The 2023 Season on the Harriman Ranch

Posted by & filed under TANGLES - GUIDES BLOG.

Read John McDaniel's thoughts and data here:

The report will open as a printable PDF. Feel free to comment below on this page.


  1. Steph Albano

    John - Thank you for your continued and detailed study of the river, hatches and fish we all enjoy. Your contribution to positive efforts for the future are unmatched and I appreciate all you do. -Steph Albano

  2. John Albano

    I would like to thank John for taking the time to write his annual report. It is something I look forward to reading every year. I agree with his observations about the hatches, vegetation and the missing age class of fish. I started fishing the ranch before it was a state park. It is sad to watch the fishery decline. I wish there was an easy fix.

  3. Brian Goodwin

    Good day, Henry’s Fork regulars and friends. There are many creditable observations found in John’s report even for those who deny its value. The replies to John’s report over the last two years demonstrate the complexity of problems and conditions on this iconic river; regardless of which side of the stream you reside on. As a 30-year fly angler across many western waters, including the Henry’s Fork, with over 30 years of tying flies professionally, even for many of you on this blog – I find that many of the right questions are not being asked. In considering the complexity of issues, I draw your attention to Mr. Van Kirk’s report dated January 2024; posted on the Henrry’s Foundation website - for convenience, the URL address is provided below: ( One primary distinction addressed in Van Kirk's report is the differences between aquatic invertebrates and hatches as illustrated in the following quote: “…. anglers reported some of the poorest hatches ever experienced, illustrating that stream-bottom invertebrate population metrics are not equivalent to hatches.” What Van Kirk is saying here is there are invertebrates in this waterway, however, anglers are not seeing hatches materialize as we have seen in past years. How do we reconcile the presence of aquatic invertebrates, while not experiencing the hatches we anglers are accustomed to? This disconnect between the “invertebrates” and the “Hatches” is at the core of the conversation we need to have. Van Kirk acknowledges the question of hatches is complex, based on his extensive research. Simply put, aquatic insects do indeed exist, and they exist in “…abundant numbers (page 31) in the Henry’s Fork.” So, where are the hatches? Van Kirk explores this question with no definitive answer outside of saying: “…hatches involve a complex set of factors.” I would add that this complexity requires patience and diligence to answer this question. Van Kirk outlines factors that John has also outlined in his reports in FY22 and FY23. Both provide value and they cannot be ignored. What I suspect we will learn is neither “Invertebrates” nor “Hatches” should not be commingled into one convenient answer and are separate. “Invertebrates” are “Invertebrates” and “Hatches” are “Hatches”! The Foundation is being assertive in contracting an entomologist, to not only address these areas of concern but also many other areas. Additionally, they are in the process of “…writing a plan – a $1 million grant application – called DIRTT: Developing Infrastructure to Reduce Turbidity and Temperature, to investigate and ultimately implement a large-scale project to help offset the negative effects of increased temperatures and decreased water supply on aquatic ecosystem between IP Dam and Pinehaven.” Finally, John’s report stated that he, along with members of the HFF board, former HFF board members, and Ranch regulars held three (3) meetings in FY22, I attribute that to John’s report, which many supported including many Ranch regulars in FY22, including myself. We are not clear as to the action plans derived from those meetings, but I am grateful to the Foundation, Mr. Van Kirk and John for their dedication to this iconic river. To have a foundation that bridges the communication gaps between all interested parties that impact the Ranch waterway is essential to the future success of the Henry’s Fork. Without Ranch regulars like John McDaniels, the Foundation and Mr. Van Kirk this waterway stands NO chance for future generations to enjoy. If anglers and scientists do not come together for the betterment of the Ranch - it will be relegated to nothing more than a bass pound in 20 years.

