While the withdrawal of snow can be painfully slow, this obstruction to river access gradually reached the point where drift boats again become a common feature on the Henry’s Fork while wading anglers no longer must battle prohibitive depth to reach water left undisturbed for several months.
The energy of a new season is palpable as resident rainbow trout initiate the renewal of life in the fertile currents of the river while waterfowl execute a ritual of similar purpose along the edge.
Receding snow lifts the hardship for whitetail deer, which no longer must rely on the river channel for survival as the surrounding landscape begins to green. For a time, they will remain a familiar sight for the entertainment of river visitors but soon they will disperse into summer habitat in advance of giving birth to a new generation. Missing as well will be the magnificent Trumpeter Swans that adorn a frigid river through the winter months, but they are soon replaced by the true harbingers of spring.
It is the sound rather than the image of Sandhill Cranes that is most symbolic of the advance into a new season in Henry’s Fork country. Their ratcheting call is a piercing announcement of the presence of these large, stilt legged birds that are among the last to return to the high country. Not to be dismissed, however, is the mating dance of these large, winged migrants as they perform one of nature’s most moving romantic statements.
First to leave in the fall, Osprey also issue the final pronouncement of spring as these regal trout hunters again patrol the Henry’s Fork. Among the most compelling of aerial predators, they offer stiff competition on the river to even the most proficient of their human counterparts.
As days lengthen and nights lose their winter chill, aquatic hatches missing in the colder months now begin to energize the type of fishing for which the Henry’s Fork is most well-known. Once reserved for locals and those living within a short drive to the river, April brings a return of more distant visitors seeking to access an ever-increasing opportunity to pursue rising trout. Quick to provide assistance are the river guides who now begin a lengthening period of plying their trade that will end only with the arrival of another winter.
By early May, the quiet time for the Henry’s Fork fishing community comes to a rather abrupt end as once again the international spotlight is trained on the legendary river. And as the long, cold season fades into memory, thoughts of the fly fisher are now free to focus on all that lies directly ahead.
With finding more time for fishing becoming the most pressing matter, how much better could life be?