By Andy Jenkins
Spring has arrived here on the Henry’s Fork. The snow is melting in Last Chance and the lower river is ice free and all boat ramps from the warm river to St. Anthony are open. The late winter fishing has been really good throughout the Henrys Fork. Rainbows are spawning and browns are on the prowl feeding. As the water warms the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch is just around the corner with the Salmon Flies soon to follow. Now is a perfect time to hit the water and enjoy the lack of crowds on the river.
Note: Please be cautious this time of year on the river and avoid walking and or fishing the spawning redds.
Upper Henry’s Fork
Fishing has been good in the section from the confluence of Henry’s Lake Outlet below Big Springs downstream to Highway 20 at Mack’s Inn. The problem is access. This area gets a lot of snow and the road to Big Springs is closed due to snow. The only access is by snowmobile, snow shoes or cross country skis. Several Island Park businesses rent snowmobiles by the day. You can also rent cross country skis or snow shoes at Henry’s Fork Anglers. Unless you are an accomplished Nordic skier we recommend snow shoes. The water temperature in this stretch is relatively constant due to the proximity to Big Springs. Midge fishing can be very good. Streamers and nymphs are also productive if you can’t find fish rising. Check out our video on our website “Cabin Fever” which is a great indication of how good late winter fishing can be on the Henry’s Fork this time of year.
This section has been fishing very good the past few weeks. Nymphs and streamers have been effective. Rubber legs, zebra midges, and egg patterns are good choices for nymphs with leech and Sculpin patterns for streamers. Access is still an issue here so bring your snow shoes.
Last Chance / Harriman Park
The water from the boundary of the Harriman Park downstream to Pinehaven is closed to fishing until June 15, 2014. However, the stretch through Last Chance is open year round. It isn’t uncommon to see nice trout feeding on midges on any day of the season. Water temperature can have a major effect on fishing even though it is only 3 miles below the dam. Keep an eye on the weather and if it is not too cold you can find great dry fly fishing. You might need a pair of snow shoes even though the river is only a short distance from the highway. Parking can also be an issue but you are welcome to park in our parking lot or several other businesses close by. Not much fishing is going on in the last Chance area stretch to the log jam, but on cloudy days bring your favorite midge pattern and don’t be surprised if there are some Baetis on the water also.
Wood Road #16 – Pinehaven
Fishing is closed from the south boundary of the Harriman East State Park downstream to Riverside Campground until the opening of general fishing season on May 24, 2014.
Access to the Henry’s Fork canyon from Riverside downstream to the confluence at Warm River is not available unless you have a snowmobile. Even then, hiking down to the water in deep snow is very hazardous and not recommended. There is a good snowmobile trail from Bear Gulch up to Mesa Falls that provides awesome winter scenery and is worth the trip even if you don’t fish.
Warm River to Ashton
The boat ramp at stone bridge and the county boat ramp are open. The fishing has been very good as of late. Nymphs have been working the best in the deep pockets and cuts. Rubber legs, zebra midges, and pheasant tails have been the most productive. Don’t forget to swing small leeches and streamers on cloudy days.
Ashton Dam to St Anthony
The tailwater section from the Ashton Dam downstream to the Vernon Bridge is closed for fishing until May 24, 2014. All boat ramps are open below Vernon Bridge. Fishing has been very good with nymphs and streamers. Nymph the deep slots with rubber legs, egg patterns, and zebra midges. On certain days we have seen very good dry fly action on the flats and slicks between Vernon Bridge and the Fun Farm back water. Have some midge patterns and Baetis patterns with you.
St Anthony to Confluence
The water in St. Anthony is open and is providing good nymph and streamer fishing. As the water warms up the streamer fishing this time of year can be great! Watch the “Down and Dirty Streamer” video on our website that was filmed last March below St. Anthony. Our favorite patterns include rubber legs, and zebra midges for nymphs, and small leeches, Copper Zonkers, and Sculpin patterns for streamers. Please be aware that starting next week the Del Rio Access will be closed until November because a new bridge is being built.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
Fall River is free and clear of ice and is fishing good. Don’t write this freestone river off as it can be very productive this time of year before the run off. Nymph the deep pockets with rubber legs, zebra midges and pheasant tails. Swinging small leech patterns can also be effective. Warm River above the HWY 47 Bridge can be very good for dry fly fishing on those cloudy days. There is a short section from the bridge downstream to the posted boundary near the Parker Cabin that is closed year around. Fishing the Buffalo River near Pond’s Lodge can be another option.
The fishing season on the Madison is a little complex so we highly recommend you check carefully with the Montana fishing regulations for more detailed information. The section from Hebgen Lake Dam to Quake Lake is open year round. The stretch from the Quake Lake Outlet to McAtee Bridge is closed to fishing from March 1 until the third Saturday in May. The Madison is open to fishing year round from McAtee Bridge downstream to the Ennis Bridge. The fishing season is closed to fishing from March 1 until the third Saturday in May from the Ennis Bridge downstream to Ennis Lake. Fishing can be very good in this section between the lakes. We like zebra nymphs, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Skinny Nelson and a variety of other small bead head nymphs. You can also find success by swinging a stream through the deeper runs. Access can be tough because of snow.
Unless you like to fish through the ice wait until the ice goes out in late April or May.
South Fork of the Snake
There are a number of very good options on the South Fork during the early spring months. For wading anglers we recommend you concentrate your efforts near the Heise Bridge or downstream at Twin Bridges. The upper river is also good from the Palisades Dam downstream to the Spring Creek Bridge above the South Fork Lodge. Access can be difficult but if you can find good water you’re likely to find good fishing with nymphs or streamers. Midge fishing can also be very productive. Best fishing occurs on mild overcast days.
Yellowstone National Park- CLOSED UNTIL MAY 24, 2014