  4. Ethan Lawson

    Hi John - I really enjoy reading your annual report. I did not make it personally to the ranch once this year...but really thought I missed something based on this consistent superb reports. Excerpt below from the TH blog 9/1/23: "Ranch The Ranch fishing is the best I have seen in years. I know I keep reporting that but it’s the truth. If I needed to bitch about something it would be that I am not getting in there enough! I did take an ass kicking at the wood road the other day and I have nobody to blame but myself! I found three good fish sipping dries and promptly went Elmer Fudd on the first one. I walked right up on him thinking to myself, no way that is a good fish! Turns out it was a great fish and off he went! The others I spotted were not real interested in what I had to offer. Solid ass kicking! A better angler would have probably changed flies and not been so dang bullheaded! If you find yourself in the Ranch in the near future I would have hoppers, honey ants, callibeatis, mahoganies and tricos.. " May I ask why the reports were so strong this year but many are saying otherwise?

  5. John J. Bogacz

    First, I want to thank Dr. McDaniel for his annual Ranch report. All of us should appreciate John's candid observations which are never written with a hidden agenda in mind. John's only interest with his report is to inform us of what he sees and for us to consider that which is having a negative impact on the river. John has spent thousands of hours on the Ranch and his report should serve as a wake-up call for all who are interested in the health of this remarkable fishery. Next, I believe that Mike Lawson owes John a public apology. Disagreeing with someone is one matter, but publicly posting a response with "pompous" and "long-winded" demonstrates a lack of respect for Dr. McDaniel .Further, if Mr. Lawson really looks at other anglers as "his customers" does he really think that several boats traveling down the Ranch on a given day have no negative effect on the quality of the angling experience for those who walk and wade? Think for a moment of a crowded day on the Ranch. Fishermen will be lined up at prominent spots on both banks and there will often be a number of them in the river wading. Even the most skilled Oarsman floating down the river will have to make choices on what runs to float through and how close to come to wading anglers. A boat floating from Log Jam to Wood Road has the potential for disrupting numerous anglers throughout its float. With so many other options available for floating anglers (Box Canyon, etc.) is it "right" for a Fly Shop to schedule Ranch float trips to "impose on them (Anglers) when most only fish the Ranch a day or two each year?"

  6. Andrew

    I fish the Ranch maybe 6-7 days a year, usually in late Sept/early Oct. Re John’s comments about whitefish, I would like to add one anecdote, for what it’s worth. I began fishing the cliff below the Osborne Bridge around sunset, because it is so beautiful there with the sunset on the Tetons, etc., and there seemed to be a consistently notable rise to small BWOs every evening about that time. By that I mean a boiling rise. It appears they were all whitefish, unless trout were mixed in. One evening I landed five inside about 30 minutes, all seemingly healthy whitefish hooked in shallow water, on very small BWOs. Not sure what this means about the state of the fishery, if anything, but it was odd, to say the least. I would also agree I have seen more boats recently when I’ve fished the upper Ranch. I personally don’t like ‘em, but thankfully I haven’t experienced poor behavior, and I guess they have a right to be there. And I agree with comments about a need to improve awareness of Ranch fishing wading etiquette. I doubt I would be aware of it myself unless John himself had explained it when he guided me a few years ago, before I’d really spent much time fishing the Ranch.

