Henry's Fork Report - June 13, 2024

Henry's Fork Report - June 13, 2024

Henry’s Fork Streamflows

Island Park Dam:  618 cfs

Ashton Dam:  1640 cfs

St. Anthony:  2400 cfs

Fall River:  1880 cfs

Some of the most beautiful days of the year have been in this past week, and there are likely to be a few more in the coming weeks. Fishing has been pretty good out there, overall, but some of the best fishing of the year is yet to come.  Water conditions are very good for the date and we expect that to remain the case for the next couple of weeks.  The Fall River is on the drop and has passed its peak runoff, some of the best dry fly fishing of the year is now around the corner.  Anglers will do well to stock their fly boxes and arrive prepared for any one of a number of different insects and hatch phases, the Bug-Palooza of June is now imminent.  One of the best parties in fly fishing will happen at the Trouthunter on Friday, June 14th, preceding the opening day of the Railroad Ranch on the 15th

Box Canyon

At 618 cfs, the Box Canyon remains at a delightful flow for both angling and navigation.  Lots of smiles and fun fishing has been had this last week and we expect the coming week to provide more.  Salmonflies are still around in sparser numbers than last week and likely won’t last more than a few more days with the current weather forecast.  Dry fly opportunity will wane with the decrease in the number of  big bugs, but the “workhorse” of the Henry’s Fork will likely continue to produce in the coming week with good nymphing and dry/dropper opportunities.  We love the Henry’s Fork Salmonfly and Golden Stone in here, as well as the Waterwalker variants, if the focus is on the dropper, a classic Chubby Chernobyl is a must.  For nymphs, we still like rubberlegs stoneflies in #6-8, 101 Stones, Two Bit Stones, PTs 14-18, red and brown Zebra Midges 14-18, HP Caddis Pupa in olive and tan #14-16, Hare and Copper #14-16, and SH Hare’s Ears in the same sizes.  Your favorite perdigons are always useful and we are using the Olive Hot Spot, Spanish Bullet, Olive Quill, CDC France Fly, and Rensburg’s Tubby Morten #14-18.  If the forecast doesn’t give you what you want this week, think about a visit to the Box Canyon, where a good day’s fishing can be had in a wide variety of conditions.

Railroad Ranch

One of the most sought after opening days in the trout fishing world and certainly the fly fishing world is coming up on this Saturday, as the waters of Harriman State Park open their gates to anglers from around the world and across the country.  These anglers come in pursuit of fishing dry flies to rising trout in these legendary 7 miles of trout water that is arguably some of the most famous in the world.  The crowd that gathers here for this period each year includes some of the finest anglers in the modern world as well as some of the most unorthodox and eclectic.  It is a salad bowl of humanity with many walks of life represented, most in pursuit of memories that will last them another year and another long winter.  If fishing is slow, take pause to converse with some of your fellow anglers, this eclectic band of folks is fun, dedicated to the sport of angling with a fly, and are keepers of fly fishing history and tradition.  There are few places in the world where such great a focus is placed on the “why” we fly fish and the resulting “how” we catch them.  The place and the water lend itself to the “how” and the culture it breeds focuses on the “why”.  This is a celebration of rising trout and trickery with dry flies.  Opening day on the Ranch tends to be a bit of a social event with some fishing mixed in, so take the time to meet some of the characters involved.  For many of the anglers that travel far and wide to be here for this event, nymph fishing and streamer fishing are a hard “no go”, sight fishing to rising trout is the goal and the point.  With over 2,000 miles of other quality trout water in a 100 mile radius to fish with Last Chance Idaho as the center, there are better places for the nymph and streamer anglers to focus their efforts than these waters, especially in the next couple of weeks.  Part of being a responsible angler is to fish in a way that isn’t to the detriment of those around you.  Remembering to crimp your barbs is yet another part.

We expect to see PMDs, Caddis, perhaps some Green Drakes, Carpenter Ants.  Anglers will do well to come prepared with emergers, cripples, duns, and spinners of all of them except for the woodworker hymenopteras.  Caddis have dominated the hatch scene here recently but cooler weather and cloudy skies are in the forecast, this bodes well for mayflies.  We will be there prepared with some of the following favorites:  PMDs-Harrop’s CDC Thorax, Last Chance Cripple, Comparadun, CDC Transitional Dun, Rusty Paraspinner and Heames’ PMD Klinkhammer in #14-18.  Caddis:  Partridge Caddis, Iron X Caddis, Harrops HF Cadiis in tan and olive in #14-18.  Drakes:  Joe Joe’s Green Drake, Variant Cripple Green Drake, SH Green Drakes #10-12.  Windy conditions are also in the forecast, so spinner falls are likely to be early morning or nonexistent, remember that the more durable caddis and green drakes are happy to emerge in windy conditions, so if you’ve been practicing your reach cast into the wind, you just may be in luck, most anglers out there tend to struggle in winds of over 10 mph.  The forecasted conditions favor anglers who can spot rising trout well and present flies into the wind.  If headed to the Ranch this week, have a plan B destination in mind for dealing with the wind. 

