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Fishing Report

Oct 22, 2012 | Mike Lawson

Fishing report by Justin

Well first off I would like to say thank you to all the folks that I have seen/met on the river or in the shop this year. What a great year it has been on the fly. Fishing the Henry's Fork and the whole Greater Yellowstone area has just been a wonderful experience this year. With the season winding down and the traffic up here in Last Chance slowing down dramatically it is still a great time of year to be out here. Late fall trout fishing is quite special to me with shorter days (never enough time to get all the things done), cooler days (Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 37 degrees ), sleeping in (if your a bum like me), bringing a rain jacket (finally), and even a sip of whiskey out of that new flask I bought (drink responsibly people).

Now with winter coming, if your like me your mind starts wandering back to those flats fish that I can't afford but give up eating to do anyway. Or hitting up steelhead out west! BUT we are fortunate to have these great tail waters out here that are still open if you can brave the cold and snow. I have a tradition of hitting up a new tail water every winter with a few crazy fishy folks that have the same low tolerance for sitting behind the vise and vegetating all winter. But until winter officially gets here (and its coming) this is what you can expect to find around here right now.

There is one thing I would not feel good about forgetting to mention on this fishing report. The browns are full of eggs right now, and are looking to get on their "reds". Please practice careful catch and release on these delicate fish because they are holding the future fish of the river. I know most folks did not need to be told about this because lets face it we are all targeting those red hot runs from colored up brown trout right now. It is just a reminder that these fish are special and these fish do deserve to "do the deed." So please no ripping fish off their reds, and no whack-a-fish on egg bearing browns (or preferably on any of the fish that I want to catch later).


Upper Henry’s Fork

The Box Canyons flows are LOW! The flows are at 162 CFS as of right now. Which means two things, floating is out of the question, and wading access just got allot easier. You can reach all of those spots you have been eye balling all summer. The fish are still sitting in the deep channels and on the outside bend that they always are, except now you can reach them. I would recommend the Box Canyon regulars such as Zebra Midges, Pheasant Tails, and Electric Caddis.

Flat Water

The Ranch seems to be fishing well with Blue Winged Olives and Midges. I always recommend going for a good walk out there. Not only will you find more rising fish by walking along the river, you will also have time to take in how gorgeous it really is out there. You also can find those special spots that you visit every year. My favorite patterns for the ranch right now are BWO No Hackles in a size 22, and red Miracle Midge in a size 22. Obviously it is not easy to see these flies in those sizes so drag them behind a size 18 Parachute Adams or guess.

Riverside to Ashton Reservoir

The Canyon below Riverside Campground down to Upper Mesa falls is a gorgeous section of river. The fish very rarely get hit down there and some of them surprise you with lightning fast runs. Granted there is not a lot of rod breaking fish down there. We very rarely get reports from this section because it is not that famous spring creek water like the Ranch.  Nymphing is the way to go through this section and a pheasant tail or copper john would be the fly to use. I recommend getting a good map (we carry "the one") and exploring down there.

The Warm River to Ashton section of the river has been pretty good as of late. It involves a lot of nymph fishing as well as a good possibility of catching a nice brown trout on a streamer. A hopper/dropper pattern is still effective with throwing a chubby Chernobyl trailed with a pheasant tail, zebra midge, or even a copper john along the banks and in the deeper holes and channels. There are quite a bit of white fish, but it is worth it to catch those when you land that big brown trout. Down closer to the take out there has been fairly regular hatches of midges and tiny "sudos" or mini BWO's

Ashton Tailwater

The lower end of the Henry’s Fork is a great stretch to fish in the fall and this world class fishery is in full swing right now.  Streamer fishing and the Blue Wing Olive hatch are the best ways to go but be prepared with some Mahogany Duns and midges. With work still in progress on the Ashton Dam there is still some flow fluctuation that kicks up a lot of weeds at certain times of the day but its a small price to pay to get the truly trophy trout. If possible watch the flow charts from the regional water information link on this page to predict the best time to avoid the weeds and such. I fished just above St. Anthony a few days ago and got quite a few nice fish on the BWO No Hackle size 22.

Madison River

A lot of nymph fishing right now on the Madison. The most consistent fishing would probably be to throw a streamer with a midge trailing it. Work the banks but not too hard. There are fish in the middle of the river too. Between the lakes has been a good stretch, I like Mike's Matuka pattern on the Madison allot. 

South Fork of the Snake

Streamers are probably the best bet right now to catch a nice solid fish. A mutant stonefly is a great choice to get some work done along the banks. You can also hit the riffles with a BWO along with a pink attractor of some sort. Maybe a pink PMD or a Yellow Sallie.

Yellowstone Park

Dark streamers are the thing to use at this time along with leech patterns, baetis parachutes, and pink bellied hoppers. With the cooler mornings, being on the river before 11 AM wouldn't do anyone any good. These are good times to check out that "off the beaten path" stretch of river because you are allot less likely to run into allot of people fishing those stretches.


The Buffalo is still fishing well to little brookies with big attitudes, it's not the place to go for big trophy trout but its a reliable place to fish and a great place to teach the next generation of fly fisherman/fisherwoman to cast a fly and present that fly in a way to entice a strike.

The fall and warm rivers are still fishing well, nymphing with a Pheasant Tail or Electric Caddis is still a good way to round up those feisty less hit fish.


The Henry's Lake County Dock and the State Park have seen some good action as of late. With this time of year comes the time for fish to “come home” to spawn. Henry’s Lake sees many cutthroat come up to spawn. Be ready with some nymphs and attractors. They will mostly hit the nymph but you will get them to occasionally roll on your attractor. The mouth of tributaries is great places to be to catch a real nice brook trout or hybrid. A leach or other small streamer is a good option as well.

Due to all the water needed in the valley, the Island Park Reservoir is pretty low. Leeches and other nymphs are recommended. A darker color or olive color damsel is a choice fly along with a san juan worm or even a rubber legs.


-Justin Waters