  7. Dean Riphagen

    I'm a South African angler who has fished the Ranch almost every year since 2001 for decent time periods (usually two to three weeks at a time). I'm not sure if that would qualify me or my other South African friends as Ranch regulars, but as an owner of a fly-shop here in South Africa I have been fortunate to fish all over the world. One thing is certain though. If I was given one last day to fish on this planet, it would be on the upper Ranch. It was in fact JM's article "The Henry's Fork Without Whimpering" back in a 1985 (if I remember the date correctly) edition of "Flyfisherman" magazine that sparked my interest in the Ranch, plus Ernest Schwiebert's articles in the same magazines. The decline in certain insect species is very obvious, particularly the PMD's which I think ML called "the crank that drives the Henry's Fork' in one of the books he authored. I don't think there is an easy solution to solving that issue since Global Warming probably has a large part to do with that and industry worldwide isn't about to slow down to appease a bunch of Ranch fishermen! I also really don't have an issue with anglers floating the Ranch but there definitely seemed to be more anglers drifting the river in 2023 than I have seen before. As long as they respect the wade anglers (like motor vehicle drivers need to respect pedestrians) then I don't really have an issue with them. What I really don't like is wade anglers who come to fish the Ranch and have no idea about the etiquette that has evolved on the Ranch. Last year I had three young anglers walk right along the bank while I was fishing to a bank-feeding fish. The minute the fish saw them coming down the bank it bolted away. Usually if this was somewhere else on the planet I'd have given them a piece of my mind! But it just didn't seem appropriate to start a mud-slinging match on this beautiful river. One of them then waded in about a hundred yards downstream of me, hooked a good fish and then proceeded to scream and shout to his friends which was really infuriating. On another occasion myself and two friends had found a bank-feeding fish and one of my friends was targeting the fish when a young angler came walking downstream right along the water's edge. We gestured for him to walk away from the bank which he duly did. But as he walked past us he asked us what our problem was and told us that there was no way the fish would have seen him. The reason I mention these incidents is that many anglers (young and old) who are new to the Ranch do not understand the protocols and etiquette that come with Ranch fishing and perhaps what the HFF needs to do is place signboards at certain areas on the Ranch with the etiquette expected on the water. Like what JM outlined in his book. Good areas would be at the upper carpark, at the mailbox or at the stock bridge, at the carpark near at the Harriman headquarters and other areas on the upper Ranch where it's possible to wade. Below Osborne Bridge that really wouldn't be necessary since the wading is a lot tougher there due to the channel on the riverbed. The other issue which I have never encountered until last year was pets in the Ranch. On two consecutive days an angler brought his dog into the Ranch and tethered it to a fence near the Stock Bridge on the eastern side of the river. The dog barked incessantly all morning and it was infuriating trying to fish while the dog barked for hours on end. I'm not sure what the solution is but a hefty fine would, I'm sure, deter the owner from repeating the offence. Finally there has definitely (in my experience anyway) been a decline in fish numbers. And yet I had an experience on the upper Ranch last year that defied all that. I was walking out of the river late one afternoon without another angler in sight. I was very close to the irrigation channel area when I spotted a bank feeding fish. Then another fish popped up and another. Soon the river was boiling with fish and for an hour and a half I had them all to myself. There was a mixture of juvenile fish as well as much larger fish. I probably landed six or eight decent fish while the fish fed on the surface. So you never can tell! Just my two cents worth guys.

