It’s hard to believe that summer is on the wane. So far it has been a great season in spite of the fact that stream flow from the reservoirs has been erratic and high along with near record heat. Things have moved back to center with stream flow and air temperature. We’re still locked into a severe drought that will have some major effects on fishing moving forward but things could have been worse. With Labor Day weekend not far away we can look ahead to some great fishing.
Upper Henry’s Fork
The reservoir has continued to drop in capacity to meet irrigation demand in the valley. Currently it is 42% of capacity. As the reservoir continues to drop some trout will move up into the river. It isn’t unusual for trout to move all the way up into Henry’s Lake Outlet. Hoppers with nymph droppers can be a very effective method to fish the upper river near Coffee Pot Rapids and above Mack’s Inn.
The flow at Island Park Dam is now less than 900 cubic feet per second. This is a little below normal for this time of year. Look for the stream flow to continue to drop in the weeks to come. The Box Canyon is now at a very good level for float fishing as well as wade fishing. We like to use a double nymph set up with an indicator using a larger Rubberlegs, Prince Nymph or Pheasant Tail as the top fly with a small Zebra Nymph as a dropper about 16” below the top fly. Hopper/dropper rigs are also very effective.
Last Chance / Harriman Park
Best fishing is in the morning hours between 8 AM and 11 AM. Look for spinners and PMD mayflies. Callibaetis spinners have been coming off in the slow sections like Bonefish Flats and the slow water near the Ranch buildings. Terrestrial imitations are also effective including hoppers, ants and beetles.
Wood Road #16 – Pinehaven
This water is similar to the Ranch. Use the same recommended patterns. You can also expect good hatches of Pale Morning Duns in the afternoon hours. These aquatic insects emerge all along the east bank of the river where cool springs enter the river. Trout hold in these areas. They are the most selective trout on earth. You’ll need exact imitation emergers, cripples and duns along with a perfect presentation to fool these fish.
We’ve had a couple of productive guide days floating the Cardiac Canyon stretch below Lower Mesa Falls. The water and fishing methods mimic 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).
Warm River to Ashton
As always, the section of the Stone Bridge downstream to the Fremont County Boat Ramp downstream from the Highway 20 Bridge has produced reliable action. Most of these trout have been caught with bead head nymphs, black or brown Rubberlegs or hoppers with a bead had nymph dropper. Streamers have been producing large brown trout in the morning and late evening hours.
Ashton Dam to St Anthony
The river below Ashton and St Anthony always takes a hiatus during the middle part of the summer. Some anglers get pretty frustrated with this as there are lots of quality fish in this section. We feel it is beneficial in the long run. The water temperature ramps up, the river becomes choked with aquatic vegetation, the bugs quit coming off and the trout stop rising. In another week or so some of the backwaters will be productive with Tricos.
St Anthony to Confluence
Low water, warm water temperatures, lots of floating vegetation, tough fishing.
Henry’s Fork Tributaries
As always, Warm River and the Buffalo provide great fishing for small trout throughout the heat of the summer. Both streams are spring creeks that remain cool enough to keep trout active. The water flow on the lower Fall River is dangerously low. The flow is good in the Upper Fall River. If you haven’t fish Fall River you’ve missed a treat. It is one of the hidden gems in the Henry’s Fork region. Use tungsten bead nymphs dropped about 2 feet below an attractor dry fly.
The Madison has been productive in the section from Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake. Dry fly fishing has been good with spruce fly imitations, caddis and hopper patterns. The wade area from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge has also been good. The water temperature has been holding at 66°F which helps keep trout active. If you can’t get fish to come to the surface try a double nymph rig with a size 10 Black Rubberlegs and a #16 Olive Tungsten Zebra Nymph below. Hopper fishing has also been picking up.
Henry’s Lake has been fishing well near the mouths of the tributaries. Best fishing has been in the morning hours from daylight until mid-day. Island Park Reservoir is getting low and the trout are starting to concentrate near the springs. You’ll need a boat to get to the most productive water near Trude Bay, Grizzly Springs and some of the other springs and tributaries. Use wooly buggers and leeches. Some anglers us a sinking line and slowly strip the flies deep through the most productive water. Dead drifting nymphs and leeches with an indicator can also be very productive.
Gulper fishing has been productive on Hebgen Lake. Best action is during calm mornings when large trout cruise the surface feeding on Callibaetis mayflies. It is possible to catch trout from shore on the north side of the lake but in most cases you’ll need a float tube, pontoon boat or boat. Best action is to us a dry fly that is easy to see like a Parachute Adams with a size 16 Sawyer PT Nymph as a dropper about 8 inches below the fly.
South Fork of the Snake
The flow from Palisades is just over 9000 cfs, still a little above normal for this time of year. Currently Palisades Reservoir is less than 15% of capacity. It won’t be long until the reservoir is completely drawn down and the river will drop significantly. Fishing has been good with hoppers but you have to work hard and get the fly in the right place. Fishing should improve with lower flows and colder temperatures.
Yellowstone National Park
There are some good midsummer options in the park. Many anglers have written off the Yellowstone River because of the low fish population. While the population of trout is low the quality of the fish is very good. You have a great chance to catch a 5-pound native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Use golden stone imitations, hoppers, wooly buggers and bead head nymphs. Hopper fishing has also been good on the Lamar River and Slough Creek. The Gallatin River has also been producing good hopper fishing.