Bad news first. We didn't get the hopeful 1200 cfs max out of Island Park Reservoir last week. Flows are currently running at about 1550 cfs. Here's a quick note from the Foundation: "Outflow from Island Park Dam was increased this morning (7/10) by ~300 cfs to a new outflow of ~1,550 cfs to meet streamflow need downstream. Additional increases in outflow from Island Park Dam could be needed over the next few days, and outflow will probably reach 1,600 cfs by next week. However, we are within the two-week period of greatest irrigation demand, and we expect the duration of flows in the 1,500-1,600 cfs range to be less than 10 days. Release of water from Grassy Lake, which usually begins in mid-July, will help reduce peak outflow from Island Park a little."
Water is a bit turbid (still decent visibility) coming out the dam and there has been an increase in floating vegetation. The increase in flow and subsequent "ailments" are not anything new, and are actually pretty typical for this time of year. It's just a part of the system here as farmers need the water downhill, we have not had much rain the last week or so, and temperatures in the valley are pushing 90. Talking with the old timers, 1600 cfs is usually the top end of quality fishing throughout "The Ranch". Hopefully this will be the peak of needed outflow for the rest of the summer. So, now for the good news...
There are hatches and there are fish up and there are fewer people around! I'd love to tell you that fishing is as good as it was a week or two ago, and at times it is, but things are a bit sparser right now, so take advantage of the morning and evening windows for rising trout.
Box Canyon: The Box still continues to be one of the more productive stretches here on the Fork. Clients are boating excellent numbers of 12-16" rainbows with the occasional tank or two thrown in for good measure. Even with the turbid water, fish are eating tandem nymph rigs: #16-20 PTs, Perdigons, Crack Backs, and Zebra Midges seem to be the ticket. Small Stonefly nymphs have also been productive. The afternoon Golden Stone bite has waned a bit, but you can still find a few trout smashing Henry's Fork Stones and Drowned Goldens. Floating the Box is a bit more sporty than usual right now but still very doable if you have experience on the oars. Careful in The Pumphouse Run and just be vigilant. Watch anchoring in heavy current, and in fact, you're better off pulling over to the bank to land fish or re-rig lost flies.
Last Chance/Harriman State Park: I just got a text from Grizz who is out back fishing with a client, and there are big fish up and eating Green Drakes. Still Green Drakes around... who'da thunk it? "Tater" and I went down to the Wood Road yesterday morning and had shots at fish eating PMDs and Pink Alberts until the wind blew us off. Even with the higher water, we are seeing good morning and evening spinner falls as well as decent hatches. Have PMDs #14-20 (those Pink Alberts were BIG yesterday), Flavs in #14-16, Caddis in all shapes and sizes, Green Drakes #10-12, as well as Yellow Sallies, Ants, Beetles and Hoppers. If I only had one fly right now, it would be a #14 Rusty Spinner. I can't emphasize enough to pay close attention to the banks as you're walking, especially if you are the first one in an area. There are a lot of big fish that have moved out of the main current and are prowling newly submerged bank weeds and structure sipping spinners and duns.
Henry's Lake: Henry's is getting a bit tougher now that summer is in swing. Be on the water early around the springs and creek mouths, or off deeper weed beds in 12-14+ feet of water. Fish your flies as slow as possible using the line twist method retrieval. It's the usual on flies: Leeches, Scuds, Renegades, Damsels, Mighty Mouse, Callibaetis Nymphs, etc.
Madison River: There has been some excellent dry fly opportunities on the Madison recently. There are still some Salmonflies in the upper stretches, but it's transitioning to mostly Golden Stones, PMDs, Caddis, and Flavs. The standard fare on nymphs and beadheads will get it done during the lull of hatches. Flows are pretty low right now, only about 100 cfs at Kirby, so it's pretty easy to get around wade fishing. Hebgen Lake is still a couple of weeks away from really cranking. There are Callibaetis around, but the fishing has been pretty inconsistent on top.
Short and sweet this week as we transition to summer. Get out there and enjoy the great fishing to be had. I hope to have a report on lower flows next week, but we'll see. And thanks for all the positive comments and feedback on the fishing report!