Every year I look forward to spending a few days fishing on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park during the month of October. It’s a wonderful time of year to be on the river for many reasons. The crowds of summer are gone, the leaves are changing, the Elk are bugling, the Bison are herded up and the baetis and caddis are hatching. The fish seem to know that the lean days of winter are coming so they are on the move and very active. My passion is fishing to rising fish actively feeding on a hatch. I have always been fascinated by the visual aspect of dry fly fishing. Enter the Fall baetis and caddis hatches of the Firehole. Last week I drove over to the Park and pulled into one of my favorite spots along the river. From my parking spot I could see fish feeding on what I guessed were hatching baetis. All those visibly rising fish got me so excited that I pulled too hard on well-worn boot laces, breaking one in the process, requiring a hasty field repair involving some ugly and bulky knots ensuring that I could not tighten my boots adequately. After that delay I made my way down to the river’s edge, waded into position, then discovered that in my excited state I had managed to miss not one but two guides while lining up my rod. While correcting that mistake I began to think to myself that by the time I correct my gearing up mistakes the hatch will be over. I finally got lined up correctly and waded into position to make my first cast. In this position, I could confirm my suspicions that there was in fact a baetis hatch going on. As I stood there surveying the situation I could see a number of fish had moved into slower water bordering the main current. In this slack water the fish were lazily rising to the surface taking freshly hatched adult baetis. I tied on a size #20 CDC Thorax Baetis and proceeded to catch several nice brown trout. But, just about the time I felt that I was getting into the groove, the rises stopped. I figured I wasted too much time fiddling with my gear costing myself valuable time getting to the water. However, in the middle of my despair, I noticed some splashy rises out in the middle of the main current. A close look revealed that a nice caddis hatch was coming off out in the faster moving water. I tied on a size #16 Tan X-Caddis and proceeded to hook several nice rainbows. The interesting thing about the day was that I caught all rainbows in the faster water fishing caddis imitations and only browns in the slack water areas on baetis. Fun stuff!
Box Canyon: The "Box” continues to produce good fishing. Fish streamers and stonefly nymphs for above average sized fish just below the dam. A couple of small beadhead nymphs fished dead drift under an indicator seems to be the soup de jour through the canyon but stripping streamers, though not as productive numbers wise, will produce larger fish. You can expect to find some rising fish through the Last Chance run. They will be working the baetis hatch that seems to come off every day around 2 PM.
The Ranch: I can’t say enough good things about fishing on the Ranch right now. I don’t know why there are not more fishermen here enjoying this Fall fishing. Personally, I’m glad they are not. It leaves the river wide open for myself. The baetis hatches have been consistent and the midges have started to come on strong over the past few days. In my opinion it has been a dry fly fisherman’s dream come true lately. Good hatches and rising fish everywhere. Remember, the Ranch is open to fishing until November 30th.
Warm River to Ashton: Good fishing still exists on this stretch of river. Nymphing has probably produced the most consistent results but stripping streamers has produced the largest fish. There have been some decent baetis hatches in the afternoons producing some dry fly opportunities.
Ashton to Saint Anthony: The streamer fishing that everyone looks forward to during this time of year has been spotty (in other words, not so good). However, there have been some good baetis hatches coming off from 2 to 6 PM creating some decent dry fly opportunities for some nice size fish.
Henry’s Lake: Fishing around the county and state boat ramps/docks has been very good. For best results plan on fishing from 2 to 6 PM. Don’t know why it has been better later in the day it just has.
Come enjoy the Henry's Fork in near solitude. Although the lodge and bar & grill are now closed for the season, we are still in the shop from 9-5. Stop in for an up to the minute report and to take advantage of our ridiculous end of season sale!