Henry's Fork Report - August 24, 2023

Henry's Fork Report - August 24, 2023

Henry’s Fork Streamflows

Island Park Dam:  587 cfs

Ashton Dam:  1420 cfs

St. Anthony:  1120 cfs

Fall River:  428 cfs

This cool cycle of summertime August weather has had some of the more sensitive reaches of the Fork fishing on a very day to day basis.  The Ranch and lower river bite seems to vary depending on which day you are there, the canyons have been in good shape and fairly consistent overall.  Variable weather has this effect, so be on the lookout for opportunity whenever you can find it.  Often a good August day on the Henry’s Fork comes from stitching up a series of slim opportunities and weaving them into a tapestry that looks a lot like a great day of trout fishing.  Stable weather, only slightly unstable flows, and water clarity that is reminiscent of the old days is what looks to be around the corner for the week to come.  Plenty of opportunity out there and lots of quality games to play!

Box Canyon

The workhorse of the Henry’s Fork has been fishing well overall and at its current flows lends itself to different opportunities, it is low enough to easily spend an entire day working its runs and moving slowly but still just fast enough to provide a half-day worth of fun fishing.  As ever, indicator rigs reign supreme here, but at these flows dry/droppers and streamer rigs are good choices as well.  August usually has us reaching for small midges in the mornings and slightly larger mayfly and caddisfly imitations in the afternoon.  The usual suspects are still working in here:  red and brown Zebra Midges 14-18, PTs, Tactical R/L PTs, Juju baetis 14-28, Rubberlegs and 101 stonefly nymphs 8-12, and your favorite perdigons (Olive Hot Spot, Frenchies, Spanish Bullet, Bullet Quill, Jakes SH, CDC France and Duracells 14-18) will all produce reasonable action.  For those interested in stripping, try an olive or black BFE, BSA Bouface, or a Zonker in both olive and copper 6-10.  Make sure you adjust your weight for the depth of water you’re fishing!

Railroad Ranch

Slim pickings on one day turn into a target-rich environment the next.  Don’t discount a low-bug day out there, instead turn it around and go on the hunt for those trout willing to eat what’s there.  These are the days that a single rise can be an opportunity for an angler who is ready to react when a target becomes apparent.  A good dose of patience and efficient, accurate casts of 40-50’ are the traits of successful Ranch anglers on these days.  Though catches can rival those in June, the opportunities are more sparse and anglers must put themselves into positions that help them capitalize on opportunities when they are presented.  Spinners are the mainstay of the mornings, but ants, beetles and hoppers can all become players at any given moment. Stable weather with low winds favor spinner falls, but a windy afternoon can be the gift that the afternoon is waiting for.  We are generally throwing rusty and creamy Harrop Paraspinners, Copenhaver Spinners, and CDC Profile Spinners 16-18 with some Tricos in 18-20 mixed in.  Be sure to have some CDC Biot Duns and Heames Klinkhammers in PMD variants for a tricky trout and an unweighted Pheasant tail that can be greaselined for a tricky emerger-eater.  Harrop and Heames Honey Ants, Shimazaki Ants 14-18, some beetles and grasshopper patterns will come in handy, no doubt.  I recommend slipping a few mahogany dun patterns 14-16 into your Ranch box just in case they decide to start showing.

Canyon Country

The week ahead is a good one to enjoy the canyons of the Henry’s Fork, some fun fishing awaits those who are wanting some wilderness combined with some fast water opportunity.  Though dry/dropper rigs are the norm in here, don’t be shy about throwing a streamer to try and find a larger trout, many of the larger fish in the system are dining on whitefish fry and smaller trout minnows at this time of year.  Leeches are around in fair numbers as well, a small pattern dropped below a hopper or Chubby Chernobyl can prove to be an effective way of locating a larger trout.  Remember that in order to float these sections, solid oarsmanship and safety equipment are mandatory, remoteness combined with a lack of cell service make for epic tales for those who aren’t prepared.  We prefer rafts to drift boats in these sections for their larger margin of error on these whitewater runs.

Warm River to Ashton

The days that come are some of the most consistent days of action on this section of river.  Late summer brings cool nights that translate into cold water in the mornings and prime temperature windows for hungry trout through the middle of the days.  This is also when we like to stray from the standard indicator rigs and devote ½ a day to the search of a larger fish through the use of streamers with sink tips and floating lines in and around the runs, or dry flies fished in the extreme shallows.  Nymphs mirror the selection for the Box Canyon, and be sure to adjust your weight or your boat’s location to match your water type and rigging.  This is a great section to take a begiiner angler or for someone who favors a day with a little more action than they’re finding elsewhere.

Below Ashton Dam

Day to day is the word down here.  There’s been some great fishing this month in the lower reaches but conditions play a strong role in the success of a day on the lower river.  Plan your days around the more dependable morning hours and take advantage of what opportunities you’re able to find in the afternoons.  Water temps can still get warm down here after a string of warm days, so have a backup plan for the afternoons if venturing down here.  We’re still a few weeks from stable fishing in these reaches.

Good luck and have fun!

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THE Henry's Fork

The Henry's Fork Foundation is the only organization whose sole purpose is to conserve, protect, and restore the unique fisheries, wildlife, and aesthetic qualities of the Henry's Fork and its watershed.

ranch tactics

with jonathan heames

the Legendary

Railroad Ranch

A mere mention of the storied Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork conjures images of expansive flats with large rainbow trout sipping away on the surface.  It's technical waters, and sophisticated fish have earned the reputation of PHD level dry fly fishing. Countless innovations in flies, and techniques have been spawned here, and few places will test an anglers ability more absolutely. Simply put, it is one of the most iconic pieces of trout water on Earth. 

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