  8. Mike

    I do not believe that John McDaniel has crossed a line by bringing up the issue of float fishing on the Ranch, as his 2023 Ranch report did not solely focus on the condition of the fishery health alone, but also included the current state of the fishing experience on the Ranch. John has identified an existing conflict on the upper Ranch that Mr. Lawson unfortunately does not seem willing to acknowledge, and the problem is becoming worse every year. For me and my fishing buddies who travel across the country each year to fish the Ranch for a week or two, the line that has been crossed for us is the abhorrent behavior of numerous float fishing guides in the upper Ranch that we have unfortunately been subject to. I do not have the perspective of experience stemming from a lifetime of fishing the Ranch like Mr. Lawson, nor do I have the perspective of even being a “Ranch Regular” as John proclaims. I am jealous of both. That being said, 2024 will mark my 40th season of fishing the Ranch so I believe I have earned the right to offer some insight from my personal observations and experiences of how this issue has evolved and continues to degenerate. One of the very favorite aspects of my nearly annual trips to the Ranch is the visceral feeling of joy and exuberance I have during my first day while walking down along the bank, looking at the river, and saying to myself “Wow, I’m really here, I’m back!” However, during my more recent trips to the Henry’s Fork, wade fishing the upper Ranch in September, that euphoria has been brief. I would hope to think that Mr. Lawson would agree with me that a “line is being crossed” when: a) a float trip guide anchors up and their client starts to cast to the very fish you are actively fishing to; b) even having to be asked by the guide if their client can fish to the very fish you are actively fishing to; c) after dropping anchor and their client starting to cast to the very fish you are actively fishing to, being yelled at by the guide that you are now fishing to “their fish”; d) having a guide drift between you and the bank while you are actively fishing to a bank feeder; e) a guide not altering their course of drift from where you are wading until they nearly run you down; e) or, when you hand signal the guide to give a wide berth, they tell you to go f-yourself; f) being stuck between 2 closely anchored drift boat guides upstream and downstream from you with them giving you no room to move; and g) being subject to the incessant noise of a drift boat party from the Observation Deck all the way past the Grasshopper Bank, as if behaving like a bull in a china shop? I have been the unfortunate recipient of most of these crude behaviors (in only 3 years!), with my fishing friends relaying the same experiences and others (NO LIE). The list is not all inclusive. I believe that Mr. Lawson is drawing a false equivalency between the wading anglers and the float guides and fishing clients with regard to general on-stream courtesy, manners, etiquette, and behaviors. In nearly 40 years of fishing the Ranch I could count on one hand those instances of extremely disrespectful actions by wade fisherman that rose to the level of confrontation; but in my more recent trips to the Ranch, these confrontations are routine with many of the float guides, in fact, I would say the confrontations are increasingly unavoidable and inescapable. As a percentage of the whole, my experience over the decades of fishing the Ranch is that the percentage of wade anglers exhibiting disrespectful and rude behavior is far less than the percentage of the boat guides. What I hope and pray doesn’t happen on the Ranch, beyond its current state, is the situation that is now the “norm” on the West Branch Delaware River, which I have fished annually as well for nearly the length of time that I have fished the Ranch. For a perspective of how bad things have become up there, and could become on the Ranch, I encourage my fellow anglers to read this brutally honest article: No, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation hasn’t yet implemented regulations to govern float fishing on the West Branch Delaware, but each year more and more people are grumbling. Last May 2023, in a river stretch of the upper West Branch Delaware of less than 2-miles (the “No-Kill” stretch in Deposit NY), my friend and I counted while driving to a public fishing access area a total of 28 drift boats, not drifting by intermittently throughout the entire day mind you but concurrently! The West Branch Delaware River has become a drift boat superhighway, and the quality of both the fishery and the fishing experience has been negatively impacted, to the extent for me that I do not care to fish the West Branch anymore and avoid the constant state of anxiety, frustration, and elevated blood pressure for what the next (and next, and next, and next) drift boat party will do. Prior to the explosion of drift boats on the West Branch Delaware, my anecdotal data (similar to how John obtains and expresses his Ranch data) showed a long-term consistency in both the numbers of trout caught and also in the size of trout caught for decades. Both have decreased, and this same opinion has been echoed by friends who live close to the river. I have met old timers fishing in the Catskills who now refer to the West Branch as the “Asshole Magnet.” It is no longer pleasant to fish the West Branch Delaware whatsoever, if your definition of quality angling includes more than just catching fish. I will rue the day if after experiencing yet another negative confrontation with a Henry’s Fork drift boat guide on the Upper Ranch, if they then yell to (at) me “Hey, this is the Ranch what do you expect.” That’s what many of the drift boat guides say on the West Branch after a breach of decorum, as the author of the article reiterates. When you hear that you know the quality angling experience is lost. A cursory review on-line revealed that the regulation of angling from boats is used as a salmonid fisheries management tool (for both biological fisheries resource health and social issues to maintain a quality angling experience) in several states including Montana, Oregon, Washington, New York, and guess what, even in Idaho! So, I would not discount the possibility of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game having to become involved if this increasing conflict worsens. I would prefer that it does not come to this, honestly. Mandated regulation can be avoided if the bad egg guides (and bad egg wade fisherman) would just learn to regulate themselves. I have been fishing the Henry’s Fork long enough to have lived through the boom-and-bust cycles of the fishery, but have never given up on that very special river. If I seem selfish for wanting to maintain a high-quality angling experience and advocating for what makes the Ranch experience special to me, then so be it, call me selfish. But the current trajectory of the drift boat conflict situation has me very worried that it won’t last. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. And I am in no way advocating for no float fishing on the Ranch, I just wish these negative confrontations would go away and the wade and float fisherman could live together in peace. Every drift boat guide that goes by me without issue I wave to with thanks! Constructive criticism on this issue is welcome, but not in the manner of the vicious and unprofessional personal attack that Mr. Lawson inflicted on my friend John McDaniel.

