After weeks of frustration on my home water, the “Ranch” section of the Henry’s Fork, I was finally able to rid myself of that black cloud that was hanging over me. It happened about ten days ago when I suddenly found myself at the right place on the river at exactly the right time. On that day I had decided to check out one of my favorite spots in the Last Chance section. When I arrived at my chosen spot there was already a good hatch of both baetis and midges in progress. As I surveyed the water, remembering what Yogi used to say, “you can observe a lot just by watching”, I determined that most of the fish I could see rising were keyed in on the baetis. From my position on the bank I was able to pick out one fish that was moving quite a bit of water every time it fed indicating to me that this was a fish of some size. I selected a size #22 adult baetis imitation from my box and quickly attached it to my 6X tippet. Then, like a stealthy heron stalking its prey, I moved into position. Now for the rest of the story! Over the next hour I changed flies, changed tippet size, added tippet to lengthen my leader and changed my casting position from directly upstream to directly downstream to up and across from the right then up and across from the left. During the entire time that fish kept feeding as if I wasn’t even there. At that point all I could do was bow my head in respect and move on to another target before the hatch was over. I can report that I was able to fool several energetic rainbows in the 12 to 14” range before the hatch ended and I headed home for an adult beverage. All and all a very successful day on the river. Since that day I have been on the river about every afternoon after work or on my days off. I have found feeding fish every day. Recently (the past four or five days) I have encountered only midges on the water. I have come to the conclusion that the fall baetis hatch is probably over. During this time I have been fortunate enough to hook and land several very nice rainbows on midge adult and emerger patterns. I had one very good afternoon down below the Log Jam in the areas that John McDaniel calls the Bay of Pigs and the Flav Bank and I have had several good days down along the western side of the river across from the Wood Road. As long as the weather permits I will continue to chase fish on the Ranch.
Box Canyon: Low water releases from Island Park reservoir have created conditions that have made for tough floating but are very user friendly for wading fishermen. Fishing has been fairly productive with double nymph rigs. Try a size #10 or #12 black rubber leg with a small #16 or #18 red, black or brown Zebra Midge or just two Zebra Midges weighted with a couple of split shot to make sure they are on or near the bottom. You’ll probably lose a few rigs but if you are not bottom bouncing your not in the zone. There has been some streamer fishing from just below the dam to mid-canyon.
Last Chance/Ranch/Wood Road: I consider the fishing on this section of the river to be good but challenging (when is it not). Remember, with great challenges comes even greater rewards! Decent afternoon midge hatches have the fish up throughout the “Ranch”. An added bonus about fishing at this time of year is that you can find plenty of places where you will have the river all to yourself (except for a few ducks, geese and swans).
Warm River to Ashton: Still getting good reports from this section of the river. Most productive fishing, whether floating or wading, has been dead drifting double nymph rigs under an indicator. There has also been some decent afternoon dry fly fishing courtesy of good baetis and midge hatches. The streamer fishing has slowed down quite a bit.
Ashton and below: Pretty much the same report as above except that the baetis hatches have been more consistent and heavier on this section than they have been up above the Ashton reservoir. Also, streamer fishing has been more productive down here.
Henry’s Lake: Good reports have been coming in from the areas around the state park access, Staley Springs, the hatchery and the creek mouths.