Fall on the Fork is a wonderful time indeed. The days grow shorter, the air has a certain bracing feel & the trout are putting on the feedbag in preparation for a long cold winter ahead. For the fly angler, fall is a magical time, full of eager trout & ample opportunities, but bittersweet just the same as the promise of a colder season, void of any prominent hatches, lingers not too far off down the road. The fishing as of late has been outstanding. We’re nearing the end of the Tricos & their spinner falls, but the Mahoganies & Baetis are filling the void. The terrestrial fishing is still a legitimate option & the streamer fishing is really starting to heat up. Along with all that, the midge hatches will intensify as we move further into fall. Here’s a little more of what to expect from stretch to stretch.
BOX CANYON: Current flows from I.P. Reservoir are 364cfs. Expect flows to drop even more with minimal irrigation demand. The typical standard rubber-leg to beadhead dropper approach will fill the net, but the streamer bite has been strong lately & gives you a little more bang for the buck. Focus efforts in the deeper middle river water & around deep bank side structure. On the lower end of the float, keep your eyes open for Mahogany & Baetis duns. On certain days these hatches come off strong and bring some truly impressive fish up to the surface for a bite to eat. Hoppers will still be a safe bet for the next couple of weeks or until we get a couple of good hard frosts. So don’t forget to pack those along.
LAST CHANCE & THE RANCH: Although the Trico spinner action is starting to subside, we’re seeing good Mahogany & Baetis activity. With the water dropping, the weeds will become more of a nuisance, but will also concentrate pods of risers. The midges are starting to become an option as well, look for fish feeding on midge emergers, adults & clusters early in the day and again in the evening. Terrestrials are still about and are a solid option on those warmer sunny afternoons. A selection of ants, beetles and hoppers should always accompany an angler this time of year. With cooler temps being the norm now, look for good fish up and eating throughout the entire day.
WARM RIVER TO ASHTON: This section of the Henry’s Fork continues to fish well. A deep double nymph rig is a sure fire way to get the fish. Hitting the bank with a big hopper pattern can be productive as well, and adding a beadhead dropper will only increase your odds. When the weather turns south, tie on a big gnarly streamer and target those big cantankerous pre-spawn browns. Keep your eyes open for fish up on Baetis & Mahogany duns throughout the canyon.
THE LOWER RIVER: This section is once again starting to shape up for the fall season. Look for Baetis & Midge hatches to intensify over the next couple of weeks. We’re hearing reports of good nymph fishing with a smaller rubber-leg stonefly trailed with a Zebra Midge dropper. The big browns that inhabit the lower river are starting to get a little attitude in preparation for their yearly spawning ritual, so be sure to pack along some large meaty streamers. This section is a fall favorite and fishes extremely well throughout fall and into early winter.
HENRY’S LAKE: Henry’s is really starting to turn on. The areas around the creek mouths and springs are your best option. Strip leech and bugger patterns with varied retrieves for a shot at voracious Cutthroat, Brook & Hybrids. Another proven method is to hang Midges or still-water nymphs under a hopper or small indicator. Mix up the depth to find that magic spot. For an added challenge, strip a mouse or rodent pattern over pods of trout.
THE MADISON: The Madison is starting to fish really well. Nymphing will bring good numbers, but these fish are still keyed on Terrestrial patterns and we’re starting to see solid Baetis and Midge activity. The bigger fish are responding well to streamers under cloudy skies or early & late in the day. The Midge hatches will get stronger as we move through September & into the colder weather of October. The Madison above Hebgen is starting to fish well with terrestrials, Baetis & a swung soft hackle or streamer.
HEBGEN & QUAKE LAKE: The Midge hatches are starting to come on and can provide outstanding fishing on top. Targeting trout with terrestrial patterns is still a viable option too. Look for fish cruising the bank or shallows and get a hopper or ant pattern out in front of them. Stripping leeches and buggers can be productive as well and the bead-head Midge under a hopper or small indicator can really get it done on the right day.
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