It’s a winter wonderland up here in Henry’s Fork country. What better place to spend a day fly fishing for trout? The river isn’t crowded, the trout are hungry and hooking big wild rainbows in this winter setting is tough to beat. If you’ve got that fishing itch, the Henry’s Fork in winter will certainly scratch it for ya.
Our water situation isn’t fantastic, but we’re holding just above average with the Henry’s Fork / Teton basin at 101% of normal. Henry’s Lake is 98% full, Island Park Res. is 82% full and the remainder of down stream water storage looks good. If we continue to get good storm systems moving through the area, the summer water outlook looks promising. Keep your fingers crossed and pray for snow.
The open sections of the Henry’s Fork in winter offer anglers plenty of good fishing options. Access isn’t what it is during the summer months, but fisherman still have plenty places to get to the water. Here’s a run down of what’s open and what’s working.
UPPER HENRY’S FORK: The section of river from Mack’s Inn bridge up to the confluence with Henry’s Lake outlet is the toughest to access, but offers great fishing for those willing to get there. One can snowshoe, ski or snow machine into this stretch for unmatched solitude. Midge life cycle patterns, stone nymphs and assorted bead head attractor nymphs will turn fish on this stretch. Pulling a streamer through deeper water might result in a big boy.
BOX CANYON: Current flows coming down the canyon are 250cfs. The Box is always a safe and consistent winter option. There is good access parking on the west side of Island Park dam. Then a short walk down the forest service road or a boot pack down the dam face will put you on the water. Getting a boat or raft in is a little tougher, but with the help of a snow machine, it can be done and a float through the Box this time of year is absolutely beautiful. On the slower top end, under the dam, look for trout rising to midge single or cluster patterns. Multi nymph combo rigs are always effective, Try stonefly nymphs trailed by a zebra midge, pheasant tail or other attractor style bead head. Leeches and small streamer patterns fished deep and slow are also effective during the winter.
LAST CHANCE AREA: This area fishes well through the winter and offers anglers fairly easy wading with the lower winter flows. Access can be found right here in the TroutHunter parking lot. A short walk through the snow, and viola, you’re fishing! This area also has the benefit of our waders friendly Bar & Grill being in such close proximity. Fish to your hearts content, then slip in for a Hot Toddy, a beer and a burger. Can’t beat that in the winter. We’re starting to see some daily midge activity and the fish are taking notice. This will get stronger as we move through the remainder of January and in to February
LOWER RIVER: The warm river confluence area is fairly easy access and offers plenty a walk wade fishing. You can drop a boat in at the Stone Bridge ramp, but check the take out at Ashton before committing to a float. Midge and BWO life cycle patterns do well here all through the winter. Standard rubber leg to zebra midge droppers are top producers as well. Don’t forget the streamers, the big browns in this stretch are always hungry for the big meal. The river below Ashton dam, from Vernon bridge down fishes awesome during the winter. The flows down here have been fluctuating between 900 and 1080cfs. Apply the same strategies as listed throughout this report to trick the trout down on the lower river. The midge hatches around Vernon bridge can get thick, so be sure to pack the dry rod and a box of those tasty little offerings.
THE MADISON: Always a winter favorite. There’s a good chance, on any given day, that you’ll find fish rising to midges. If you don’t find fish rising, standard double nymph rigs with stoneflies and a plethora of bead head droppers will get the job done. And, as always, don’t forget the streamers, they are a very effective and overlooked winter choice on the Madison.
If you find yourself in the area looking to do a little fishing, stop by the TroutHunter fly shop, we’re open 9-5, 7 days a week. We’ll point you toward the best access, help with fly selection and send you off to productive waters. See you soon!