamer. Everywhere there should have been a trout...there were trout. Most of them were smaller browns mixed with a few rainbows. I caught less fish but managed a couple of browns over 20 inches on my streamer.

The next day it stopped snowing. Bob Lamm, head HFA guide, joined up with us to make it a foursome. We shared a lot of memories when all four of us guided together when we were young. We decided to go upriver and fish below the Chester Dam. We couldn’t find any dry fly action but caught some nice browns and a couple of chunky rainbows. We grabbed a burger and decided to go check out Warm River.

Lamm and Campbell fished streamers on the lower water above the highway bridge. I think they hoped a few of those giant trout that live below the bridge in the closed water had moved up. They caught a couple of very respectable fish but not the ones that grow big and fat while feeding on handfuls of fish pellets tossed to them by tourists throughout the season.

Tim and I focused on the water in the upper part of the campground. There were a lot of smaller trout rising to midges but we used a dry / dropper nymph rig to try to find some larger trout. The best fish was a brown that Tim landed in the 20” class. The highlight of the day was a brown that was holding just to the upstream side of the campground bridge. Lamm dapped his streamer down in front of the fish and the brown gobbled it down. He had a pretty good fight to try to keep the fish from running under the bridge.

The weather continued to improve later in the week and AJ and Tim hooked up with my brother Rick for a couple more days of frantic fishing. One thing I always enjoy when they come back is how much they love the fishing in our area. It seems we take it for granted, no matter how hard we try to stay focused. Most people shy away from the late season because they fear they might get snowed on. Yet, no matter what the weather is like the fishing is always hot in October and they usually aren’t many people around.

Bob Lamm, Tim Stamm, and AJ Campbell