Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park


Henry's Fork of the Snake River

Knowing exactly where to start and where to end when writing about the Henry's Fork
of the Snake River is a problem for me. First of all, my guess is that if anyone had
spent their entire life fishing the varied waters of this river, I doubt they would know a
lot about what is going on at any one time and place. It is not only the wide variation in
the types of water that makes up this river, it is also the changes that constantly take
place. There is a lot going on at any point in time that could, and usually does, alter the
conditions hour by hour and year after year.

I have spent many days at several different locations on the river during the past ten
years. That is just enough time spent there to know that I haven't even begun to
become familiar with the river. I would say that I am still in the tenth grade towards
getting my PhD on the river. If any of you (and I hope all of your) have seen any of my
DVD on fly fishing or my website, you would know that I use the
slogan "Get Your PhD in Fly Fishing". That is not my slogan. I only borrow it. Let me

One day after fishing the river at the famous Railroad Ranch, I stopped by
Bud Lilly's
Fly Shop in West Yellowstone and was discussing comment made to me that day with
Dick Greene. I explained to him that Angie and I was getting our waders on in the
parking lot at the Ranch when two guys pulled up next to us. I ask them the standard
"how the fishing was" question and they replied that it was great on the Madison River.
They continued to explain that they had caught huge numbers of large rainbows below
Hebgen during the salmonfly hatch currently taking place. They even said that it was
the best they had ever seen it in their last twenty years of fishing the Yellowstone area.
We were aware of the good fishing on the Madison because that is where we had
fished for the previous two weeks, although our experience had varied from excellent to
poor. I could not help but ask them a simple question. "If the fishing is that great on the
Madison, why did you come over here on the Henry's Fork", I asked. They answered by
explaining that they had rather catch one rainbow trout on the Henry's Fork than twenty
on the Madison River.

Let me get back to the Fly Shop that afternoon. I told that story to Dick Greene. He
explained that in order to catch trout on the Henry's Fork you needed a "PhD in trout
fishing". He continued to explain that it was the
challenge of catching the large
rainbows on the Henry's Fork that those guys preferred to just catching trout at other
places where it was not so difficult to do so.

To be honest, I understood exactly what they meant. I just wanted Dick's opinion and
advice about the Henry's Fork. What I didn't know was the long term consequences of
his explanation. That night in our motel room, I wrote the slogan down in my notebook
and I have used it ever since. After all, those guys were exactly right. It is the
"challenge" that makes fly fishing for trout the great sport it is. In fact, that is what
makes any type of fishing a great sport. I knew that very well. I had fished for blue
marlin many, many days all over the Western Hemisphere, studying the seas, altering
the lures riding the waves, waiting and counting on a few minutes of the thrill of a

I'll get back to the Henry's Fork tomorrow.  

Copyright 2008 James Marsh     
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