  9. Justin Hamula

    We are all impressed and thankful for the data John McDaniel provides. And yes, it’s a bit lengthy but I want to thank you for your thoughts and analysis. We have all benefited from you sharing your data. And Johns analysis seem to support might observations as well. But for Mike Lawson to pop off on John is really not necessary nor productive. We all love the Henry’s Fork for our own reasons. But for Mike to be down right angry is disappointing, but honestly not all that surprising. Based on my recent interaction with Mike Lawson while fishing the Henrys Fork in the upper reaches of the Chester Back Waters late last June, perhaps Mike should also look on the mirror about his own actions. Before Mike Lawson casts stones, maybe folks should know that Mike Lawson and one of his friends yelled at a boat I was fishing out of, captained by a less than experienced oarsman, for making an innocent rowing error and coming to close as we passed and “running over his fish” he was previously casting to as he fought the fish he had just hooked. Maybe instead of apologizing we should have yelled back at him for anchoring dead center of the river and not telling us which side of the river was “his” water. Let’s take this moment to come together to address the problems rather than perpetuate the problems by pointing fingers.

  10. JD

    Thanks John for your report, comments and suggestions. There were a lot of boats fishing through the great ranch stretch. It seemed to be more popular than previous years. Their etiquette was overall respectful of the waders, so not an issue there. Everyday, it's a lot of boats. Whether that's hard on the fish or not, I couldn't answer, it is hard on the wader at times. Drag weeds across the river, half way there, a boat slides in, hammers it for 10 min, I have to wait another half hour before they eat again. But, that's a bit selfish on my part. IMHO, it seems to be a water management problem or issue. This seems to be the core reason of all ails. Bugs, sediment, dry beds, algae etc. HFF should focus on that first. Like I said, In My Humble Opinion

  11. Howard Kanitz

    I am not a biologist. However, it doesn't take a biologist to understand the effect low flows have on the aquatic vegetation and insect populations. The last few years I have seen as much as 70% of the river bottom DRY. It doesn't take a biologist to understand that dry river bottom doesn't suppport invertebrates or ranunculus ( the good vegetation). Just look at the scarcity of fish in the gravel pit area the last couple years. Another obvious issue is the nutrient load which contributes to the growth of undesirable algae. Neither of these problems can or possibly cannot be addressed as they are a result of water management and the additional septic load from the uncontrolled development occurring in the upper watershed. Progress(?) is killing the river. In regards to boat traffic on the river, it is concerning to me how much pressure is added to the "good" holding areas by guides walking (or anchoring) their boats in these areas for extended periods of time. I, too, love to float the river but the pressure put on the known quality areas by boats obviously contributes to the stress on the fish.

