The short hours of daylight in a rapidly shrinking season can present a challenge for one seeking to squeeze in as many days of fishing as possible before winter puts an end to it all. Even the best days are additionally shortened by the need to wait several hours for the temperature to rise each morning to a level that allows a late fall day to be enjoyably spent on the water.
A bright, calm day with the mercury above the freezing mark will often lead me to Henry’s Lake, where the best fishing of the year can be found just before ice over.
Responding to the requirement of storing enough fat reserve to sustain them through an extremely frigid winter, the ravenous cutthroat, brook trout, and hybrid cut-bows will cruise the shallow edges with a willingness to accept nearly any offering that might resemble food.
Though a busier time than usual, fall on this remarkable still water fishery shows uncharacteristic sympathy for even the lowest skill level, and a boat is often not a necessity in gaining success.
A reasonably mild day with overcast and even a bit of rain or snow provides perfect conditions for a late autumn Baetis or midge hatch. With thin water and tiny insects as primary features, the season’s last dry fly opportunity is not nearly as generous on the slow-moving Henry’s Fork as its still water counterpart. However, with the lake becoming an ice fishing destination as early as Halloween, a river that will remain fishable with a fly rod well into November does not go unappreciated.
Personally, fishing to the big rainbows with flies rarely above size twenty on a 7X tippet is as pleasurable as at any other time, and I am grateful for each day on the water before winter’s arrival.
Weather that is capable of emptying the river of nearly all human presence can be exactly what is needed to spark aggressive behavior in the brown trout population of the lower Henry’s Fork.
River guides faced with conditions bordering on unbearable understand that fishing a streamer in chilling temperatures, heavy cloud cover, and wind can bring uncommon reward to those clients willing to brave the elements when others might cancel the day.