Spring has definately arrived here in Southeast Idaho. When I say that it means that we usually get a week of great weather in the 60's followed by another two weeks of unsettled weather including cold, wind, rain, and snow. With that said, the fishing has been excellent. Despite some uncomfortable weather....the fish are very active. If you have some time to get out on the water, now is the time to do it!!
Here’s a brief rundown of the fishing from what we’ve experienced as well as reports from reliable anglers including me:)
Upper Henry’s Fork
There’s still a lot of snow and access is very difficult, but the snow is melting fast. We probably have about 1.5 feet of snow here at our shop. If you can get to the water above and below Mack’s Inn you can catch fish. You will likely catch some large fish. Use leeches, beadheads, and egg patterns.
The water flow from the Island Park Dam is just less than 440 cfs. It is very similar to what it was on our last report. The river is still quite low by summer standards and easy to wade (by Box Canyon standards.) Fishing has been good with Rubberlegs, beadheads, leeches and streamers. There is still a lot of snow and access is tough. We do have snowshoes available here at our shop to rent if you want to have an easier trip to the river. Not much has really changed since Tyler Treece floated the Box a few weeks ago on a guide trip. If you didn’t see it, you can check our video of his trip.
Best dry fly fishing has been on cloudy days with midges, but now we are starting to see some Baetis. A small renegade size 20 or griffith knat size 20 have been very effective patterns. If the fish are eating Baetis, you will do very well with a size 18 olive no hackle. You can also catch fish on small nymphs, egg patterns and leeches.
Harriman Park to Riverside Campground
Closed to fish until June 15.
Middle Henry’s Fork – Riverside Campground to Warm River
Much of this water will not be accessible until the snow, but if you have some snowshoes or snowmobile the nymphing will be very good. Use the standard nymphs listed in the Box Canyon section
Warm River to Ashton
Fishing has been good with nymphs and streamers. We are however, having some great fishing in the afternoon on midges and Baetis. If you can hit the right day when it is warmer and cloudy the fish have been starting to rise very good between noon and 4p.m. The bright days don't get the bugs on the water long enough for consistent rising fish, so nymphing or streamer fishing is the better option.
Lower Henry’s Fork – Ashton Dam to St. Anthony
Remember: The river is closed to fishing from the Ashton Dam to Vernon Bridge from December 1 until the Saturday prior to Memorial Day. (May 25) The reason for this closure is to protect spawning Rainbow Trout. The main parking areas at the Vernon Bridge and Henry’s Fork Ranch have been getting a lot of pressure but fishing has been good with nymphs. Snow is finally melting down enough so that you can do some walking to get away from the crowds. It is possible to get a boat in at the Vernon Bridge and take out at the Chester Dam.
The work to put in a new boat ramp at the Fun Farm is not complete but you can still get a boat out if you put in at the Chester Dam. You can access the river from the Chester Dam road but you’ll have a steep climb down to the river. The snow is pretty much gone now, so you can most likely access the river from the chester wetlands side.
Lower Henry’s Fork – St. Anthony to Confluence
A couple weeks ago we floated below St Anthony. We caught a lot of nice browns and produced a fun filled video entitled “Down and Dirty Streamer Fishing”. Streamer fishing and nymphing is still the most effective, but if you catch the right day the fish will get on the surface and feed on midges and baetis.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
There is good access to lower Warm River near the campground. There is a snow machine parking area near the campground. Warm River is a good option with nymphs and streamers. You will have a good chance to be the only angler on the water here, so that can be very nice
Fall river is another great option for fishing in the Spring. Here in another month this will not be an option because of run off, but you can have some fun catching a lot of little cookie cutter rainbow's with a chance for some really nice 18+ inch trout. Your best choice is nymphing.
The stretch from Hebgen Dam to Quake Lake is open on a year round basis. Fishing has been good with nymphs and streamers. Look for improvement with milder weather. This section between the lakes can be very good in March and April. Remember, you’ll need a Montana fishing license to fish the Madison
All of the lakes are frozen. Henry’s Lake is now closed to all fishing until the Saturday prior to Memorial Day. Island Park Reservoir and Hebgen Lake are open year round and are popular for ice fishing. I don’t know much about ice fishing since I’ve never done it and have no intention of trying.
South Fork of the Snake
The worst thing about late March and April is there are so many great places to fish and so little time. It’s hard to drive an hour from the Henry’s Fork when the fishing is so good here. Yet the South Fork is a completely different experience. Anglers who visit in the summer would never believe it is the same river. Typical stream flow in the summer months is about 10,000 cfs. It is currently less than 1000 cfs allowing anglers to wade places they could never go in the summer. Another attraction of the South Fork is that if you want to catch a trout to eat, you can legally kill some rainbows. In fact, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering a cash incentive of $50 - $1000 for rainbows. Tags are invisible but you can turn the head in at the regional office in Idaho Falls to see if your rainbow is worth cash. I like to eat fish but I’ve never been very fond of trout. Yet, a nice rainbow caught from cold water in the spring can be delicious.
Yellowstone National Park
Closed to fishing. Will open on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.