"In winter, I plot and plan. In Spring, I move.” – Henry Rollins
There’s a lot of movin’ and shakin’ going on up here in Island Park these days. The extremely mild winter of 14-15 is all but over and the snow has receded from the banks of the mighty Henry’s Fork. Spring conditions showed up about a month early, which made it notably easier to shake that winter rust from our bones. The river and its trout are in great shape currently, but we need more water to assure a strong fishery through the dry warmer months of the season…so pray for some cold rain and snow. The baetis are poppin’ right alongside prolific daily midge hatches, which is most excellent… and with the chance of a skwala or March brown sighting, an avid angler can stay entertained through the day until dark. Here’s what’s shakin’ in our neck of the woods.
BOX CANYON: Access to fish the canyon is getting better by the day. The upper boat launch is still snowed in, but should be clear and passable within the next few weeks. April is a wonderful time to swing streamer patterns up around the dam. Flies dressed up as juvenile rainbows or sculpins will almost always turn a good fish. Present these flies with a "low and slow” approach or even a dead drift them through soft pocket water. Dry flies have their moments as well. On the right day, you can find good fish up on midges and baetis. Keep your eyes on those scum lines to spot an occasional sipper. For nymphing, basic brown, black and olive rubber leg patterns followed up with almost anything beadhead will get attention. With the Skwalas out and about, the dry dropper option becomes a very viable alternative.
LAST CHANCE PROPER: The beautiful water that flows through Last Chance is alive and well. The midge hatches have been nothing short of fantastic. The BWO’s are still being a tad iffy, but they will become more consistent as we move through April. Cooler – cloudy days are best. Have a good selection of midge and baetis dries, emergers and cripples. Word on the street is that a skwala or two have been kicking around as well. It doesn’t take the trout long to notice these spring stones and it’s one bug that really brings those thick alpha Rainbows up for a grab. The water is a bit skinny right now and anglers have to move around a little more, but with the right eyes, you’ll likely find legit targets.
WARM RIVER - ASHTON: The ramps are clear on both ends so drop the boat in for a day float, or walk wade where you can. The bugs are out as well. Bring caddis, baetis, midge and skwala dries or nymph with rubber-leg and bead-head attractor type stuff. On cloudy days, tie on a big ‘ol streamer and pound the banks for big browns and rainbows. The whitefish are really hungry too, keeping everyone entertained in between trout hook ups.
LOWER RIVER: The trout down here are eager and chomping at the bit to chase down big articulated streamers and that’s always a visual treat. Bring a few smaller streamers and leeches too. Often times a smaller offering with a subtle presentation really drives the big fish nuts. The dry fly fishing is starting to warm up in comparison to just a month ago. On the right day you might find fish up on midges, baetis or the occasional skwala. Boat ramps are accessible, so bring the boat. A float will also afford anglers a better chance at finding pods of rising fish and you can chuck the big stuff in between.
MADISON BETWEEN THE LAKES: Those feisty rainbows are moving around to find comfortable spawning habitat and the big browns are hot on their heels. These trout favor big nasty articulated patterns so think big or even bigger. Big heavy rubber-legs will get the work done too and the dry fly fishing can be downright sublime this time of year. Shitty days are best right now, but you might well be surprised what magic can happen on a warm sunny day.
So that’s it. What a truly great time to fish the Henry’s Fork, so come on up and have some fun. If you do find yourself in Last Chance, stop by the shop for friendly advice, premium flies or just to say hello…and just as a reminder, the Bar & Grill will remain closed until early May.