Yesterday was a perfectly wonderful day.  I hit the road early to make the hundred plus mile drive to the Henry's Fork.  We'd had a few cool wet days this week with snow in the high country. This would be the first "improving" day with some sunshine and warming temperatures.  I got to Last Chance a little after eight.  Low clouds and fog hung over the river.  There was no hurry to get going, the bugs would take their time today.  I piddled around, poured a cup of coffee, got my gear together, eventually pulled on waders and prepared for a long exploratory walk.  Across the river, coyotes howled, then a bull elk bugled.  Meanwhile, various waterfowl did their thing, honking, quacking, flying up and down the river.

The clouds would be slow to depart but added immensely to the now autumn sky. The distant Tetons gradually appeared as the clouds lifted. Mostly, I reveled in the sounds and scenery. There was no wind either!  This was the first day that I'd wear my silk long johns.  Light fleece wading pants too.

Of course,  I hoped for some sort of hatch.  I dearly hoped for something big that I could see, like a mahogany dun.   There would be no such luck.  I eventually got blue winged olives, zillions of them. Now how was a fish, a smart fish, supposed to select my crappily tied imitation from among all of the  real ones floating by?  There must have been fifty real blue winged olives per square foot.  No kidding.  Add my fly and it would make fifty-one.

Regardless, the day passed much too quickly.  I stalked fish, fought weeds.  When I finally found a suitable, approachable fish, I cast futilely and without reward.  Late in the afternoon a fish ate my fly.  I promptly broke it off.

I thought about calling it good, but the day just kept getting better.  More blue sky, better light.  I took  more photos and laughed to myself about my predicament of having a fly hatch that consisted of too many bugs.  Then I found another fish that entertained me by busily gulping baetis.  He didn't want anything I offered.  Then he took off upstream, gulping bugs as he went.  I got out of the water, got ahead of him.  I was ready.  Here he comes!  I couldn't get the blasted fly unhooked from the guides.  When I did, no fish.

Much later, now evening, while walking back to the car, I noticed a half dozen fish rising.  These were the real deal, big ones.  I squinted while staring at the waters surface.  Should I?  A big dorsal fin sliced through the surface.  Why yes, I think I should.  So I re-rigged.  A small parachute, which I couldn't see, followed by a smaller floating CDC nymph.  They didn't want it. Mr. Big Dorsal appeared again.  I swapped the floating nymph with a size 22 dun.  I for sure couldn't see it, I hoped the fish could.  No matter, they didn't want it either.  Then the sun went down.   Game over.

And so, I got skunked on the Henry's Fork, for the second time in two weeks.  Another day wasted?  Heck no, it was spent  perfectly!  In another twenty or thirty years, I may get this fly fishing thing figured out.  Maybe I'll even catch one!


Bill Trussell said…
Days like you just experienced on the Henry Fork is what fascinates me about fly fishing; I only wish I had started the sport when I was younger, now I am having to make up for loss time, really fast!
Great Post!
rivertoprambles said…
The Henry's Fork is a tough game this time of year. So they say, and I'd like to believe it 'cause I was skunked there in the merry month of August, and I'm glad I'm not the only one to be so humbled. Ah, but the sights and the sounds and, as you say, the 50 bwos per square foot!
Lester Kish said…
Bill, it really is a fascinating game. I'm still learning too, albeit slowly.
Lester Kish said…
Well Walt, the Henry's Fork is a fun place to play isn't it? And the bugs can really be something. I haven't spent any time on the river during the summer when all of the "big" hatches come off. That must really be something.
Anonymous said…
Les|: Nice post and great pics. Like the river shots with all those clouds. I'm sure the day went quick esp when the bugs arrived. We all want hatches and then when we get a blanket hatch, well, things get crazy trying to get one to eat our fly...and curse there being so, so many bugs. I usually get unravelled, then eventually accept the situation. When I "surrender" i calm down and the day becomes pleasant or no fish. Sounds like you had a great day and you have reason to go back. Only fished the Fork once. Hope when I have more free time I can make some extended trips there. Beautiful water. Sometimes when there is a blanket hatch and I'm going nowhere with the fish, I walk around looking for a riser/feeder that is in a location with fewer bugs passing overhead. On the Mo some side channels offer this; sometimes; of course often this doesn't even help. Couple of questions:Do you ever tie some of your smaller patterns with black wing or post such as on parachute for better visibility in glare, low light? And, do you find the Fork more difficult than your neighbourhood, highly fished, spring creeks? Again, great post.
Lester Kish said…
Thanks for commenting Bob. It was a great day for cloud watching. Since I've taken to packing lunch and water, its easy to spend an entire day without having to go back to the car. If anything interesting is happening the day really goes by quickly.

I need to tie a few dark posted flies. Can you track them better? I've found that if I can't see the dimple that a fly makes when it hits the water that I can't find and follow it, regardless of size.

I've only fished the Henry's Fork a couple of times, but yes, its far more difficult fishing than the local spring creeks. I think the fish are harder to approach. I've become so conscious about not showing the fish my line and leader that my casting has gone to hell.
Anonymous said…
Yes a black post or wing is quite visible in glare...easy to track.
Jim said…
Love all your posts. Just found your site, and seems we have some very similar interests/places/favorite flies. Henry's is my favorite of them all. Brush on the Frogs Fanny for cdc and all your other dries. I cut the fibers on the brush short so that I can work-in the dust. Jim Williams.
Lester Kish said…
Hey Jim, thanks for stopping by. We do frequent some common locales. Looks like you've had a some good days on the "Fork". I'd hoped to make it back this fall but got sidetracked chasing steelhead.

Great idea about cutting the fibers on the Frogs Fanny brush. It seems that brush holds about half of the powder in the bottle. So, its easy to go through the stuff.

Checked your blog, great stuff, will be back. Take care