Fishing conditions have changed with the advent of above normal temperatures and changes in stream flows. We’ll miss the big aquatic insects like Salmonflies and Green Drakes. Stream flows are higher than normal below the Island Park Dam and lower than normal on the lower Henry’s Fork near St. Anthony and the Madison below Hebgen Lake. The outflow from Palisades Dam on the South Fork is near normal and stable. It has been a great early season and we anticipate the transition into midsummer will continue to produce great fishing.
Upper Henry’s Fork
The outflow from Henry’s Lake Dam is above normal. Henry’s Lake Outlet has been producing good fishing in the early morning and evening hours. There have also been some good hatches of Pale Morning Duns and Caddis on the upper river below Mack’s Inn. This is good water to take less experienced anglers. You can usually catch fish with Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Renegade and other standard patterns.
As of this writing the outflow from Island Park is 1400 cfs. That’s a pretty good push making wading difficult. As long as the flow is stable fishing is good. Higher flows mean more stable water temperatures which really helps the fishing during the heat of the summer. There are still a few Golden Stones flying around if you’re a dry fly addict but your best odds are to use a double nymph rig. We like Red or Brown Zebra Nymphs, Tungsten Flashback Pheasant Tails and Black or Brown Rubberlegs. If you’re ambitious you can float the Box early in the morning or late evenings and work streamers. Large trout are comfortable holding near bank structure with these high flows.
There have been good fish feeding on the surface from the mouth of Box Canyon downstream to the log jam at Last Chance. Use spinner patterns in the morning hours. There has been a hodgepodge of spinners including Green Drakes, Flavs, and PMDs. There are also spinners in the evenings along with some decent caddis hatches. Look for Pale Morning Duns later in the morning and Flavs in the late afternoons, especially when the sky is dark.
The Ranch has simply been amazing since opening day on June 15th. It has gotten a little tougher in recent days, mostly due to changes in water flow and aquatic insect activity. You’re likely to see the same mayfly spinners described in the Last Chance section. My experience has been that the trout will target larger size 14 Flav spinners when they are available. This means you will need size 14 Rusty Spinners. There are several good spinner patterns available. My favorite is the Hi-Vis Rusty Spinner. It has an orange post on top between the wings. I don’t need (yet) such a large orange post so I clip it down so the fly will ride down in the surface film. Most commercial spinners have too much material in the wing. Don’t be afraid to trim the wings down if you’re getting refusals. All you need is the impression of the wing. When Flav duns emerge in the afternoon you should use a size 14 or 16 Slate Olive Nohackle, Sparkle Dun or Thorax Dun. Some trout really key on cripples and emergers so you should be prepared.
Wood Road #16 – Pinehaven
You should use the same stuff described above for the Ranch. Pale Morning Duns are prolific in the warm afternoon hours. They like the colder water that emerges from many springs which flow into the Henry’s Fork on the east side of the river. Trout concentrate in these areas. They can be ultra selective making a realistic emerger or cripple pattern a must. We like the PMD Half Back Emerger, Harrop Last Chance Cripple, or PMD Cripple.
This area is very tough to access and wade when the water is high during mid-summer. If you want to get away from the crowds you should use the same patterns and methods described for Box Canyon.
Warm River to Ashton
The section from the Stone Bridge access below the confluence of Warm River downstream to the County Boat Dock at the Ashton Reservoir has been very productive. This is a great section to float and consequently there are a lot of recreational floaters drifting down the river in everything from inner tubes, rafts, and the like. Normally they don’t hinder the fishing crowd but you still need to keep your eye out if you hear a bunch of screaming teenagers upstream to avoid getting run over. Use the same techniques and patterns described for Box Canyon.
Ashton Dam to St Anthony
Things have started to change in this section of the river. There have been some very large trout caught on Golden Stone patterns but this hatch is definitely starting to wind down. Green Drakes have petered out but their smaller Flav cousins have been showing up on cloudy afternoons. There have been some strong caddis hatches during the evening hours. You can get some jolting strikes from large trout on streamers fished near the banks in the early morning hours. There are at least 6 irrigation diversions between the Ashton Dam and St. Anthony that significantly reduces the flows. Your best bet in the lower water near St Anthony is to try to hit the river early in the morning before the water temperature starts to heat up.
St Anthony to Confluence
Fishing has really dropped off in this section of the river but you can still get good fish if you get out early in the morning.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
There is good access to lower Warm River near the campground. Warm River is a good option with attractor dry flies, and nymphs. Warm River is stocked with catchable trout near the Warm River Campground and is a good option for young anglers.
Fall River has fished very well in the upper reaches from Cave Falls downstream to the national forest boundary. The best action has been with a dry/dropper rig. Use a large attractor like a Royal Trude, Stimulator, or Chubby Chernobyl for the dry fly with a bead head Prince Nymph or Tungsten Pheasant Tail Nymph as a dropper.
The Madison has been fishing very well. The Salmonfly hatch has moved all the way up to Quake Lake but the fish will still eat a well presented Salmonfly or Golden Stonefly pattern. There have been good caddis hatches in the morning and evening hours. There are several species of caddis ranging from as large as a size 14 down to tiny size 20 micro caddis. The upper section below Quake Lake has also been producing some good Pale Morning Dun and Flav mayfly action. The river is low making wading a little easier but the fish spookier.
We’ve had great reports from Henry’s Lake. Best action has been to use a small wooly bugger, leech or Chironomid pattern with an indicator. Most of the fish are 16 inch Cutthroats but there have also been some nice Brook Trout and Hybrids landed. Things are also starting to happen on Island Park Reservoir. There will be a short window on the reservoir as it is expected to be drawn down to only 10,000 acre feet by the end of the season. Gulper fishing has also started to roll on Hebgen Lake. Normally mid-July through August are the best months to fish the great lakes of our area.
South Fork of the Snake
WOW is the best way to describe the fishing on the South Fork. Normally the Salmonfly hatch is only fishable about one out of five years due to high water. This year has been the year. Salmonflies and Golden Stoneflies have produced exceptional fishing. These big stoneflies have moved up the river to the Swan Valley Bridge. There have also been heavy hatches of smaller Yellow Sally stoneflies. You can also find good trout rising in the riffles as they feed on Pale Morning Duns and Pink Albert mayflies. Pale Morning Duns have a pinkish cast on the South Fork and they look almost exactly like Pink Alberts. Use size 15 pink Nohackle, Pink Parachute, Pink Split Flag, and Pink Parachute. Cripples and Emergers are also very productive.
Yellowstone National Park
Fishing has slowed down on the Firehole, Madison and Gibbon due to warmer water temperatures. You can still get into some nice fish on the riffle section of the Madison from the Barns Pools near the West Entrance upstream to Nine Mile Bridge. There have also been good hatches of Salmonflies, Golden Stoneflies and caddisflies on the Gallatin River downstream to Taylors Fork.