The Season, So Far – mid July

Jul 22, 2015

This season is off to a great start.!!  Here’s a short report on the season, so far, based on reports from guides and guests and supplemented by some personal experiences.

The season started earlier than usual and has been about two weeks ahead of normal years.  As usual, the salmonflies were the first major hatch on the Henry’s Fork and were hatching before the Memorial Day opener.   All the other hatches followed in sequence and all seemed to be a few weeks early.

The lower river saw golden stones and caddis at the start of the season, along with green drakes.  Warm weather and fairly low flows in early season combined to shorten the hatches and also to eventually cause them to appear mostly early and late in the day when air and water were coolest.

On the upper river, the biggest news was a strong green drake hatch.  Swarms of gulls circling and dipping down signaled the emerging green drakes for an extended period in late June.  The river right in Last Chance was one of the prime spots, as the dozens of parked cars attested.  Despite the high number of anglers, the fishing was excellent with very good numbers of fish rising each morning.  Evening fishing with brown drakes was, by contrast, disappointing, a hit-or-miss pattern of rising fish depending on the day or the specific spot.

Now the fishing will depend on the morning hatches of PMD’s and the late afternoon flav mayflies, along with terrestrial bugs.

Anglers going to the South Fork virtually all came back raving about the great fishing, again earlier in the season the usual.  Salmonflies, green drakes, and other smaller flies were the highlights and provided some outstanding dry fly fishing in wadeable gravel shallows.  Big browns and cutthroats were the rule, and we saw photographic proof every night in the River Room!

The lower Madison was much lower than usual due to some dam repair issues, but the fishing was fantastic, according to all reports.  Dry fly fishing in particular was especially good with the low water making wading access easier and giving the fish a closer look at the fly.  As the weeks went by, the river levels were raised, which was beneficial because the daytime heat caused the fishing to concentrate in the mornings and evenings

Hebgen Lake was off to an early, but somewhat erratic start with some days and places good and then not so good on the following day.  This is about the time when the fishing becomes more consistent, so we should see good fishing in the weeks to come.

How about those weeks to come?  What good does looking back do us?

•Everything is around 2-3 weeks early, so expect the fishing to be somewhat different from what you’re used to at a given time of year.  Be flexible.

•Higher and earlier temperatures are detrimental to summer fishing.  We are fortunate to be on a spring-fed stream with cooler water and in an area with many waters to choose from.  Many Montana streams are already on highly restricted fishing hours.  Guides and shops (and we) will have the latest intel on the water and fishing conditions.

•Water temps are best and fish most active in the cool of the morning and evening.  Get out early, take a rest in the afternoon and go out again in the evening.

•Even on the Henry’s Fork, the fishing can be quite localized, so expect to move around to find fish, whether with a guide or on your own.  The springs feeding the Henry’s Fork along Wood Road 16 keep the water cooler down to the Lodge, so fishing in that stretch is likely to be better than elsewhere on the Ranch

•Once again, be flexible, be mobile and willing to move.  Our area is all about options.