Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
|.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
Henry's Fork of the Snake River - Part Two
The Henry's Fork of the Snake River starts at Big Springs. My favorite tactic is to fish
from the observation bridge with live bait. I have caught a lot of trout.........I'm kidding. I
only dream of casting there and I wouldn't use live bait if I was allowed to fish there. Big
Springs is the upper major source of water for Henry's Fork and in most knowledgeable
minds, a very, very important one because it is spring water.
Just below the outlet from Big Springs, Henry's Fork receives water from Henry's Lake
through Henry's Lake Outlet, a relatively small stream. By the way, there are also a few
creeks that add some water to the outlet. Henry's Lake isn't exactly a secret destination
and for many still water trout anglers, that is enough said. If I knew what I was doing, I
could write a book about the trout fishing in that one lake. I have seen it a few times but
never as much as cast in it. It holds some huge trout and is a very popular lake. Some
guys I know from the East, make annual, lengthy trip to Idaho just to fish that lake.
Now you would think from what I have said that Henry's Lake and Big Springs (mainly)
furnishes the water for the Henry's Fork and it does to a large extent, but it is only the
starting point of this great river. There is another major lake, springs galore, and
several rivers of different types, that make up the river. That is the foundation of what
starts the complications - I mean diversity of this river.
For nine miles or so below Big Springs, and nearby Mack's Inn, the river flows South to
where it runs into Island Park Reservoir. Island Park Reservoir has its fair share of
large trout, but again, I have only seen it. I haven't as much as cast to one of its huge
trout. The river is changed a huge amount at this point because it becomes a lake.
Below the Island Park Reservoir, the river depends on the water that flows through the
dam. It doesn't get very far before the Buffalo River adds another small dose of spring
Just below that, the river goes into a huge transition referred to as the "Box Canyon". I
could blindfold anyone that hasn't been there and they would think they were fishing
the best pocket water a freestone stream could offer. This is a very popular, three mile
long section of the river that has some huge rainbow trout. During the spring runoff
and during the mid summer irrigation water demand period, the current is strong and
fast. Wading is dangerous during those periods of time. The only way to fish it then is
by drift boat and then, I would want an experienced guy on the oars.
At other times when the water is not swift and dangerous, it is feasible to wade the river
in the box canyon. Fishing can be great but you will probably need to use nymphs or
streamers most of the time. Fish can be taken during some hatches that occur there
but most often, during the low water periods of time, you will need to fish a nymph or
I'll pick back up here tomorrow.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh
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