Upper Henry's Fork
This is the time of year to start focusing on the Henry’s Fork above Island Park Reservoir the Coffee Pot and Mack’s Inn areas. Look for some good Mahogany Dun and Baetis hatches on cloudy days. Dark, damp weather is also the time to get the streamers out. Another great option is to use a dry/dropper with a Chubby up top and a 2-bit Hooker, Zebra Nymph or Flashback Pheasant tail about 30 inches below.
The Box is far too low to float but that doesn’t take it off the map. Without boats floating over the best holding water, wading is very productive. The best fishing is with a double nymph system. I like a small rubberlegs above with a Hooker, Zebra or PT nymph below. You’ll need to do a little experimenting to get the right setup with regard to how far to drop the nymphs below your indicator. The depth of the runs vary so you need to be prepared to change. I like to adjust the indicator anywhere from 2 feet to 4 feet below the indicator. Running streamers through the deeper pockets will also pay great dividends.
Ranch/Wood Road #16
I don’t think the fishing has been better the entire season than it is right now. There is a smorgasbord of dainty delights including Mahogany Duns, Baetis, Tricos and the odd caddisfly passing along the assembly line for each feeding trout. There are also a few ants and beetles in the mix to further complicate the issue. I’m not into trying to match up what each individual trout is eating. I believe that a drag-free presentation is far more important than pattern. This requires a long leader, (at least 12 feet), a long tippet, (at least 30 inches) and a long tippet (5X or 6X). I still use my rule of 3 for the proper tippet size. Divide the size of the fly by 3. For example size 16/3=5X. Chances are you won’t be using anything larger than size 16. However after the weather warms up you can still catch fish on hoppers. With low water and heavy vegetation, you’ll likely lose more trout than you’ll land but the Ranch is as good as it gets right now.
Lower Henry's Fork
By law outfitters are restricted to not more than three boats in any one section of the river. Right now our guides are fighting over the Warm River to Ashton and Ashton to Chester sections for good reason. With clouds there is good dry fly action with BWOs. Dry/dropper rigs are also producing great fishing. We’ve also seen some very good action with streamers. The backwaters of the Chester Dam, Fun Farm and St Anthony are also producing some excellent dry fly fishing. Brown trout are starting to get rowdy prior to their spawning season. Bright streamers like the Bling can entice some jarring strikes, especially during the morning and evening hours.
All sections of the Teton are fishing well but my favorite this time of year is the Upper Teton west of Driggs. There is good wading access at Rainey Creek, Bates Bridge, South Bates and Fox Creek. I fished it last week and was very impressed by the number of fish rising. Like the Ranch, the buffet was a variety of BWOs, PMDs, Mahogany Duns and a few large drakes. We also scored big using a dry/dropper with a Royal Chubby with a Tungsten PT as a dropper. Streamers are also very effective if you want to go there. However, there is plenty of time for streamers and nymphs. The best dry fly days are on us now.
South Fork of the Snake
The last time I personally fished the South Fork was during the Jackson Hole One Fly. It had fished well up until the event when the flows from Palisades Dam dropped by over 2000 cfs over the course of a few days. The flow has remained relatively stable for the past week at about 5500 cfs. The flow dropped again a couple of days ago to the current level of 4940 cfs. With the recent cloudy, wet weather the dry fly fishing has been fantastic. This great taillwater has always been at its best during the autumn months. This time of year there is also plenty of wading access, especially from the River Road from Heise upstream to Burns Creek.
We’ve been seeing some very good hatches of BWOs. The West Fork dirtied the river up a bit with our recent rain but things will shape back up in a hurry. The flow from Hebgen is low for this time of year making some sections a little difficult to float but wading access is great. If you can’t get them on dries try a dry/dropper rig. The fish will still eat a hopper or a big Royal Wulff.
An autumn experience in the park is well worth the trip even if you don’t fish. As usual there is plenty of opportunity. There are browns moving up the Madison from Hebgen Lake. This fishing can get crowded but you can always find a good run or two. The Firehole and Upper Gibbon are producing good dry fly fishing with BWOs, especially on cloudy days. The Yellowstone is very low and many of the migratory fish have moved back up into the lake but there are still some hefty cutthroats that will eat a well-placed streamer or a nymph. Some of the best dry fly fishing has occurred on the Lamar and Slough Creek but keep an eye on the weather. If it gets wet and rainy the Lamar will get dirty.
The hottest action has been on Henry’s Lake. With cooler temperatures the fish have moved in to the springs and mouths of the creeks. You’ll need a sinking line. Many anglers like leeches and wooly buggers but you can also catch fish on small nymphs with a dry/dropper rig. You can also try stripping smaller nymphs. The trick is to get the fly to the right depth with the proper retrieve. You might need to do some experimenting to get it all right but you might catch a giant hybrid, a respectable sized cutthroat or a substantial brook trout. A couple of our guide clients have landed some colossal hybrids over the past couple of weeks.