Henry's Fork Report - July 4, 2024

Henry's Fork Report - July 4, 2024

Henry’s Fork Streamflows

Island Park Dam:  1320 cfs

Ashton Dam:  2020 cfs

St. Anthony:  1220 cfs

Fall River:  355 cfs

Henry’s Fork Country continues to be a fun place to spend a day’s fishing, with good opportunities on the upper river and some interesting fishing left on the lower for those willing to hunt.  The cooler weather this week has kept some of the glory hatches going, but with warmer weather by the end of next week, we expect to see some of the big bugs wane and settle into the groove of July’s more reliable bug activity.  Dry fly anglers should plan their days around morning spinner falls and choose their afternoon activity according to what the afternoon serves up in the way of weather.

Box Canyon

The month of July is when the Box Canyon reveals itself as the workhorse of the river, with good nymphing opportunities most days, and some great dry fly fishing with golden stones in the afternoons if the weather allows.  At current flows, the Box is a pushy piece of water and it’s easy to slide through for a half day’s fishing, but anglers who take their time can easily spend an entire day in there.  Indicator nymph rigs reign supreme, as ever, but dry/dropper rigs are effective if fished in the appropriate depth of water.  With higher flows, the residents will begin to spread out and occupy some of the water outside of the standard holding tank runs, so be prepared for action throughout the canyon.  We like a rig that has at least 6’ between the indicator and the first nymph, usually with a BB shot in the deeper slots, and often no shot at all while fishing through the more shallow reaches.  Adjust your weight and/or length for the water you’re fishing.  Caddis, PMDs, Flavs, and Golden Stones are all around in decent numbers, your fly selections should suggest these insects.  For all around success in the canyon, we like Rubberlegs stonefly nymphs #6-10, Two Bit Goldens 8-10, 101 Stones 8-10, PTs 12-18, Split Case PMD 14-16, Red Necks 14-16, Red and Brown Zebra Midges 14-18, Olive HP Caddis Pupa 14-16, SH Hare’s Ear 14-16, and Hare/Copper 14-16.  Perdigons prove indispensable at these flows and some of our favorites are:  Olive Hot Spot, Bullet Quills, Spanish Bullets, PMD Bombs, Jig Napoleons, Frenchies 14-18 will all do the trick. 

Railroad Ranch

The Ranch has fished well this last week overall, and it looks like another good week to come.  Morning spinner falls are the most dependable play, but anglers should be prepared for a wide variety of insects through the weekend, with things becoming a bit more streamlined next week.  Green Drakes are still around, though waning in number and Brown Drake Spinners seem to be present from time to time.  PMDs and Flavs are the main shows, hatching in the late mornings for the former and late afternoons and evenings for the latter. These two bugs are providing anglers with a good base of spinners in the mornings.  Red/Black flying ants are present in fewer quantities, but can be effective on fussy trout.  Ranch anglers will do well to keep the following patterns on hand:  a wide variety of mayfly spinners in rusty and cream 14-18 (Harrop’s Paraspinner, Copenhaver, CDC Biot, and Barrett’s are our favs), PMDs: CDC Biot Dun, CDC Thorax, Transitional Duns, Last Chance Cripples and Half Backs 14-16.  Caddis:  HF Caddis in tan and olive, Partridge Caddis 14-16.  Flavs:  CDC Biot Dun, Last Chance Cripple, Variant Cripple, Comparaduns 12-14.  Harrop’s and Heames’ Honey Ants are worth keeping handy as well.  Many of the larger trout in the Ranch are on the move, especially once they realize they’re being fished to, so take some time to figure out if you’re fishing to one trout that is moving or several trout that are rising periodically.  Taking a moment to observe prior to charging in on a target is general good practice and can help you make your shots count.  Heavy spinner falls can bring trout to the surface with frequent rises, and there are lots of great rods out there to use, but I favor a slightly stiffer action when fishing smaller dries for the increased accuracy they provide me when playing this game of inches.

Canyon Country

Canyon CountryThe canyons of the Henry’s Fork remain a great place to spend the day; remote and wild, they offer anglers a chance to spend a day’s fishing in some solitude with good action.  At these flows there are lots of lies that dry/dropper rigs can’t reach, so focus your efforts on the water you can cover.  Indicator rigs, though effective down here, result in so many lost flies that they’re usually not worth the effort.  Anglers down here shouldn’t forget that streamers can provide great opportunity in whitewater situations, allowing anglers some freedom to explore.  We like heavy streamers on long tippets and floating lines in here.  A high vis Chubby Chernoby variant is a great choice for the dry and a Rubberlegs or fast-sinking beadhead/perdigon 12-14 will usually do the trick for the subsurface.  Be sure to pack rain gear as weather can creep up on you with no warning in these canyons.

Warm River to Ashton

The week surrounding the 4th of July brings some busy days with the tuber and recreational floater crowd, so be prepared to share the river with other users.  An early start will avoid some of this activity and a short water break while pulling over on the side of the river is a handy way of letting a floatilla pass without having much affect on the fishing.  Indicator rigs are the standard down here, but dry/droppers can still be productive.  Early morning and later evening runs provide good opportunity for streamer anglers.  Nymphs should reflect what is being used in the Box Canyon, we like the Olive/Black BFE for a streamer, but there are many that will do the trick.

Below Ashton Reservoir

The river is pretty small below St. Anthony but there is still some flow as far down as Chester.  Morning spinner falls are the angler’s best bet, but there are still opportunities through the day with PMDs and Golden Stones for those anglers willing to forego numbers in favor of quality.  The lower river will likely hold up through the weekend but with air temperatures in the 90s in next week’s forecast, we expect things to start wrapping up down there and water temps to climb to 70 degrees during the day.  A morning down here is likely paired with an afternoon spent up the hill in higher elevations to make a full day’s outing.

Good luck out there and have fun!

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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