Here in Island Park the signs of fall are starting to turn to winter. The leaves have fallen off the trees and the snow has begun to fly coating the Caldera with a soft blanket of white. We are starting to see the Brown Trout starting their fall ritual of clearing gravel to build their redds to begin the spawning process, with a few fish having already started the process.
Upper Henry’s Fork
The flow in Henry’s Lake Outlet has been reduced to help store irrigation water in Henrys Lake. With low water many of the larger trout drop down into the Upper Henry’s Fork. Large trout are also moving up from Island Park Reservoir. Coffee Pot Rapids below Mack’s Inn and the Henry’s Fork above always produce some very respectable trout in the fall. As long as the weather is cool you should be on the lookout for fish feeding on Baetis mayflies sizes 18-20 and small Midges. The most effective fishing has been the double nymph system with an indicator. Streamers and buggers also produce. With the cold mornings and evenings, the best fishing is between noon and 5 p.m. The water is low and clear so stealth along the rivers edge will afford you more opportunities for fish.
The Island Park Reservoir release is currently 79 cfs with the Buffalo River adding roughly 200 more cfs to the flow. Floating the Box will not only be difficult if not impossible but also unproductive. We received a lot of phone calls over the last couple of weeks about the dam reading 23cfs. The flow never reached that flow according to Rob Van Kirk with the Henry’s For Foundation. He said that the reason the gauge read so low was due to the buildup of vegetation around the flow monitoring station. With all of that being said the nymph fishing and streamer fishing has been OUTSTANDING! There is good wading access through the 2-1/2 section of the Box Canyon. Smaller nymphs are very productive when the water is low like this. We recommend size 18 Zebra Nymphs, Flashback Pheasant Tail TB, Cocktail, Two Bit Hooker, and Skinny Nelson. Streamers and buggers are also very productive.
Last Chance / Harriman Park
With the recent weather changes that we have had the fish have been eating Baetis and Midges on the surface during the middle of the day. Hatches have been a bit hit or miss depending on the weather conditions at the time.
Wood Road #16 – Pinehaven
Wood Road #16 a good choice for large rising trout but once again the best fishing has been best during the middle of the day, but don’t expect these trout to be any easier to catch. They receive an education during the summer months which has made them wary of anglers. You’ll need the right pattern (same as described for the Ranch) and perfect drag-free presentation, and a good dose of good luck.
With lower stream flows the fast water in the canyon becomes a little more user friendly. Use the same patterns described for the Box Canyon. There is good wading access at Riverside Campground and Hatchery Ford (FS #351.) If you are a little more adventuresome you can hike down into the canyon from some of the trails including Sheep Falls (FS #163) and Wood Road #6 (FS #151). Double nymphing and streamer fishing is very productive in this section. You may see a few fish rising to Baetis during the middle of the day on the lower section so you may want to have a couple of dry flies in you box just in case.
Warm River to Ashton
The section from the Stone Bridge below Warm River downstream to the county boat dock below Highway 20 fished great for us this summer and can still produce some good fishing this time of year. There are plenty of cookie-cutter 10 inch rainbows as well as larger Rainbow and Brown Trout. There is good wading access in the upper and lower stretch. With the Brown Trout spawning or preparing to spawn, streamer fishing is a very good choice to get a big fish here. Cloudy snowy days are very good, and the fishing is best in the early to mid afternoon. Be sure to watch out for the fish on redds in this section and try to make sure they are not disturbed if at all possible.
Ashton Dam to St Anthony
The dry fly fishing has been very good in the mid afternoons with Baetis mayflies in this section. It is a good bet to stick with nymphs and streamers; until you see the Baetis start to pop in the afternoon. The browns are very aggressive, so streamer fishing has been very good as well! Be sure to watch out for the fish on redds in this section and try to make sure they are not disturbed if at all possible.
St Anthony to Confluence
This fishery is my favorite on the Henry's Fork. This section of water is beautiful and can produce some very large fish especially this time of year. You can catch a lot of fish during the mid afternoon on little Baetis. If I was fishing, I would throw a streamer. If streamers are not your thing, you can throw a double nymph rig until you see fish rising! Be sure to watch out for fish on redds in this section and try to make sure they are not disturbed if at all possible.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
As always, Warm River and the Buffalo provide great fishing for small trout throughout the fall months. Both streams are spring creeks that remain cool enough to keep trout active. Lower Fall River was quite low throughout the summer but that has changed. Fall River is an excellent choice for quality fishing with light angling pressure. Most of the water in the lower river flows through private land. Make sure you have permission if you plan to cross private land to get to the river.
The Madison always gets good hatches of Blue Winged Olive mayflies. Look for feeding fish in the slicks. Until the mayflies get going your best bet is to use small nymphs like Zebra, Pheasant Tail and Two Bit Hooker. Streamers have also been very productive for larger pre spawn browns.
Henry’s Lake is on. Best fishing has been in the mid morning to late afternoon. Use a slow sinking or intermediate line with small leeches or wooly buggers. You can also use a high floating dry fly with a small nymph dropper. The same techniques work on the other area lakes. Island Park Reservoir is getting low and the trout are starting to concentrate near the springs.
South Fork of the Snake
The stream flow on the South Fork is below normal for this time of year and it will continue to drop during the days ahead because Palisades Reservoir is only 5% of capacity. The good news is that the water is still clean and clear. There have been good hatches of Baetis in the riffles! Streamer fishing is very good as well as nymphing. I like to use the Olive Matuka, and nothing can really beat the BLING! For nymphs, use small rubberlegs size 10-12, and small pheasant tails size 18-20.
Yellowstone National Park
The park will be Closed for the season on Sunday November 3rd. If you are planning on fishing in the park before it closes the fishing on the upper Madison has been very productive. There has been a good number of anglers fishing the park since it re-opened so just be aware that you will run into other fisherman. There have been some fish eating Baetis on top but the most action has been found with nymphs and streamers.