  12. Mike Lawson

    In the past I have tried to bite my tongue with your pompous railing about floating the ranch but this time you’ve crossed way over the line. I realize that your long winded ranch reports are directed to the “ranch regulars” as you call them and it provides an opportunity for you to rip the Henry’s Fork Foundation. I have some questions for you. What do you base your comment on that the most productive guide trips on the Ranch were taken in boats? Is there research to back this up that I am not aware of? One of your cronies argues that to reduce stress on “your” rainbows would be to restrict a section of the Ranch to walk/wade angling. The step would indisputably minimize stress on “your” rainbows and eliminate mortality of a few. Again, is there research that states that trout caught and released by floating anglers create more stress on trout than wading anglers? You stated that the serenity experienced by walk/wade anglers in the wade-only sections would be shocking to us all. Really? I agree with you that the acoustics of the Ranch make it incredible how far the loud, distracting sounds can carry. Noise pollution is one of my personal peeves. What do you base your statement on that boats make more intrusive sounds than wading anglers. Unfortunately the sound of anglers yelling and screaming while playing a fish or yelling back and forth to their buddies is all too common and very annoying. Yet you attribute this totally to float fishing. Who are you trying to influence with your utter disdain for floating the ranch? Doubtless you are catering to your “ranch regular” buddies but what can they do? Hopefully you are aware that the Henry’s Fork is a navigable river. Only the feds have the authority to prohibit floating a navigable river. Do you think railing on this subject, year after year, will influence the Henry’s Fork Foundation or the Idaho Fish and Game to embrace your concern? There is no biological data that shows floating has a more negative impact on the fish than wade fishing. This is totally a social issue. The Henry’s Fork Foundation has learned a few lessons in the past of getting involved with social issues. Good luck with the Idaho Fish and Game. Their charge is to provide as much opportunity for anglers as possible unless there is a biological reason. They only have authority to prohibit fishing from the boat. You stated your season is June 15 – September 15. That’s a total of 92 days. Doubtless you don’t fish every one of those days but you have stated in the past most days you aren’t guiding, you’re fishing the Ranch. With that in mind, is it reasonable to say that you average at least 70 days guiding or personally fishing the Ranch? How about from the whining “ranch regulars”? How many days on average do each of them fish the Ranch? They spend the entire season here. Most of them fish the Ranch every day. What would you estimate the total angler fishing days that are attributed to you, your personal guiding, and the ranch regulars? Contrast this to our own records which were accurately submitted to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2023 our total trips in the Ranch, from all of our guides, was 51 trips with 87 total angler days. In 2022 we took a total of 35 trips to the Ranch with 56 angler days. In 2023 we paid over $3300 in use fees to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. How much did you pay? I submit to you that you and your guide clients personally spend more days fishing the Ranch, year after year, than our entire guide staff! Another thing you must consider is the skill and experience of the anglers. You’ve stated that your clients, on average, are very accomplished anglers. How experienced do you think our average guide client is? I’ll admit that some of them are very accomplished but most of them are not. The Ranch is such a beautiful, special place that some of them don’t care if they even fish. Others are perfectly content if they catch a single trout on the Ranch. Personally, my health and age have limited my opportunity to walk or bike to some of the places I have fished all my life, long before you showed up on the scene. I’m finally getting back to where I think I can ride my bike there but for the past few years my only opportunity to fish these places has been to float. There are others like me. Back when the state took control of the Railroad Ranch, friends of the Harrimans, many who were responsible for the gift of the Harriman Ranch, were stopped from driving to the river. Most of them were up in age and unable to walk or ride a bike into the Ranch. The only way they could fish where they once stood in the river next to Roland Harriman was to float. One reason it is very hard for me to wade through your pages of rambling is, it is all about you. The basic premise of your reports is that the Ranch should be managed strictly for you and your cronies. Most of the bitching and whining comes from people who haven’t contributed a dime or read a single newsletter or report from the Henry’s Fork Foundation. Many years ago the Ranch was at least as bad as or worse than it is now. I rode my bike in from the mailbox and found Dave Schultz sitting on the bank with a big trout rising just a short distance away. I sat down and asked if he was resting the fish. He said he wasn’t fishing, only watching. He said that in the past few days every time the big trout started to feed, somebody would start casting and put him down. He just wanted that trout to have an undisturbed feeding opportunity. I spent the remainder of the morning with Schultz. After I got back to my vehicle I took stock in the experience. Honestly I think it was the most enjoyable day I’ve ever spent in the Ranch. It caused me to do some serious thinking. I have fished this water my entire life. I have developed the skill and expertise to catch these difficult rainbows. I live here year round. With all of the fishing pressure on the Ranch, is it right for me to hammer these already stressed trout? When I fish the Ranch I have always looked at other anglers as my customers. Is it right for me to impose when most of them fish the Ranch only a day or two and I can fish there the entire season? This experience happened somewhere in the 1990s. From that day I made a pact for myself with Shultz as my witness to never fish the Ranch until July 15th when the fishing pressure has subsided. I have never once broken this vow. I’ll offer $10,000 to anybody who can document me doing otherwise. Here’s my challenge. Instead of criticizing everybody else, How about focusing on yourself. I challenge you to follow my lead and wait until after July 15th to start fishing and guiding in the Ranch. I offer the same challenge to your Ranch regulars. If you are so concerned about the overall health of the trout, look in the mirror.

