One of the most common questions during the last few weeks has been, “When will the stream flows go back down to normal?” Less than a week ago the flow through the Box Canyon peaked at almost 2000 (cfs) cubic feet per second and the Madison River below Hebgen Dam flowed at 1250 cfs. These flows were considerably above normal for this time of year for different reasons. Thankfully, both rivers are flowing at normal flows as of this writing. Later in September, after the peak of the irrigation season we’ll be facing a different problem with flows far below normal. All of this is the result of our prolonged warm drought conditions. Let’s all pray for snow this winter.
Upper Henry’s Fork
There have been a few nice trout caught in the Henry’s Fork at Coffee Pot Rapids and upstream. The reservoir below Coffee Pot at McCrea Bridge has dropped significantly and will continue to do so. Look for the upper river to improve later in August and September.
The current flow at the Island Park Dam is near normal for this date at 1370 cfs. Fishing has been very good for 7 – 12 inch Rainbows with bead head nymphs. Larger trout have been moving to streamers during the early morning and evening hours. The most productive nymphs have been olive, red or brown Zebra Nymphs, Flashback Pheasant Tails and 2-bit Hookers. Hopper / dropper rigs have also been producing some nice trout in the lower Box above the boat ramp.
Last Chance / Harriman Park
The best game is in the morning hours between 8 and 11 AM. There have been decent spinner falls with PMD, Flav and Callibaetis Spinners. Size 18 Tan Caddisflies have also been on the water in the morning hours. Later on try hoppers, beetles and ant patterns. We haven’t had reports of good Honey Ant activity yet but it should start any time.
Wood Road #16 – Pinehaven
This water is similar to the Ranch. Use the same recommended patterns. You can also expect good hatches of Pale Morning Duns in the afternoon hours. These aquatic insects emerge all along the east bank of the river where cool springs enter the river. Trout hold in these areas. They are the most selective trout on earth. You’ll need exact imitation emergers, cripples and duns along with a perfect presentation to fool these fish.
The canyon water from Riverside Campground downstream to the confluence with Warm River essentially gets very little attention during mid-summer. The water is very similar to Box Canyon. Use the same patterns and techniques we recommend for Box Canyon. Now that the flows are high the fishing likely isn’t worth the effort unless your main objective is to get away from everybody. If you want to hike down into the canyon you likely won’t have any company.
Warm River to Ashton
As always, the section of the Stone Bridge downstream to the Fremont County Boat Ramp downstream from the Highway 20 Bridge has produced reliable action. Most of these trout have been caught with bead head nymphs, black or brown Rubberlegs or hoppers with a bead had nymph dropper. Streamers have been producing large brown trout in the morning and late evening hours.
Ashton Dam to St Anthony
The river below Ashton and St Anthony always takes a hiatus during the middle part of the summer. Some anglers get pretty frustrated with this as there are lots of quality fish in this section. We feel it is beneficial in the long run. The water temperature ramps up, the river becomes choked with aquatic vegetation, the bugs quit coming off and the trout stop rising. In another week or so some of the backwaters will be productive with Tricos.
St Anthony to Confluence
Low water, warm water temperatures, lots of floating vegetation, tough fishing.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
As always, Warm River and the Buffalo provide great fishing for small trout throughout the heat of the summer. Both streams are spring creeks that remain cool enough to keep trout active. The water flow on the lower Fall River is dangerously low. The flow is good in the Upper Fall River. If you haven’t fish Fall River you’ve missed a treat. It is one of the hidden gems in the Henry’s Fork region. Use tungsten bead nymphs dropped about 2 feet below an attractor dry fly.
The Madison has been productive in the section from Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake. Dry fly fishing has been good with spruce fly imitations, caddis and hopper patterns. The wade area from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge has also been good. The water temperature has been holding at 66°F which helps keep trout active. If you can’t get fish to come to the surface try a double nymph rig with a size 10 Black Rubberlegs and a #16 Olive Tungsten Zebra Nymph below. Hopper fishing has also been picking up.
Warm weather has started to concentrate fish near the mouths of some of the springs and creeks. Targhee Creek has seen the most activity. Anglers have also been catching trout near Hope Creek near the cliffs, Staley Springs and in some of the deeper springs like the Blue Roof Hole out in the lake. Best patterns have been scuds, Mitey Mite, and Crystal Buggers.
Fly fishing at Island Park has been spotty but things are starting to pick up on the north side of the lake near Trude Bay and Grizzly Springs. Look for this fishing to improve as the reservoir level drops to meet downstream irrigation demand.
Gulper fishing has been productive on Hebgen Lake. Best action is during calm mornings when large trout cruise the surface feeding on Callibaetis mayflies. It is possible to catch trout from shore on the north side of the lake but in most cases you’ll need a float tube, pontoon boat or boat. Best action is to us a dry fly that is easy to see like a Parachute Adams with a size 16 Sawyer PT Nymph as a dropper about 8 inches below the fly.
South Fork of the Snake
Flows on the South Fork have dropped significantly. Early morning fishing has been very productive with size 10 Golden Stonefly patterns. This fishing slows after the sun gets high. Fishing the banks has been spotty with hoppers, golden stones, and Chernobyl Ants. The riffle fishing has been relatively tough. PMDs and other mayflies don’t come off well in hot, dry weather.
Yellowstone National Park
The water temperature is too warm on the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon Rivers. The trout numbers are thin on the Yellowstone River but the quality is high. There are some real big cutthroats that easily top 20 inches. Other good options in the park are the Lamar River, Slough Creek, and the upper reaches of the Gardiner River. You should also consider a trip to the Cave Falls area on Fall River. This water is loaded with small rainbows that are always eager to take your fly.