I want to apologize for the tardiness of this report. We have been experiencing unsettled weather over the past week to ten days. I did not want to post a report until we had several days of consistent weather in a row. Over the past ten days we have had hot dry days accompanied by lots of smoke courtesy of local and regional fires. We have had seasonally average days temperature wise with high winds. We had one day where a very cold and strong wind blew in from the north creating conditions that were miserable for fishermen and fish alike. And one day we had a gift from Mother Nature in the form of a day long rain event. We desperately needed the rain to settle the dust, help with the forest fires and to clear the air. During this time I took another road trip. I packed up the camper and headed into Montana. I didn’t leave the area in search of better fishing but instead was hoping to find cleaner air. Air that was not tainted with irritating smoke. I headed north to the Big Hole valley where I hoped to find clean air and to do a little fishing on one of my favorite rivers in the whole world. I am pleased to report that by the time I reached my camp spot on the banks of the Big Hole river near the town of Melrose, Montana I could see blue skies and white fluffy clouds. I hadn’t seen clear skies in over a month in Island Park. My nose and throat were not burning every time I took a breath and I didn’t have to reach for eye drops every couple of hours to sooth my irritated eyes. The fishing on the Big Hole wasn’t any better than on the Henry’s Fork but the air was cleaner. Day one on the Big Hole I worked hard to catch a few fish all of which were between 8 and 12 inches. Day two on the river produced no more fish than the day before but the fish I caught were all between 15 and 20 inches and all were taken on dry flies. I got back from my trip up north just after our day of rain and I am very happy to report that I can see the Tetons from Osborne Bridge. I have not been able to say that for at least a month or maybe longer. Yesterday I fished the “Ranch” with a good friend of mine from Maine, John Stinchfield. John has been coming to the Henry’s Fork to fish for many, many, many (you get the picture) years. We found a lot of small fish eagerly feeding on the surface (what they were taking we never did figure out) but struggled to find many good fish. However, through perseverance and covering a lot of water, we did manage to find a couple of nice fish feeding on honey ants. One of those fish I managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by striking to fast and taking the fly away from the fish before he had a chance to eat it. I made an absolutely perfect difficult cast on another fish that I spotted feeding in some slack water next to a very large weed bed only to have that old pro head right into the weeds before I could get control of him and all I ended up with on the end of my line was three pounds of stringy moss. But, all was not lost, I found a very nice fish feeding regularly along a bank with nothing but open water around him. On about my fourth cast with a Honey Ant imitation he took without hesitation and I was able to bring that fish to the net. He was a beautiful, healthy, 21” hooked jaw male that made all of the day’s struggles worth it. Today I went fishing with another old friend of mine Cam Cantwell. Cam and I fished a secret little spot on the Henry’s Fork and all I can say about the day is that it was special in every way that fly fishing can be. Oh yea, we caught several large trout on dry flies. The best one was when Cam kept insisting the fish he was struggling to get under control was most likely a large whitefish. As I was about to net the fish for Cam I announced that his whitefish must be a magician because he just turned himself into a 22” rainbow trout.
Box Canyon: The “Box” continued to produce good fishing even through the unsettled weather. It’s pretty much a nymph fishing proposition now. Dead drifting a small rubber leg with a size #16 or #18 beadhead trailer under an indicator is producing the best results. There has been some decent streamer fishing as well but the streamer fishing has not been as consistent as the nymph fishing.
Last Chance: I wasn’t going to give this section of the river a very positive report. The caddis seem to be pretty much done, there are not many trico’s up on this part of the river and the PMD’s have pretty much gone the way of the Dodo. However, I have been walking my lab along the bank out back of the shop the past couple of days and I have spotted several very large fish taking ants from mid-afternoon until as late as eight o’clock. If I had tomorrow off this would be the section of the river I would be fishing.
The “Ranch”: The “Ranch” has been a little spotty lately. There is still a good trico hatch going on, but the fish are not always on them, and there are a few callibaetis hatching here and there. The main event over the past week has been the ant hatch. The problem with the ants is that they may be out in abundance around the Islands or Bonefish Flats one day and the next they are down at Millionaire’s Pool or the Third Channel, and the day after that their back upstream or down at the Gravel Pits. However, if you are in the right spot at the right time you just might catch the fish of the season or better yet the fish of a life time.
Wood Road: This section of the river has been producing some decent fishing with trico’s, PMD’s and Rusty Spinners. There are also some ants around.
Warm River to Ashton: This part of the Henry’s Fork has been a real pleasure to fish over the past few days. Dry flies and nymphs (size #16’s and #18’s) have been providing plenty of action for small to medium sized rainbows, browns and whitefish.
Ashton and below: With the arrival of cooler temperatures has come better fishing down here on the lower Henry’s Fork. Hopper dropper rigs are a good way to go now. The streamer fishing should begin to pick up down here soon.
Henry’s Lake: The lake has started to fish very well over the past two weeks. There have been some very big fish caught on various leech patterns.