Challenge is a constant in fly fishing and it's been a challenging year here on the old Henry's Fork, particularly on the upper reaches. Strong concern for the rivers health has been unyielding. The old guard, and new alike have begun putting the mighty river under the microscope, once again, to isolate problems and begin to formulate comprehensive solutions to ensure the greatest trout water on planet earth continues to reinforce its legendary reputation. Early July had its challenges for sure, but the water is beginning to drop, the clarity is improving by the day and the trout have began to behave in a more typical fashion. Fortunately for us, the general area offers a passel of solid trout fishing options in every direction. If the ranch water plays fickle, stop by the shop and let the team point toward some new water and fresh fish. You may be pleasantly surprised in what you'll find just a short drive from the Island Park area. Here's what's happening in and around trout town USA.
BOX CANYON: 1450cfs +/-. The flow here is still not ideal, but the fishing has picked up considerably. Plus, at these water levels, the hard boats take much less of a beating. Nymphing will provide the best fishing with small bead heads in the #16-#20 size range representing caddis, mayfly and midge lifecycle stages playing key. There are still plenty of golden stoneflies out and about, and on the right afternoon, the dry fly fishing can be outstanding. Throw big high-floating patterns around those middle river boulders to entice smashing strikes. Streamers are never a bad idea in the Box and offer a chance at a true brut.
RAILROAD RANCH WATER: It's getting better by the day folks. Have spinner patterns in olive, rusty and yellow dress, sizes #14-#20. Trico madness has begun, but the fish haven't quite taken notice. The honey ants are out and will most likely prove to provide some of the greatest fishing of the season should you find yourself centered in a drop. Round out the arsenal with hoppers, ants, beetles, callibaetis and a selection of caddis. Keep your gaze wide to locate sneaky feeders locked in mid-river lies. Play your trout fast, keep 'em wet and release with care.
CANYON SECTIONS DOWN TO ASHTON: These fast and fun float sections always provide fantastic fishing in the sportiest venues on the river. Hopper dropper rigs are always productive and a heavy streamer pulled around structure will always draw out a big boy. Or, fish a single dry tight to bank side rocks and logs to entice exciting visual eats. Deep double nymph rigs never disappoint.
LOWER RIVER: Water temps on the lower sections have slowed the fishing considerably. Best to seek out other venues with cooler water. This solid reach of water will ignite come autumn. Stay tuned for any changes happening down here.
HENRY'S LAKE: The lake is still fishing a little tough. If you do go, present leeches, buggers, scuds and a selection of still water nymphs for a shot at these over fed cutts, hybrids and brookies.
THE MADISON: The river over the great divide continues to provide good fishing day in and day out. Goldens, pmd's, caddis, epeourous and a variety of terrestrial patterns will take fish on the surface. Add a small bead head dropper to really clean house, or rip a streamer around to bring charging attacks from trophy caliber trout. Watch for the land dwelling insects to start playing the most important rolls here.
HEBGEN and QUAKE: Good fishing will be found on both of these fertile lakes. Callibaetis is the top performer, but caddis, tricos and a wide array of terrestrial offerings will bring fish up for a look. It’s a fun game chasing a tracking fish around trying to get your fly up front and the rewards are often large. The afternoon damsel fly fishing can be down right silly as well. Drop a bead during non hatch hours or when the fishing turns a little funky. Strip a leech.
YNP: Walk the Yellowstone with stoneflies, callibaetis, caddis and terrestrials or head over to the NE corner with a box full of hoppers, ants and beetles to pretty much have your way with big cutthroats who prefer to eat their meals from the surface. Depart early to avoid buffalo and idiot jams. Carry bear spray.
Stop by the TroutHunter before and after your fishing for a great meal a cold drink and good company. Or, to browse the fly shop for the best flies, finest outerwear and largest selection of tactical tackle.