Henry’s Fork River by Jonathan Heames
Island Park Dam: 159 cfs
Ashton Dam: 756 cfs
St. Anthony: 801 cfs
Fall River: 388 cfs
The Henry’s Fork is holding up nicely, though the flows are low, as is typical of this time of year. Outflow from Island Park has been decreasing in order to increase water storage and will remain this way until the thermometer bottoms out. In the foreseeable future, expect low flows river-wide, with good fishing opportunities. The peak hours of activity throughout the system are 10-3, with the greatest amount of hatch activity during this timeframe. The weather forecast looks like a fine fall fishing forecast, but be sure to pack your beanie hats and fingerless gloves this coming week!
Box Canyon: It remains a very bumpy and slow option to float the Box Canyon, but it can be done with care and by walking your boat through some of the more shallow reaches. Expect to find spotty but good fishing. This is a great time of year and these are great flows for a wade fishing endeavor down here. Bring your wading staff, as the square boulders are perfectly designed to trip wade anglers. Nymphs and streamers will provide the best action, the former fished on shallow rigs or dry/dropper style and the latter best fished on floating lines with a weighted fly. They’re still eating red and brown Zebra Midges 16-20, beaded and non-beaded PTs 16-20, small stonefly nymphs 8-12, and your favorite perdigons 16-20 (Olive Hot Spots, Duracells, Spanish Bullets, and Jake’s Soft Hackle are some of our favorites). For streamers, try a black or olive BSA Bouface Leech, olive/black or white BFE, Copper Zonkers.
Railroad Ranch: Though low and weedy, the Ranch fishes well in October with these flows. During hatch periods, you can find lots of trout rising, the real difficulty lies in differentiating small fish from large fish. Be on the lookout for the unmistakable signs like the slurping sound of a large trout, fins that become visible and indicate the size of the trout they’re attached to, heavy but slow pushes of water, noses, roaming feeding patterns, etc. It often requires using all senses to determine whether or not the trout you’re scoping out is a prize specimen or not. When in doubt, take a shot, you’ll find the small trout are great practice as they also require a careful presentation. This is a fun time for anglers of all skill levels to take a walk along these hallowed waters, with lots of rising trout around most foiks can find something to fish to and practice their approach. Small bugs are the name of the game now: baetis 18-20, pseudos 18-22, and mahoganies 16-18 are all on the menu, so bring emerger, adult and spinner versions of each. Cloudy days will delay the hatch but will help increase its longevity and intensity. Sunny days will keep things sparse but game is there to be found for those who search it out.
Canyon Country: Though a beautiful place to spend an October day, the forecast makes this option less than ideal. Low flows make for a full day endeavor in here, so be prepared with plenty of layers and don’t get too late a start if you’re headed down this way.
Warm River to Ashton: This section is a fair bet most days, with good nymph, dry/dropper, and streamer options, something for everyone. Start with the same suggested selection for the Box Canyon and go from there. Browns on their annual journey are changing locations every day at the moment, so surprises can show up anywhere, be sure you’re tackled up to handle a larger trout if you happen to hook one up.
Below Ashton Dam: Decent fishing to be had down here, but a little foul weather will help liven things up and increase the intensity and duration of the hatch periods. It will also delay the bugs, on a cold and nasty day you might not see significant bugs until 2pm, so don’t give up early. Mornings are generally fished wet with streamers on floating lines, dry/dropping or fishing shallow nymph rigs. Water temps are cold and the river has good fishing opportunities throughout its length to its confluence with the South Fork. You are likely to begin to encounter spawning brown trout in some areas, be sure to give them the same respect you might expect in your own bedroom and let them do their thing, careful not to trample spawning beds (redds).
Embrace the forecast and enjoy!