"We are lucky people” ~ Rene Harrop
The sun is up in Last Chance. We've witnessed quite a welcome transformation over the past month. Transition's, both in climate and attitude have improved greatly - as warmer days, ample sunshine and high spirits have torn away at winters cold, windy clutch. Yes indeed kids, spring has sprung with a vengeance! Bearing with it a pile of sunshine, big trout & happy faces. A damn good time to be alive on the bank of the Snake River and more so, here on the edge of Henry?s Fork. But enough about our kindly predicament, let's get down to brass tacks.
April stirs an antsy inclination in a trout angler, only characterized by staggering sessions at the vise to fuel dubious exploratory mission's to check water & fish condition. Beyond the typical early season junk selection of rubber legs, beadheads & eight inch articulated sculpin patterns, a mild spring outing will likely dictate a more technical approach, if you're in to that kinda thing. Stretch that leader out a few more feet, find the dry magic & present robust midge cluster and baetis dries to gullible trout, but don't forget that drag-free-drift. These fish may seem easy, but rest assured, they're the same hard-nosed thugs you walked away from late last season. Mix that up with the chance of a Skwala or March Brown sighting, and an avid angler can stay entertained for hours, maybe even days. Over-thinking just got a whole bunch better.
BOX CANYON: Access to fish the canyon is still a tad sketchy. Even with this low flow, that sharp canyon basalt can eat a wading boot..& its angler, for lunch. So be careful kids & wade easy. Early April is a wonderful time to swing streamer patterns up around the dam. Flies dressed up as juvenile Rainbows or Sculpins will always turn the trick. Present these flies with a "low & slow” approach or even a dead drift through soft pocket water. Dry flies have their moments as well. On the right day, you can find good fish up on midges & even baetis. Keep your eyes on those scum lines to spot an occasional sipper. For nymphing, basic brown & black rubber-leg patterns followed up with almost anything beadhead will get attention. Yep, catch fine Rainbows all day, or post up on thick pod of whitefish & sharpen those deep column tight line Polish nymphing skills......
LAST CHANCE PROPER: Although a completely different story than last year, when we were seeing solid baetis hatches in early February, the last chance water had its moments over the winter. Now things are warming up & we're starting to see stronger midge movement as well as a spattering of blue-wings on the right day. Anglers have to move around a little more, but with the right eyes, you'll likely find a few legit targets. Word on the street is that a skwala or two or three have been kicking around as well. It doesn't take the trout long to notice these sizable trout snacks and it's one bug that really brings up those thick alpha Rainbows that call Last Chance home. Some of these trout are down right scary. Not a safe place for children, small household pets or Tenkara fisherman. Good numbers of trout are in spawn mode too, so pay attention not to disturb their once-a-year romp and leave the glo-bugs at home......these trout demand much more respect than that.
WR-A: The ramps are clear on both ends so drop the boat in for a day float or walk wade where you can. The bugs are out as well. Bring caddis, baetis, midge & skwala dries or nymph with rubber-leg & bead-head attractor type stuff. On cloudy days with a dark ceiling, rope up to cable & meat and pound the banks for huge browns & rainbows. This stretch also offers the angler a chance at hooking a whitey or two, and that's always an added bonus.
LOWER RIVER: The trout down here are eager & chomping at the bit to chase down big articulated streamers and that's always a visual treat. Bring a few smaller streamers & leeches too. Often times a smaller offering with a subtle presentation really drives the big fish nuts. The dry fly fishing is starting to warm up in comparison to just a month ago. On the right day you might find fish up on midges, baetis or the occasional skwala. The March browns will pop soon... and that will really get the fish fired up. Boat ramps are accessible making the float option viable again. A float will also afford anglers a better chance at finding pods of rising fish and you can chuck the big stuff in between.
BETWEEN THE LAKES: It's a full-on gluttonous streamer-fest right now. Those feisty rainbows are moving around to find comfortable spawning habitat & the big browns are hot on their heels. These trout favor big nasty articulated patterns so think big or even bigger. Big heavy rubber-legs will get the work done too and the dry fly fishing can be down right sublime this time of year. Nasty days are best right now, but you might well be surprised what magic can happen on a warm sunny spring day.
So that's it in a nut shell. It truly is a magical time to fish the Henry's Fork so come on up & have some fun. If you do find yourself in Last Chance, stop by the shop for friendly advise, premium flies or just to shoot the shit....and just as a reminder, the Bar & Grill is closed until May 12th (Mothers Day).
Location: Lava Lane
Honor Role: Tenkara, Dr. Martin Reed and Sir Patrick Gaffney
Words: Chris "Grizz" Andelin
Photos: Bryan Gregson Photography