Flies, Friends, and the Henry's Fork
Teton Valley is as centrally located as a fly fisher can get. From my home in Victor, Idaho, I can reach Wyoming’s Snake River in a half hour. The South Fork of the Snake is only 20 minutes to the west. The Teton River flows less than ten minutes from my driveway. The Green, New Fork, Salt, Madison, and Yellowstone National Park are all within a two hour drive. But just 45 minutes to the north is another stream that has a history that outmatches them all. This river is the Henry’s Fork.
The Henry’s was already established as renowned fishery well over a century ago. The names that come from the watershed – Henry’s Lake, Harriman Ranch, Mesa Falls – dazzle the minds of many anglers. Growing up in Jackson Hole, getting to the Henry’s Fork was always a bit of a reach. It was a little too far away for a newly licensed teenager with a beat up dodge and surrounded by other great waters. And it always seemed esteemed and, in a way, mystic, with all the names and patterns that have been made there. But that is what makes it great. Even today, the most I can get up to the Henry’s in a year might be a half dozen times.
But there are memories up there. My largest rainbow ever came during the salmon fly emergence above Hatchery Ford. I recall heavy blankets of caddis in May below the Warm River confluence and in Box Canyon on several occasions in May. And one of the most satisfying days I ever had was coming away fishless on Harriman’s casting to three large bows for a solid five hours.
When I have a day off (rare) and I get a call from a friend to hit the Henry’s Fork, It is hard to pass up. That is what happened a few days ago when my friend Tim Brune (who I probably fish with more than anything else) asked me to join him in his Adipose Skiff. Sweetening the deal was the fact that we would be joined by Jeff Currier. Jeff is a friend of mine who I have fished with several times over the years. He is also one of the most well-known fly fishers in the world. Currier was the first American to medal in the World Fly Fishing Championships and has probably caught more species on the fly than any other man or woman on the planet. He makes his money traveling the world as an ambassador for Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures (who yours truly hosts destination trips to various locales) and giving talks and presentations all over the U.S. When I am free and I get a chance to fish with Jeff, I take it.
The bonus with this outing was that the weather was the best it had been in a couple of weeks. In fact, it was the first day in the 50s since December. We hit the lower river, floating from Ora Bridge down to Chester. Midges dominated the morning but were overshadowed by blue-winged olive by noon and for the rest of the day. This brought the fish to the surface in the slow water runs at the tail of riffles and a fun day with BWO emergers and parachute patterns. By no means did we slay the fish, but it was certainly a fun day.
The highlights? One for sure was watching Brune hook into a bruiser that he landed after after breaking his rod during the fight. Another was Currier getting into several fish in one pool including a 13” brookie (a rarity on most streams in the region). As for me I got into only three fish total during the day. But in my defense, I was fucking around a lot - testing a new Aqualux sinking line for a solid hour, tossing a 3wt for the rest of the day, and manning the oars to master Brune’s Adipose (which is a fine boat to both row and fish from).
Last year I got up to the Henry’s Fork a grand total of two times. I am going to try my damnedest to try and double that number this. But life and guiding and fishing for species other that trout always intervenes. So we will see.