This spring has definitely been one for the books. The weather and the hatches have been far from predictable for this time of year; a week of mid 30 degrees mornings followed by roughly daily evening showers. Last night it hailed up here at the shop. This weekend it is predicted to have high temps in the 80s leaving me hoping that this means the weather is starting to warm up and stabilize. But it seems Mother Nature has her own agenda as always. I am not going to make any predictions here, rather educated guesses concerning the state of the rivers. With that, let’s dive into what’s happening on the Henry’s Fork and the other rivers around us.
Fishing in the Box Canyon hasn’t changed much since the last report, however my pessimism is deterred from speaking to folks who have had quite great days on this stretch. The flows have been up and down in the box and fishing has been the same. It’s currently flowing at a rate of 832cfs. Flow will likely continue to rise with increased irrigation demand but it is still below average. It’s day to day here as some days have been fishing really well and other days have been fishing really tough. The path to success here holds true from the last report as nymphing or dry dropping is going to be your best bet. A Duracell or other type of bead like a Mic Drop will likely be the flies that will receive the most strikes for you.
It’s the calm before the storm on the ranch. Fishing is always tough on the ranch, but the past few days have been tougher than usual. The thick drake hatches should be just about any day now from happening and a handful have been seen the last few days. However, the cold winds and rain from the north last evening set them back a little. If the weather warms up like it’s predicted to, I believe the drakes should be hatching in style by the end of this weekend. For now, caddis and PMD patterns are going to be the ticket. Fish can be caught on adult PMD patterns like a #16 Last Chance Cripple or emergers like a PMD Halfback #16/18 during midday and the spinner fall can be efficient in the morning. I would recommend a #16 Rusty Spinner. Caddis like the Missing Link Caddis can be quite good throughout the day but the hatch in the evening is the thickest. If fish are rising to green drakes, a #10/12 Parachute Green Drake is a good option to entice that eat. Keep your eyes peeled for the green drakes during the day and possibly the brown drake hatch during the evening. When they happen, the ranch is truly going to erupt. The ranch is a holy place, as always please be respectful of the land you’re on and the other anglers you are around.
I think it’s safe to say that the salmon flies have come and gone here and the only stonefly you will see are the golden stones. Dry dropping is still the best course of action in getting those strikes. The story is more or less the same here as it is in the box due to the fact that the most efficient way to fish here is drifting beads through seams, riffles, and pools. Below Stone Bridge however changing your pattern to a pheasant tail and increasing in size can lead to very good days of fishing. The hatches haven’t been incredibly thick here of recent and running that pheasant tail off a #10 Raspberry Chubby should more than likely be your setup until something changes.
The Madison is rivaling the ranch as one of the places most exciting for the near future. We are coming very close to seeing the first salmonfly hatch of the year for the Madison. This near arrival creates ample opportunity for rubber legs to be very effective right now and chubby salmonfly patterns in the coming days. It has been fishing tough but the salmonflies are coming into play and the water has shaped up. The flow from Hebgen Lake dropped from 1170 cfs to 1060 cfs which is close to average for this date. We expect a great week on the Madison. The salmonflies are not the only thing to be excited about as the caddis hatch should be really thick in the near future as well. For the salmonflies I would recommend a size 4 or 6 Henry’s Fork Foam stone and for the caddis a size 14 Missing Link. If you’re tired of fishing the Henry’s Fork this is where I would go.
The South Fork is really starting to fish great. The salmonflies have been moving up the river. So far the hatch has been a little inconsistent but it will intensify over the course of the upcoming week. There have also been good numbers of Green Drakes and PMDs coming off in the lower sections. This should also improve over the upcoming week. The flows have been consistent, slightly below average at 11,400 cfs. Our lead in photo is a 26” brown caught by one of our young clients. There have been a number of really big trout landed over the past couple of weeks.
The big news is the Yellowstone River is now open on July 1 instead of July 15. The flow from Yellowstone Lake is average. There are good numbers of Yellow Sallies coming off. Look for Salmonflies, Golden Stones, PMDs, and caddisflies over the coming weeks. The Firehole is on its last legs as fishing here is close to coming to an end and there are better places to spend your time in the park. The story is the same on the Gibbon as dry fly fishing has been very productive here. Flavs, caddis, and PMDs, all can be seen hatching there and fish rising to them. #16 cripple PMD patterns should work as well as a larger caddis pattern like a Spruce Almighty too. For the Flavs I always like a #14 No Hackle. The Gallatin and Madison are extremely close to really firing up and fishing very well as well once the salmonflies reveal themselves. Very productive days can be had in the park. I’ve heard dry dropping a soft hackle off a yellow sally or a small #16 golden stone pattern has been very effective as well. Another beautiful place that has a very bright future if you’re looking for a sabbatical from your home waters.