Monday, September 24, 2018

The Henry's Fork: Days 1 - 3

We're home safe and sound and the trip to the Henry's Fork is now a memory--and lots of photos. Time to be processing those.

What we call the Back Channel was our primary destination on the river. We'd get there early so John could walk the banks on his never-ending mission to scout for the rises of big fish.

Like clockwork the Tricos would pop and festoon the shoreline. In addition, Callibaetis were soon swooping up and down over the water, and a few Mahogany duns showed. We were especially happy to see some cinnamon ants on the water that first morning. Sometimes referred to as "trout candy" they are usually a harbinger of very good fishing.

Once the bugs showed up it was time to wade out to meet the fish who were meeting the duns on the water. Many smaller fish were constantly active, so you had to look hard to discern the heavier rises in their midst.

I tended to haunt this grassy bank where I have had success in the past.

That's where I found this lovely fish on our first full day on the water. It seemed like such a promising beginning. It simply popped up within easy casting range and happily took the cinnamon ant I offered.

Incidentally, my brother the wildlife biologist and all-around naturalist, identified the growth on that bank as sedge, not grass. So we tried calling it the "Sedge Edge" for awhile, but I soon reverted to the somehow more pleasing "Grassy Bank."  

This is where we would cross over to the island that forms the Back Channel. It's a historic site for us, the first place we laid eyes on the Henry's Fork and entered its salubrious waters. And it's the place we met "Miss Missouri," a young and comely woman from Missouri fly fishing the Henry's Fork back when female fly fishers were rare. We sometimes call it the Miss Missouri Pool in her honor. It was a prime location in those early days. I remember evenings when big fish would smack a caddis dun over along that far bank and quickly outstrip the reel in a breakneck run. We checked it carefully with each crossing for signs that it may have returned to its former glory. Not yet.

On the third day we went to another favorite spot, the Last Chance stretch downstream from the famous observation deck. John loved to prowl the banks for "bank sippers," large hungry fish rising steadily in one prime food-producing spot. He found some to cast to but did not find a hook up.

I looked but did not find any so took opportunities to become a "bank sipper" myself.

We spent the morning there on that third day then went back over to the Back Channel.

Later we came back to the Last Chance stretch, this time upriver from the observation deck. We might be in the city limits of Last Chance there.

All these locations have good memories of good fishing. One afternoon three years ago after a blizzard PMD hatch I found a fish actively rising in the riffle behind this rock. It was one of those big fish you sometimes find methodically mopping up after the chaos of the hatch is over. I hooked him and he was a heavy fish. He quickly bested me. This time the riffle was empty.

We stayed until the sun went down.

I caught a handful of "pleeps" on a swung soft hackle.

We were alert for a caddis hatch but were at the wrong place apparently. So we spoke the mantra of early fishing trips fully believing in its conjuring power: "Maybe tomorrow."

1 comment:

  1. Jim
    Some fishing trips are worth the effort put in and this one proved just that. Congrats on a great trip and thanks for sharing