Early September is certainly a pivotal time here in Henry's Fork country. The nights cool off considerably, bringing water temperatures back to a more accommodating level, which is always good news for the local trout. Terrestrials abound, giving anglers the option to prospect with larger flies that often don't require a soft delivery and/or presentation. Strong mayfly emergences occur daily and the spinner falls continue to entertain fisherman during the early and late portions a day. The crowds thin a little as children return to school, parents catch up on summer projects neglected during those prime time fishing months and the first hunts of the season open. Next week, after the big labor day weekend, the crowds will thin even more and an angler will not have to travel far to find pods of hungry fish and copious amounts of solitude, particularly on a weekday. Fall is in the air kids and September on the Fork is nothing short of enchanting. With unlimited opportunities in both venue and tactic, fishing 3-4 different and productive waters during a day is definitely doable.....and fun as all get out. Do the rain dance people, the area surrounding us is littered with wild-fires and the extended forecast calls for little to no rain. Here's what to expect should you find yourself slingin' a fly rod around these parts over the next couple of weeks.
BOX CANYON: +/- 800cfs. Water clarity is still an issue as sediment continues to be pushed in to the river system. Some days are better than others and we're hoping the lower flows will alleviate the problem. The flows through the Box have finally lowered to a level which better defines those middle river slots and slows a float down considerably. This level is also much more hospitable for the wading angler. Fishing nymph patterns deep will bring the best results. A rubber leg to a bead head dropper is never a bad choice through this reach. Keep those droppers small, in the #16-#22 range and mix it up in both color and profile. A big juicy hopper will attract fish and hanging a dropper will only increase hook-ups. Low light hours call for a streamer and this approach is reliably the best for waking up one of those Box canyon slabs. Throw a sculpin pattern, or flies dressed as juvenile whitefish and/or rainbows. Watch for rising fish through the lower end of the float and present a hopper, ant or beetle pattern accordingly.
THE RANCH: The fishing through this awesome stretch of water has improved, but tough days seem to still prevail. It pays to move around and remain diligent in your fishing. The early morning trico spinners have been thick, affording anglers targets. Callibaetis activity through the morning and into the afternoon hours has been mixed in intensity. Mid-afternoon PMD's can really get those rainbows moving and don't forget the caddis box. The honey ants have slowed, but don't hesitate to drop one over an insubordinate fish, their not quick to forget these scrumptious little treats. Hoppers, ants and beetles will often get it done this time of year and work particularly well on those "one & done" trout if you can locate its feeding lane.
CANYON SECTIONS: Always a fun sporty float and loaded with fat hungry trout. Hopper dropper rigs work best this time of year, but a streamer will activate those larger fish. A single terrestrial or attractor pattern fished tight against the bank will provide plenty of visual stimulation, and eats.
WARM RIVER TO ASHTON: This stretch has shined all season and if you're looking to catch numbers with the added chance of connecting to a larger brown, this is the place to go. Double nymph rigs will catch many, hopper dropper rigs will catch a lot and ripping a streamer around will wrangle the bigger fish. Those bigger browns that inhabit this beat will really get aggressive in the next month as they jockey around and become more territorial in preparation for their spawn.
LOWER RIVER: +/- 1,400cfs. Hoppers are really moving some big fish down here. Get that big foam in tight and live dangerously with your presentations. Those big trout like to hang out in the deepest darkest lies under the trees and that's where you need to put the fly. Streamers are a no-brainer on this stretch and a dropper off the hopper will typically turn a tricky fish. This one will only get better as we progress through the month of September.
LAKES: Henry's lake is finally starting to turn on. You may not catch numbers, but the larger fish are starting to put on the feed bag with these cooler temps. Focus your efforts around the springs, weed beds and deeper water. Mix it up with leeches, buggers and stillwater nymphs or, hang a chironomid under a hopper in deeper water. The callebaetis action on Hebgen and Quake has slowed a bit, but the fish are still hangry and will respond well to spinners, terrestrial patterns and smaller bead head nymphs. Strip a mouse around for an exciting and often productive alternative tactic.
THE MADISON: Hoppers, beetles and ants. Small technical bead heads. Big gnarly articulated streamers. The upper Madison continues to offer anglers great fishing and it will only get better as we approach the cooler days of fall.
YELLOWSTONE: Those famous NE corner waters are all fishing well. The gray drake hatch is on and targeting those willing cutts with a wide array of terrestrial offerings never gets old. Streamers and leeches will always move some big trout and is a great option during the walk back out. The Yellowstone continues to kick out some fat cutts, but their proving a little tougher than they were a month ago. Bring the terrestrial and spinner boxes and you'll find success.
Stop in the TroutHunter fly shop along your way. We can assist in all your fly and tackle needs, and point you towards some great trout fishing.