Report 3/27/24

Is spring upon us? Maybe. The white stuff falling out of the sky today says no, and the 28-degree temps in the morning say Spring is not here. However, Mother Nature has been very moody so far. Three Feet of snow one day and then temps up in the 50s the next day. The fishing on the Henrys Fork has been just as moody! Midges and Blue Wings one day and nothing the next. I feel like that’s how the early season goes. The good news is that it’s the 25th of March, and we still have over 100% of our snowpack, and the Island Park Resivior is over 90% full. Hopefully, temps will remain on the low side, and we have a slow melt and a wet April and May. I saw my first robin of the year between St Anthony and Ashton, so regardless of the weather, I believe that Spring is coming.

The fishing reports from the river are varied. Some guys are having excellent fishing, and others are struggling. If you like to play the dry fly game, have your favorite midge pattern and a handful of blue wings with you. If you see fish up actively feeding, pay close attention to the surface. The mayflies will have upright wings that resemble little sailboats, and the midge wing is folded over the back of the insect. Remember, the Spring blue wings are larger than the ones we see in the fall. It’s not uncommon to see size 16 blue wings this time of the year. Ensure your nymph box is stocked with high-quality TroutHunter zebra midges! I would have red, olive, and tan in your box. Number 10 black rubber legs are a must. Consider slow-swinging a streamer and see what happens.

Box Canyon is still snow-packed, but you can walk or snowshoe down to the river, and if you’re feeling energetic, you could drag a raft down. I would be on the lookout for blue wings. I have seen fish eating midges on the top on the right days. The nymph game is much the same: Zebra midges and rubber legs.

The Warm River stretch is always worth a look this time of the year. Putting a boat in will be a challenge, but plenty of wade opportunities exist on this stretch. The jump-off access has yet to be opened to boats, but it is an excellent place to access the river if you are wading. Fly selection this time of the year is the same just about anywhere you want to fish: small bead heads, San Juan worms, and rubber legs. The Trout Spey game includes intruders, leech patterns, and the trusty copper zonker!

Ashton: This stretch of river has been fishing well, and fly selection is the same. All the ramps are currently open; however, that could change anytime, so if the Ora access looks sketchy, you may want to walk it first. Look for blue wings and midges. Remember to get your 2024 invasive species sticker and 2024 fishing license.

You will notice that the rainbows are in the middle of spawning throughout all stretches of the Henrys Fork. Look for the shiny spots in the water. You will see a lot of fish activity on the clean gravel. The activity you are observing is trout reproducing. In a nutshell, these spawning beds are the future of the Henrys Fork. If you have booked a guide trip and your guide has parked you over one of these areas, tied on some glo bugs under a bobber with some split shot, please immediately call the outfitter you have booked the trip with, demand your money back, and call it a day. That may seem a bit extreme, but jerking spawners off beds is lame. Let them spawn in peace. Imagine laying in bed with your significant other, and suddenly, a cheeseburger floats over your head; we all know you’ll eat that burger. Suddenly, you are ripped out of bed, pulled underwater, messed with to the point of death, and then released maybe miles from your home. It’s no different. Instagram is going to function without a hero shot of a spawning trout #quitfishingreds.

I am looking forward to the coming summer. The river has been getting bad press over the last few years. I don’t buy into it! I think anytime you can string up a fly rod and walk along the bank of your favorite stretch of river and find a trout rising, you’re doing pretty damn good! This last summer, I had that experience every time I went fishing. I think any day you have the opportunity to be on the river is a perfect day, but I am a glass-half-full type of guy. I don’t want to get into all the politics and finger-pointing and start a considerable back-and-forth, but if you think the river is too crowded and don’t like your Henrys Fork experience anymore, then stay home and let the non bitching folks have a crack at it. By the way, I admit I am part of the overcrowding problem.

Don’t get me wrong, there are issues on the river that need to be addressed. I like hearing the different opinions on what we can do to help, and I have donated my time to help. The world has no perfect organization, but I am thankful for the Henrys Fork Foundation and all its work for the river. While I have been critical of them in the past, I think they are doing a largely excellent job. Lastly, we can put our egos away and maybe listen to one another. I like to listen to the “old guys.” Listening instead of talking is a great way to learn. I have learned that this river has faced many challenges over the years. It’s been good for some years and terrible for others. The great thing is that when the river faced trouble in the past, many people came together to help. Let’s all get together and try to be nice. Why not? I don’t care if you have been fishing the river when Brontosaurus were grazing in Millionaire’s pool or you’re just getting into fly fishing. We can all find common ground.


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