You have more than likely heard of the ”duffers fortnight” on English chalk streams, where mayflies hatch out in their thousands and even the most hopeless fly fisherman can catch trout in a feeding frenzy… Well over in America they have something even better – the salmon fly hatch! Veteran pro-guide and fishing author Rene Harrop tells us a little about it.
Seldom have I experienced a stronger sense of being at the right place at the right time than during a recent float trip with my river guide grandson and his client, Kevin Despain. There is nothing unusual about waiting for another boat to launch ahead of you when the objective is to catch the giant Salmon Fly hatch on the Henry’s Fork. But when you are following three of Idaho’s best fish biologists who care carrying the same intent, it is impossible not to feel some optimism.
As the guest of a paying client who probably doesn’t really need a guide, I enjoyed one of the finest days of fly fishing with big size 4 dries to be experienced in more than a decade. When the count of fish landed becomes lost well before the float is finished, you know the day is something special.
Despite losing several exceptional browns and rainbows, the average size was more than acceptable with a dozen or more in the 18-20 inch range. And to illustrate the significance of timing, another float on the same water a few days later yielded no more than 4 trout each for 3 anglers.
For at least 2 weeks each year, the Salmon Fly hatch is an irresistible distraction as it progresses to higher elevation up stream. On the Henry’s Fork this is a distance of about 40 miles and involves the faster, rock strewn sections of the river.
For some of extreme weakness for the big flies and the action they can induce, the Salmon Fly hatch can be extended to other waters like the South Fork of the Snake, or the Madison and Big Hole in Montana. An older angler, however, is more likely to seek the gentle flows and lighter fishing tackle that come with Green, Brown, and Gray Drakes. On the Henry’s Fork, these big mayflies fall directly on the heels of the Salmon Fly hatch and with correct timing, the fishing can be just as spectacular.
Rene’ Harrop – June 2015