A much wiser man than myself once said "You can observe a lot by watching!” The other day I drove into Harriman State Park and walked over to Millionaire’s Pool to see if there was anything going on. As I approached the river, I could see that there were several fish rising. I positioned myself inside a small stand of pines on the high bluff overlooking the pool where I had a bird’s eye view of the entire area. From my location, I spotted one and then another very large rainbow working the top end of the pool. These fish were very active as they moved from spot to spot within what turned out to be a very defined territory. The upper fish would move to the top of his territory and take something from the surface, then he would move several feet to the side, take something, then drop several feet down to feed again, then move back to the top, where he would once again take something on the surface. The lower fish was working his area in the same way. All the while neither fish would encroach on the other’s invisible territorial boundary. Interesting! Now, what were these fish feeding on? I made my way down to the water’s edge to attempt to identify the source of their interest. The water’s surface was covered with what I would call all kinds of junk. There were a few PMD spinners, both rusty and olive, a few callibaetis spinners and adults, some very small baetis (size #24 or #26), midges, tricos in every stage (adults, spinners, stillborns, cripples and emergers), an occasional beetle of various sizes and colors, an odd hopper and two different types of ants. What were they taking? A closer observation revealed that the one food item that was present more than any other was a very small black ant. I returned to my spot on the bluff with a pair of binoculars to try and determine with certainty what those two fish were feeding on. Were they feeding randomly or were they keyed in on one particular food item? I didn’t have to watch very long before it became obvious that they were keying in on those very small (size #22/#24) black ants. Although there were larger insects on the water those fish keyed on the one insect that was present in the greatest numbers. After a good hour and a half of watching those fish, I decided not to disturb them with a misplaced cast. I walked back to the truck and drove home completely satisfied with my Railroad Ranch fishing experience.
Box Canyon: Fishing in the "Box” continues to be productive. The best fishing has been with nymphs and streamers. There has been some top water action mostly on the lower part of the canyon down through Last Chance Run with dry dropper rigs. A few fly suggestions include coffee/black Rubber Legs, black Rubber Legs, Squirminators, Iron Sallies, Two Bit Hookers, tungsten Split Cases and Red Neck Midges for nymphs. Gaffney’s Sculpin, olive Sculpinators, copper Zonkers and olive/gold Double Screamers for streamers. Panty Dropper Hoppers, M’s Hoppers and Gold Chubby’s for dry flies.
The Ranch: Fishing in the "Ranch” can best be described as challenging. That does not mean it is impossible. It just means that you have to work a little harder to find and catch fish than when you were out on the water in July. There are some interesting things going on out there right now. The trico hatch is still going strong. The tricos started at least a month earlier than most of us have ever experienced and they are still hatching. I was at Millionaires Pool just yesterday and I could hardly take a breath without inhaling a mouth full of trico spinners. There were fish up all over although I have to admit I did not spot a fish of much size among all of those rising fish. I was not completely discouraged however because it was great to see the river full of young fish. If you wander on down to the Wood Road you will still find a very strong PMD hatch which starts around 11 AM and lasts through mid-afternoon. The tricos are still out in good numbers down here as well. Two days ago, fishermen reported that there were more hoppers on the water than anyone could ever remember and the fish were all over them. There are still a fair number of ants on the water along with beetles and a few Mormon Crickets. Also, and it seems a little early, we are experiencing a good mahogany hatch. A few fly suggestions for the "Ranch” right now would include Renegades (the best trico fly ever), Royal Wulffs (small sizes), Purple Haze (I use it for a mahogany imitation), HOH CDC Trico Biot Dun, HOH Black CDC Flying Ant (size #20/#22), HOH Black CDC Beetles, Black Foam Beetles, M’s Hoppers, HOH CDC Mahogany Biot Duns, Mahogany Sparkle Duns, Splitsville Spinners and PMD Paraspinners.
Warm River to Ashton: This section of the river is like the Postal Service. No matter what the conditions it delivers. Excellent action on just about anything although the most productive fishing has been dead drifting double nymph rigs under your favorite indicator. Dry dropper rigs are a close second with most fish taking the nymph dropper. Fly suggestions might include Panty Dropper Hoppers, small Chubby’s, Parachute Hoppers, Gulp Beetles, Trudes and Stimulators, small Rubber Legs, King Princes, Shop Vacs, Two Bit Hookers, Kreelex streamers, Little Rascals and Husker Dus and Husker Don’ts(with or without scooter sticks).
Ashton to Saint Anthony: Shhhh! Don’t say you read it here. There just might be something to talk about going on down on this stretch of the Henry’s Fork.
Yellowstone National Park: Still getting great reports about fishing on the Gallatin, Slough Creek and Lamar. There are also rumors of fish moving into the Madison River from Hebgen Lake.