I have had reports of ants out and on the water so after a short hiatus from the Henry’s Fork I decided to get back on the home waters. Yesterday I headed over to one of my favorite spots to access the Ranch. As I was gearing up there were flying ants all over the place. At that moment, I thought I might have died and gone to heaven. Flying ants filled the air and there was not another fisherman to be seen up or down the river. It soon became obvious why I didn’t see anyone. As I made my way down to the water’s edge I could see that there was not a fish rising anywhere. It appeared that not a single ant was on the water. However, I was not to be deterred. Maybe it was just a matter of time before all those ants I saw up at the truck would drop down to the river for a nice cool drink of water. Minuets of waiting turned into at least an hour before I spotted my first then a second rising fish. The only problem was that these fish were along the opposite bank and from my position it was impossible to wade across the river to get to them. With some anxiety, I scanned the water looking for a fish that was approachable from my position in the river. I eventually located a solitary fish working the water directly below me. Dang! Downstream presentations have always given me massive headaches. It is a technique that I have never fully mastered. No! It is a technique that I completely suck at. Some of the best Ranch fishermen I have known over the years insist that a downstream approach is the only way to fool weary, selective feeding fish on this section of the river. It was apparent to me that a downstream cast was my only option. If I tried to move even one step I would push a wave of water down to that fish and he would be gone in a flash. I laid out a couple of practice casts then turned and made the best downstream cast I could dropping the fly well above the fish. In my experience in situations like this your first cast is usually going to be your best chance so you better make it a good one. As I fed line downstream I kept telling myself not to jerk the rod tip up to quickly but to just lift the rod slowly so as not to take the fly out of the fish’s mouth should he rise to my fly. Give him time to eat the fly. Be patient. Don’t over react I kept telling myself. Everything seemed to be coming together when I saw that fish open his mouth and engulf my size 20 HOH CDC Black Flying Ant. I managed to control the speed of my strike set and eureka I had him. But, success was not yet achieved. Now I had to try and keep that fish from making his way into any one of the many weed beds that were surrounding him. Lady luck was with me last night. I was able to keep that fish out of the weeds and eventually into my net where I was able to remove the fly and gently release him to rise another day and hopefully challenge another Henry’s Fork angler.
Box Canyon: The Box is still producing decent fishing mostly with small beadhead nymphs. Our guides have also reported having some good luck with hoppers from mid-canyon down to the Last Chance take out. A few fly suggestions would include tan Panty Dropper Hoppers, tan or pink M’s Hoppers, size 14 Super Golden Yellow Chubbys, size 18 red or brown Zebra Midges, size 18 tungsten Split Case or Crack Backs, size 18 tungsten Flashback Pheasant Tails and MacGrubbers.
The Ranch: I would still call the fishing on this section of the river "Spotty Good” with the addition of a little more challenging in front of "Spotty Good”. There are still some rusty spinners around, some Callibaetis, we are having a pretty good Trico hatch, some very small baetis have started to show up and we have flying ants, honey ants and hoppers. I think the more challenging comment is a direct result of the fact that the "Ranch” has fished much better this year compared to the previous couple of years and therefore there have been more fishermen on the water pressuring the fish. They have been fished over quite a bit by now and they have become very selective and less tolerant of clumsy wading and poor fishing technique. Remember, a drag free drift is still the best formula for success on this difficult section of the Henry’s Fork. A few fly suggestions for the "Ranch” would include HOH Black CDC Flying Ants, Black Harrop Flying Ants, HOH Dark Honey CDC Flying Ants, HOH Black CDC Beetles, HOH Callibaetis Last Chance Cripples, HOH Callibaetis Paraspinners, HOH Trico Paraspinners, HOH Trico CDC Biot Duns, Jake’s Gulp Beetles and M’s Hoppers.
Warm River to Ashton: This section of the river is kind of like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps producing and producing good fishing for everyone. There is something for everybody down there. Dry flies and nymphs have produced the most action but the fish will also chase a well presented streamer (you will more than likely move the bigger fish on the streamers). For this section of the river my fly box would include Golden Tubbys, tan and yellow Panty Dropper Hoppers, tan and golden M’s Hoppers, Jake’s Gulp Beetles, black Zelon Ants, yellow Stimulators, Yellow Sally Micro Franks, and Purple Hazes for dry flies. For nymphs I would want a selection of Coffee/Black Rubber Legs, Black Rubber Legs, Kyle’s BH Yellow Sally and red and silver BH Lightning Bugs. I would have a few Little Rascals, Sparkle Minnows, Copper Zonkers and Kreelex streamers.
Ashton to Saint Anthony: We have been getting a few decent reports from this section of the river. The guides have been fishing hoppers and hopper/dropper rigs and they have been picking up some good fish especially early in the day. Things slow down later in the afternoon when the water starts to heat up under bright/sunny skies.
YNP: The Yellowstone, Slough Creek and the Lamar are all producing good fishing for better than average size Yellowstone Cutthroats. The Gallatin River has been fishing very well with both dry flies and nymphs in beautiful surroundings.