We’re back on the Madison River after finishing 9 days fly fishing the Henry’s Fork. I hope you read last week’s post about Fly Fishing the Henry’s Fork Brown and Green Drake Hatches. To say we had a great time is an understatement!

Henry's Fork J & K | www.johnkreft.com

As I mentioned in last week’s post, we haven’t fished the Henry’s Fork very much. I’m very happy my wife said we needed to go check it out. We met several people while fly fishing. A few friendly locals provided the landmarks for us…

The Billboard – the billboard is just upstream from Trouthunters Fly Shop in Last Chance, ID. I’m taking the picture looking downstream.

Henry's Fork Billboard | www.johnkreft.com

Here’s what it looks like across and down from the billboard.

Henry's Fork Crowd | www.johnkreft.com

If you look closely, there are many more gulls than fly fishers. I think they are Franklin Gulls and they swept over the river eating Green Drakes floating on the surface. One even picked up my fly! Perhaps that’s why we did better with emerger fly patterns than our normal Sparkle Dun.

This is a shot of the water we fished above the billboard.

Henry's Fork Above Billboard | www.johnkreft.com

The Mailbox – it’s located on the main highway and marks the one mile dirt road we walked to get to the river. It’s one way to get to the lower end of the Railroad Ranch.

Mailbox - Harriman Ranch | www.johnkreft.com

The water – it’s slow-moving, more like fishing a lake. We searched for fish rising to Green Drakes.

Sight Fishing Green Drake Hatch on Lower Harriman Railroad Ranch | www.johnkreft.com

Waiting for rising fish

Henry's Fork Waiting for Rising Trout | www.johnkreft.com

…and it worked!

Henry's Fork Rainbow on Harriman's Ranch | www.johnkreft.com

The Overlook – it’s at the upper end of the Harrriman Ranch, just downstream from Last Chance. Across the river is the “log jam”, another landmark.

Henry's Fork Rainbow at Herriman Overlook | www.johnkreft.com

Those were the major landmarks we learned about in the section of river we concentrated on.

The fish on the Henry’s Fork are amazing. I was surprised where they layed and how willing they were to rise for our flies…at times. We found them in very shallow water. Much of the river around the billboard is shallow. Many anglers easily waded across to fish the other side.

Here is Karen playing a beautiful Rainbow Trout.

Henry's Fork Hook-up | www.johnkreft.com
Henry's Fork Rainbow After Hook-up | www.johnkreft.com

We were lucky to land some very nice fish.

Henry's Fork Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com
Henry's Fork Double | www.johnkreft.com
Henry's Fork Rainbow Trout | www.johnkreft.com
John with Henry's Fork Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com
Rainbow - Henry's Fork | www.johnkreft.com
Henry's Fork Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

I’d like to share a quick story of a fish I ended up landing.

I was casting during a strong wind and waded out to a run I hoped to catch some fish. I did land a fish or two and moved others to my fly.

As I headed back to shore, I placed a few casts in likely holding lies. While doing this, I heard a large splash close to me. I thought, “what was that?” I looked just below where I was standing and to my astonishment, here was a trout less than two feet away. Aren’t trout wary of anglers? Not this one!

What should I do? You’re right, see if I could catch it.

I lifted my rod with only the leader emerging from the tip, but the wind was blowing so hard, the fly landed 7 or 8 feet away. What else could I do?

Yup, grab the leader and dab it in the water. That’s exactly what I did and in fact, the fish rose to my fly. I set the hook with leader in hand and let go to see if the fish was still attached while I tried to take the slack out of my line.

The fish ran, taking line from my reel.

But I ended up landing the fish! Not the best fish image, but I managed to take a quick snap before this fat 18 inch Rainbow Trout slipped out of my hand.

I’ll remember this fish for some time!

Henry's Fork | www.johnkreft.com

How about some bugs…you know I enjoy taking closeups?

Brown Drakes

Henry's Fork Brown Drakes | www.johnkreft.com
Brown Drake on Water | www.johnkreft.com

Green Drakes

Henry's Fork Green Drake | www.johnkreft.com

And a female Green Drake with an egg sac…first I’ve seen.

Green Drake Female with Egg Sac | www.johnkreft.com
Green Drake Egg Sac | www.johnkreft.com

Another small mayfly spinner.

Henry's Fork Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

This was the most-used way we saw of fly fishers getting to a section on the Ranch.

Biking to Fish on Harriman Ranch | www.johnkreft.com

Rather unique, isn’t it?

Bike Riding on Henry's Fork | www.johnkreft.com

And the scenery was spectacular…

Henry's Fork Clouds | www.johnkreft.com

We found beautiful sunsets.

Henry's Fork Sunset | www.johnkreft.com

A pelican

Pelican Flying on Henry's Fork | www.johnkreft.com

Working hard on the river, making notes for this post.

Writing Post on Henry's Fork | www.johnkreft.com

Lastly, here are a few notes I’ll be sure to check the next time I plan to fish the Henry’s Fork.

Water levels changed dramatically.

Henry's Fork Water Level 2 - June 2021 | www.johnkreft.com
Henry's Fork Water Level 2 - June 2021 | www.johnkreft.com

Flies we used with success

The fish seem willing to rise, but a drag-free drift is imperative. We used 4X tippet while fishing the Henry’s Fork.

If you are looking for a Zen fly fishing experience, this isn’t a place to fish. See the crowd image above.

Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!

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  1. Another great post!

    Great to see that this famous Blue Ribbon fishery has held up when some others have not. I recall some time ago there were problems with low winter flows and scour ice if I remember correctly. It would seem this has been corrected.

    Regarding the Green Drakes. The Metolius and upper McKenzie are classic GD habitat. Isn’t it odd that the GD’s inhabit that Henry’s Fork slow, low gradient habitat? Brown Drakes for sure but so surprising that the Green Drakes are found there.

    1. Hi Gary

      Yes, the Henry’s Fork has seen some difficulties in the recent past. Talking with a few we met that week, they too talked about de-watering and scouring actions. Happens a lot where the dams are controlled by water users downstream.

      I too was surprised at where we found Green Drakes in specific sections of the river. Nevertheless, we enjoyed waiting for the rises!



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