Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Trouthunter Guide Looks Back at 2015 On the Ranch

Trouthunter guide John McDaniel has posted a detailed overview of the fishing on the Ranch Section of the Henry's Fork in 2015. It's fascinating reading.

This is how he describes the Mid-Summer season. That's the time my brother John and I showed up on those fabled banks. We were there together from July 19 to 24, and I was there on my own on July 27 and 28.

The mid-summer fishing was a disaster.  Early in the period we had some decent Flav dun fishing, but even that was not up to the standards of the last few years.  Increased flows began about 7 July and continued for almost three weeks.  What was particularly disturbing was that, for the first time, we had significantly discolored water accompanying the high water.  The original flow increases were from 1400 to 1800 c.f.s. 
The worst of the high flows occurred between 21 and 24 July when the "flushing” of a downriver dam resulted in flows of 2200 cfs and above.  The fishing was essentially non-existent.  I was proud that TroutHunter suggested that clients cancel, or postpone, trips during the period.  
My first productive day of fishing after the high flows was 26 July when clients hooked several nice fish on Calibaetis spinners.  So, we had essentially 21 days of flows that destroyed our fishing.  One angler with extensive fly fishing experience suggested the economic costs of the high flows to the recreational businesses in Island Park may have been $100,000.00 a day.
To put the difficulty of the Mid Summer in perspective, I had 8 days, when neither my clients nor I landed a fish.

Tell me about it.
Choosing the best time for a trip to one of our sport's holy sites is always a crap shoot, but I'd say we really crapped out this time. I was at least fortunate enough to be there for two brief days as the PMD's popped again and the fishing began to pick up for a much better Late Summer season.

Those were two good days. But that Late Summer season? It was much better.

If you've ever fished the Ranch, and especially if you've ever hit the Honey Ant Jackpot, you will be interested to know that Late Summer was a good time for Honey Ants. McDaniel says there were three times when the ants fell three days in a row. Ka-ching.

Why couldn't we have been there then? August, and even September, used to be our preferred window. Well, you know how it goes: July made sense at the time, and fit all our other schedule demands. So you pays your money and you takes your chances.

But I'm going to go over McDaniel's report again. I'll be looking for clues, trends--a system--that can help me hit it right the next time I roll the dice on the Ranch.

Read McDaniel's report HERE.

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