  13. John

    The dramatic decline in the productivity of aquatic insects is mirrored by a marked increase in the effectiveness of flies imitating terrestrial insects. From 1983 through 2012, 111 of 1,536 rainbows landed, or .07% were taken on flies imitating hoppers and flying back ants. The value specified in the above statement should read "or 7.2%" not 0.07%. The correction does not change the overall past and current time frame comparison of flies imitating hoppers and flying back ants. The result is still alarming. This Ranch fishery is undergoing a rapid decline in the aquatic insects. This was been quite evident: comparing hatches of 80-the-90s that were prolific (i.e., blanketing the water with all sizes of insects) as those in the 2018-2023 time frame (patchy presence and missing large sizes) on the river. I suspect water quality is the issue. I am not involved in HFF or its operations but it appears the have missing in action on the Ranch section of the Henry's Fork.

  14. John

    I look forward to John's report each winter, as I do not get to Henry's Fork each year. It gives me a chance to understand how the river was that year. I was on the Ranch water and Last Chance water 2nd week of July 2020 and had some very good fishing, mostly with Flavs, and on the same water 1st week July 2022, and had ok fishing, 1-2 fish per day, but all good sized fish, 19-20", nothing smaller. It made me think at the time that something must have happened to the 15-17" class of fish. John seems to make reference to this same thing. Hopefully it was just this one age class affected and there is a good group of younger fish that will mature and once again provide the quality fishing that Henry's Fork has always been known for. I know nothing about the local politics of the river concerning the HFF, so I can't comment on that, but I do find the Trout Hunter fishing reports of last summer, specifically 7-28-23 and 9-1-23, where Todd Lanning wrote that the fishing was great, almost like in the good old days, to be a bit confusing in light of this very detailed report by John. Both of these men are very experienced "pros" on the river. How could they come up with completely opposite reports?

  15. Ken Johnston

    Just read John's report and agree 100% with his comments. I have fished the Henry's Fork Ranch every year since 1984 and contribute to HHF. I even have had the opportunity to fish with John as well. Fishing has declined and it cannot be disputed. I am not a fishery biologist and don't pretend to be one. What I do is rely on are the organizations that are committed to the preservation of this resource and that includes not only the HHF, which should be driving this effort, but the fly shops and hotels as well.

  16. Scott

    Thank you for this season report. I have one question to make sure I'm reading the data correctly. In the section regarding decline in smoe aquatic insects and the uptick in terrestrial pattern success it is stated that from 1983-2012, 1,536 rainbows were landed (averages to 53/year) and from 2018-2023, 710 rainbows landed (averages to 142/year) - that is nearly 3X the catch rate (on average). Is this correct?

  17. Art Bartholomew

    It may be more practical to attempt to save a neighborhood than to attempt to save the world. Mission creep happens as organizations seek funding. Various projects and the dollars attached can pull organizations far afield. The Harriman family discovered a jewel and chose to share it. The HFF has declared itself steward of this special place. It seems there is urgent need to refocus time, energy and dollars to understand and attempt to fix the problems outlined by John McDaniel. Thanks John for your observations and concerns.

  18. Duane

    I fully support John’s comments and his commitment to the Henry’s Fork River . The HFF should listen to his counsel. I trust his intentions are solely for the good of the river , he has no ulterior motive.

  19. Gary Franke

    I agree with all that John has said in his report. I know a number of fishermen who no longer donate to the HFF. They have lost faith in the organization. Two W&L interns were cut to one. Said they did not have enough work for them. Hard for me to believe.

  20. Mel

    Thanks for another honest appraisal of the Ranch fishery. My results and those of my friends agree with yours. I only hope that these last few years were aberrations, but I fear they weren't.

  21. Layne Hepworth

    Excellent work John and spot on. You are complimentary of HFF where deserved and critical of them where they are lacking on really significant issues.

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