Last Friday after work I decided to head down to one of my favorite spots in the Ranch. As I was gearing up I could hardly contain my excitement. The conditions were perfect. There was no wind, not even a breeze, there was a slight hint of humidity in the air and some high thin clouds were covering the final rays of light from a slowly setting sun. This was the kind of evening all Ranch fishermen dream about. As I made my way along the path to my destination I had visions of rising trout dancing in my head. I expected to find fish rising to caddis and flav adults and spinners. Upon my arrival I was greeted by a glassy surfaced river devoid of any activity except for a couple of muskrats busily swimming up and down the bank. I had arrived at my chosen spot at around 7 o’clock. It should have been the perfect time for the evening hatch. Seven o’clock turned into 7:30 and still there was no activity. At around 7:45 I began to resign myself to the idea that all I was going to experience on this evening was a nice quiet walk along the Henry’s Fork. Then at about 8 o’clock I saw my first rise. Soon there were several fish rising to some hatching caddis. I tied on one of Rene’s CDC Bubbleback Caddis and proceeded to catch and release several nice rainbows. These were not 18 to 20” plus fish that we all hope to find when we venture out onto the famous waters of the Railroad Ranch. Still, they were beautiful, strong and acrobatic wild rainbow trout. Just as quickly as the hatch had started it came to an end. A few minutes passed without any activity and I began to think that the fishing was over when I noticed a few flav spinners over the water. Within minutes the air was full of spinners. It wasn’t long before the egg laying females were on the water depositing their eggs in their final act of their short but beautiful lives. I noticed that with the arrival of the flav spinners several larger fish were now rising just below me. Instead of the splashy rises to the hatching caddis these fish were methodically sipping the spinners from the surface. I selected one of Rene’s Flav CDC Silhouette Spinners from my box and attached it to my 6X tippet. I was now ready to see if I could fool one of those larger rainbows. I only made a couple of casts before I found myself hooked up to what felt like a very nice fish. Fish like these don’t achieve respectable size without learning a few tricks to avoid being caught. This fish headed straight for the weeds where he successfully parted himself from my fly. As I retrieved my line I noticed that my fly was still attached to my leader. I dried the fly off, applied a little Frogs Fanny, and went after fish number two. On just my second cast, a testament to the effectiveness of the Silhouette Spinner, I was tight to another respectable fish. I was able to keep this fish away from the weeds and eventually bring him to the net. This rainbow wasn’t quite as big as I first thought but still a nice 15/16 incher. I could still see a few fish rising in the fading light but I felt pleased with the success I had achieved and decided to make my way back to my vehicle while I still had some light to guide my way. Another great day on the Henry’s Fork!
Box Canyon: The “Box” continues to produce good fishing. Most of the fish caught over the past week were taken on small (size #14 thru #18) beadhead nymphs. There are still a few fish being caught on adult golden stone imitations. Fishing a dry/dropper rig with a golden Chubby and a small beadhead nymph is a fun way to cover the water.
Last Chance: This section of the upper river continues to produce the most consistent fishing. The fishing was a little slower this past week compared to previous weeks. This was probably due to the end of the green drake hatch and a weaker than expected flav hatch. The PMD’s are pretty much a non- event but the morning and evening caddis activity has been picking up over the past several days.
The “Ranch”/Harriman State Park: I don’t know what to say. I thought the fourth and fifth of July produced two very good days of fishing. It seemed like the PMD’s finally decided to join the party. Combined with the start of the flav hatch and the presence of some morning and evening caddis plus a few lingering brown drakes I thought things were really going to take off. This just didn’t seem to happen. There are fish out there to be found but you have to be prepared to cover a lot of water in order to find those fish.
Wood Road: This section of the river has produced more consistent fishing than the water upstream. This is probably due to the influence of the spring water that enters the river at the lower end of the ranch and just upstream of the Wood Road. PMD’s, caddis, flavs and gray drakes are all producing opportunities. There might be a few more people down on the Wood Road than you might expect because of the reports of better fishing here than upstream.
Warm River to Ashton: Still a great place to spend the day enjoying some uncomplicated dry fly and nymph fishing. It got a little crazy during the 4th of July holiday but those crowds have thinned out leaving the river mostly to the fishermen.
Ora to Chester and Chester to the Fun Farm: You can still expect to catch a few fish down here early in the morning and again later in the evening but with day time temps in the high 80’s it pretty much shuts down.
The Madison River (Montana): The fishing on the Madison over the past week to ten days has been lights out. The presence of salmon flies, golden stones, yellow sallies, caddis, PMD’s and Epeorus have combined to produce outstanding fishing opportunities.
The Gallatin River (YNP): The Gallatin is still running bank full so it takes a while for the water to warm up. Expect things to take off around noon and continue to fish right up until dark. Chris “Grizz” Andelin one of our pro guides has been sneaking his clients over to the Gallatin several times over the past week and the clients have all come back with big smiles on their faces. “Grizz” reports that he has never seen such prolific yellow sally hatches like he has seen on the Gallatin and the fish are all over them.
Hebgen Lake (Montana): The callibaetis have started to hatch producing some decent dry fly fishing. Small leeches and nymphs fished under an indicator are also producing results.