The Ranch has really been good lately. There are plenty of blue wings around and with the cooler weather I would also suggest some midge patterns. The great thing about the ranch this time of the year is the total lack of people. I have been out twice now and not seen another angler. There is no rush to be out first thing in the morning. We have had some great snow fall and it has been near freezing in the mornings so I would not be on the water until around 10 at the earliest. Make sure you have smaller blue wing patterns. I would have #18 and #20 no hackles or hackle stackers. I would make sure to have some #16 mahoganies as well. Be prepared for just about any weather conditions.
This is a great time of the year to fish the Box Canyon. I would leave the drift boat at home. The flows out of Island Park are 135 and with the buffalos inflow of around 200cfs that is a total of around 300cfs. It can be done at those flows but plan on leaving some gel coat on the rocks. If you plan on fishing in the box over the next week or two I would make sure you have some blue wings if you plan on fishing around the dam. I would have some #18 no hackles for the rising fish. I would also have some #18 olive and black zebra midges handy. Make sure you have some split shot handy to help get those nymphs down. It would be a good idea to have some streamers handy. I really enjoy parking at the box canyon camp ground this time of the year and fishing the runs below. If you enjoy swing flies, the runs below the camp ground offer some great runs. I like the crystal zonker and the cooper zonker. The #6 little Kim’s is also a great pattern.
The lower Henry’s Fork has been amazing. From the Warm River access on down to below St Anthony, you will find some great fishing. On the right day the blue wings hatches have been nothing short of amazing. I would also make sure you have plenty streamer patterns handy. Little Kim’s and barley legal have been very productive. I also like jaw breakers and wool head sculpins. I would have a little bit of everything for the lower river. Again no rush to be on the water first thing.
The South Fork is down below 4000 cfs and this is great news. Again look for fish eating both blue wings and mahoganies in the riffles and I would have small zebra midges. The #18 olive zebra and the #18 black zebra midge is a great choice. Have split shot or a rubber legs to help get them down. This is alos a great time of the year to fish streamers on the South Fork. Make sure you have a good color selection of your favorite pattern.
You can probably guess what’s happing on the Teton. Blue wings have been great and there are some drakes around as well. The overcast days have produced some amazing dry fly fishing. The crowds have also disappeared on the Teton for the most part. Again don’t forget your streamers and I would also have some of the small bead heads I have mentioned. I would dry drop the Teton. A #8 purple chubby with a #18 olive zebra midge has really been working well. Plenty of eager trout have been eating the purple chubby.
The upper Madison is the place to be and make sure you have blue wings. Pick your day if possible. On the windy days thigs have been a little tough. Go small with your dry flies. I would have #22 Adams or hackle stackers for the dries and #18 cocktail nymphs. The same zebra midges will also work well. You can’t go wrong with a San Juan worm and a black rubber legs. I really like to fish zonkers on the Madison this time of the year. Dry a dead drift of a swing with a zonker or a sparkle minnow.
The fishing in the park has been steady with most folks focusing on the Madison and the Fire Hole. If you have always wanted to fish the Maddy in the park this time of the year then get here. The big lake fish are in. I will often stop at the famous Barnes pools, not necessarily to catch fish but more for the entertainment value. If you visit these runs you will notice there are some different rules for fishing. All one has to do is watch for a moment. The Barnes pools are fished like a steel head run. You start at the top and work your way down. If you nymphing or swing soft hackles is does not matter. You wait at the top of the run make a cast or two and take a few steps down recast. It’s how they fish it. You will meet some great guys who make this a yearly ritual. Some of these fine folks have been making this pilgrimage every year for more years than I have been alive. It’s little like the ranch opener, a big social event. If you don’t follow these rules than plan on an ass chewing. If you just go jump in the middle of the water when it’s not your turn, you will hear about it. If you hold up the conga line you will hear about it. If you get an ass chewing in the Barnes pools, you most likely have it coming. Respect the rules and if you are confused as to how it works, just ask. Those boys are happy to tell you all about it. If the conga line is not your cup of tea it’s easy to find water that has nobody in it or just head over to the fire hole. There are plenty of eager trout that will eat a white Miller pattern or blue wing olives.
Henry’s Lake is the place to be for still water fishing. All the fish are coming to the state boat ramp, thinking it’s time to spawn. When this event happens plan on seeing some people around. I would have a good selection of leech pattern and bead heads handy. A #16 red zebra with a scud will work very well. Don’t be afraid to strip leech patterns on a uniform sinking line. Make your cast let your line sink a bit then a slow strip back.