The cottonwoods are golden as I look out across my pasture at the Henry’s Fork above St. Anthony. Most of the leaves have already fallen up the Ashton Hill at Island Park. The coming weeks offer some of the finest fishing of the season. Brook trout and browns are moving into their annual spawning while the rainbows and cutthroats are packing on as much food as they can before the cold winter is upon us. It’s almost impossible to find any water in all of Henry’s Fork Country that won’t offer excellent fishing options. The only requirement is the time to take advantage of the bounty.
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! 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
This fishery is my favorite on the Henry's Fork at this time of year. The scenery is beautiful and can produce some very large fish. You can catch a lot of fish during the midafternoon on little BWOs. My favorite way to fish this water is with a streamer. If streamers are not your thing, you can throw a double nymph rig until you see fish rising. 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.
Henry’s Lake is on. Best fishing has been in the mid-morning to late afternoon. Use a slow sinking or intermediate line with small leeches or wooly buggers. You can also use a high floating dry fly with a small nymph dropper. 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.
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.