Welcome back to the final fishing report for the month of July. While this past month saw the dwindling of the Henry’s Fork, it did bode excellent fishing on different rivers such as the South Fork and the Madison River which both saw a very nice salmon fly hatch. For this report we will go into your best strategies for finding fish in this hotter weather along with when we expect hoppers to show up on the various rivers we love to fish on. One of the most important things to remember while fishing this time of year and within the coming weeks will be to make sure we give fish a break when river temperatures reach higher than optimal conditions for fishing. This helps ensure our fish stay healthy which in turn helps all our fishing in the long run.
Fishing in the box canyon this year has stayed consistent in terms of tactics and bugs used to find fish. Your best bet will still be to run a dropper rig with a golden stone imitation on as the top fly. These goldens like to hang around throughout the year, so the fish are still very used to seeing them and some more than willing to eat the bigger terrestrial. In terms of selection for nymphs keep it simple, stick with perdigon nymphs, smaller rubber legs, and other attractor patterns. Flows out of the box currently are at 1,700 cfs, don’t be surprised if while fishing the flows are raised to meet the irrigation demands down south in the valley. This is usually always unfortunate for the fishing but is something that is common for the dryer months of the summer.
The ranch has fished well during the morning and evening hours of the day but has noticeably gotten worse as the day progresses and the temperatures get hotter. Getting out fishing spinner falls in the morning, leaving the river to have a nice relaxing afternoon, and then getting back to fish caddis hatches in the evening would be the best course of action for an angler looking to fish the ranch throughout the day. Temperatures are simply too hot for quality fishing after the morning spinner falls and before the evening hatches to justify spending all hours of the day on the ranch. If we can get a day with some nice cloud cover and maybe even a light drizzle, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hatch of flavs. I would have plenty of size 16 rusty spinners, PMD spinners and cripples, flav patterns for the cloudy days, beetles, and size 16 and 18 darker caddis for the evening. With the even warmer days of August approaching, letting these fish relax during the hottest parts of the day will be important for maintaining a healthy fishery for us all.
Mesa Falls to Ashton
Fishing on the lower Henry’s Fork below Mesa Falls has gotten very noticeably slower from what it was in June. There will be very little to no dry fly action on this stretch, so for someone looking to find feeding fish on top I would not recommend fishing here. For the people wanting to fish the Warm River to Ashton stretch, picking apart good-looking runs with indicator rigs will put the most fish in the boat. For choice of fly I would have plenty of rubber legs in both the larger and smaller sizes, split case PMDs, and olive bullet quills. Don’t be afraid to change flies in those runs often to try and figure out what those fish might be eating under the surface.
Flows out of the Ashton reservoir currently stand at 2,380 cfs. As mentioned above the fishing on the lower Henry’s Fork has gotten much slower compared to what it was in June. For anyone who is familiar with the Henry’s Fork this shouldn’t be a surprise, warm temperatures and little bug life are a perfect recipe for slow summer fishing. With that being said, your best option for finding fish will be to go in the morning and evening hours of the day fishing PMD’s, smaller spinners, and caddis flies. For more recommendations on specific patterns stop by our shop and speak with our staff or give us a phone call. In terms of outlook on this stretch the hoppers should start showing out in greater numbers in the coming weeks but, I would still expect slow fishing during the afternoon. Similarly, to the fishing on the ranch, giving these fish breaks during the hottest hours of the day is the best thing to do to secure a healthy fishery and protect our favorite cold-water species.
The salmon fly hatch on the Madison has wrapped up throughout the river, however you might be able to find a few stragglers and willing fish to eat the big bug on the upper sections like between the lakes. If you’re looking to still fish big bugs on the Madison my recommendation would be to throw a golden stone which typically occurs after the salmon flies, using a water walker in a golden stone variation and a Henry’s Fork foam stone golden would be my choice of fly. There are still some caddis’ flying around which will most likely be seen at their thickest in the later parts of the day. For fishing these I would recommend throwing a larger caddis fly like a missing link or EZ caddis both of which are available in our shop. The hoppers on the Madison should also get going here in the next couple weeks as we move closer into August.
Out of all the rivers we outfit on here at Henry’s Fork Anglers, the one that has been fishing the best the past week or so has been the South Fork. The salmon fly hatch on the South Fork like last seasons has been really good, with the bugs now up in the upper sections of the river. My preferred selection of fly for the salmon flies would be Mike’s Henry’s Fork foam stone and a water walker tied in a salmon fly color. Giving the fish something different to look at and mixing up to a golden stone pattern, especially on the upper sections, would also be a good call for finding more fish tight to the banks. Fishing there a couple days ago I did see some PMD’s hatching which means the riffle fishing should get good once the stones push through and the mayflies come out in greater numbers.
With flows near Saint Anthony at 824 cfs on the Teton, the river has finally whipped into shape for some decent fishing since our last report. As echoed throughout this report, getting on the river early to fish spinner falls will be the best strategy for catching fish here. I would also not be surprised to see some PMD’s hatching as the day progresses before lunch. With the hotter temperatures fishing a cripple PMD like a limestone cripple would do good for imitating the bugs as they struggle to shake free of their nymphal shucks in the heat. Fishing will more than likely turn off after lunch, so switching to a hopper dropper rig to try and find fish eating under the surface while giving the opportunity for eats on top will be your best course of action.
The best fishing in the park has been on the Yellowstone River itself, with a cluster of different bugs coming off on the river. Your best-off having salmon flies, golden stones, green drakes, grey drake spinners, PMD’s, and caddis. There really is a whole lot going on here so expect bigger crowds of not only park tourists but also anglers on the water.
After the weather heats up our lakes become a great target of opportunity. The two best lakes are Hebgen Lake and Henry’s Lake. Trout have been moving to the cooler water offered by the many springs and tributary streams. You basically have two options. Use a sinking line with a leech, woolly bugger or scud imitation. The fly needs to get down. Vary your retrieve until you find the right one. You can also use a dry/dropper. You can fish it dead or retrieve slowly. Hebgen Lake is starting to come on. This is challenging dry fly fishing. The morning starts off with Tricos and by mid-morning you can expect Callibaetis. You’ll see gulpers working the surface. The challenge is to put your fly where the fish ought to be (it usually isn’t.) You can also use the dry/dropper method.