Canyon Country

The Canyon sections of the Henry’s Fork will fish well this week and are good places to hide from strong winds.  If the forecast steers you away from the flat water, the canyons can offer some refuge.  Salmonflies are still around in more sparse numbers but Golden Stones will remain present throughout the month.  Dry Dropper rigs reign supreme here, with the “Chubberlegs” the local favorite (a Chubby Chernobyl dry fly with a Rubberlegs stonefly nymph below).  If this doesn’t work, it’s not hard to go through the litany of smaller bead-headed alternatives.  These sections are a world unto their own and a fine day’s trout fishing is had out there for those seeking a bit more solitude than the other sections might provide, perfect for the misanthropic (thanks, Elizabeth!) anglers out there.

Warm River to Ashton

If you’re new to fly fishing or need to brush up on some skill sets, this would be a great section of water to spend some time in this week.  All classes of rigs will produce results here;  dry flies, dry/droppers, indicator nymph rigs, and streamers will all play at different levels of output.  This is a great section to pursue quality, quantity and fun, depending on which rig you choose.  Dry flies can produce quantities of smaller fish or a few dandies if you happen upon green drakes, nymph rigs will produce more quantity with some nicer fish mixed in, and streamers will produce a few nicer trout.  If the crowds and demanding angling in the other sections of the river don’t appeal to you, or if your group of anglers is a mixed bag of experience, a beautiful float on a splendid day down this section will surely put a smile on the faces of those around you. 

Below Ashton Reservoir

These next couple of weeks are a terrific time to explore the waters below Ashton Reservoir all the way to the confluence with the South Fork of the Snake.  For those adventurous anglers inclined to check out some of the lower river’s more remote sections, now is the time to seek it out.  Some of the best fishing of the year will occur in the next couple of weeks in the lower river sections.  This next week will likely mark the time where we can put the indicator rigs away and exchange them for pure dry flies or dry/dropper rigs.  Fishing opportunities will be present throughout the day and into the evenings for those who wish to fish until dark.  Be on the lookout for Caddis, PMDs, Flavs, Green Drakes, Golden Stones, Olive Stones, and Yellow Sallies.  You will need all life stages and all hatch phases represented in your boxes, so stock up.  We at  Big Sky Anglers spend more on flies at this time of year than any other so that we’re prepared for just about anything that can happen out there. 

A Note on Etiquette

As we approach some of the busiest weeks of the year on the Henry’s Fork, we have to take a little time to consider how to get along out there.  These days there are far more watercraft on the water than there used to be.  In the older days there were more wade anglers out there than boats.  These days, there might be more boats than wade anglers.  If you’re float fishing, yield to the wade angler and give them some room.  If you drop your anchor, take a look back upstream before you pull it and head down river, don’t pull your anchor if another boat is right behind you, instead let them pass and come in behind them, when your anchor is down, you’re parked and pulled over.  Put your blinker on and make sure it’s clear before pulling your anchor to continue.  If you are casting into the same lie with your fly as another angler is, you’re simply too close, no exception here, don’t be that person.  We all expect better behavior from fly fishing anglers.  Pull it in and wait until you clear that anglers’ ecosystem.  Don’t be a selfish angler, we are all out there to have a great time and if you behave in a way that isn’t to the detriment of others’ experience, you’re probably on the right track for a way of thinking.  There are some amazing days of angling ahead of us, let’s all do our part to keep it enjoyable for everyone.  Thank you!

Henry’s Fork Days

This Saturday, coinciding with the Ranch opener, the Henry’s Fork Foundation will host its annual fundraising event at the Log Jam parking lot.  This is a great time and anglers are welcome to come and peruse the auction items, and buy a ticket for dinner.  The Henry’s Fork Foundation is celebrating its 40th year anniversary.  Those of us who love and live on the Henry’s Fork are celebrating these 40 years as well.  The evolution of this organization has been impressive and the list of works completed is impressive.  Our beloved Henry’s Fork is a better trout fishery today than it would be without it, if you enjoy this river, please support this organization.

Get out there and enjoy it!

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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.

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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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