Fly fishing gear

Anglers crowd the cliffs for the opening weekend of the Henrys Lake fishing season

Alton Hansen of Rexburg with an eight pounder caught on opening day at Henrys Lake. | Bill Schiess,

“The fishing on opening day was fantastic near the cliffs and the five of us caught a lot of fish,” said Mike Bruton of Rexburg. “We had finished at 9:30 am with an eight pound and a seven pound, both captured by Alton (Hansen), the rest of us hitting our four pound limits.”

Another family group fished the cliffs on the opener with a single fish from there, but then moved on to the area via the boat launch at Henrys Lake State Park, where they took caught their fish.

Monday was another story. Some of those who struggled to catch fish on Saturday were very lucky on Monday and vice versa.

“We had a tough time on Monday,” said Bruton. “We only had two small fish on the cliffs and had to come out in the middle to finally catch our limit with no big ones.”

On Monday, the boats had cleared up due to the snow hatch and slow fishing for some fishermen. | Bill Schiess,

This is what fishing looks like at the start of the season on Henrys Lake. The fish usually change very quickly and with good weather the dreaded snow fly outbreak began in earnest on Monday. When the hatching begins, the fish force-feed themselves on larvae as the insects come out of the bottom of the lake.

Meanwhile, fishermen struggle to breathe without finding the billions of insects finding human nostrils or open mouths.

“The hatch is working really well right now,” said Mike Wilson, owner of Drift Lodge tackle store on Thursday. “But some anglers are still finding fish ready to play because we saw a 14 and a 16 pound caught this week.”

The snow fly hatch usually begins around June 10 and lasts 10 days. It’s a miserable time for fishermen because they coat everything. The fish love them and become so full that when caught, the eaten insects will be thrown upwards or a thick black slime will be relieved on the fishermen or the boat. The hatch also coincides with slow fishing, so by the Monday after opening, fewer boats were on the famous lake.

“Bait and lure anglers are outperforming fly anglers,” Wilson commented. “Panther marten for equipment fishermen and sucker meat for those who use bait seem to be the best. Anglers using flies find electric black and purple showgirls, both black flies, to be best for them. Fly fishermen who use indicators with small chironomids are also successful. “

The fish were piled up at the Frome County Boat dock to the west and Henrys Lake State Park last week, but the fish scattered. Some of the best fishing is in the Hybid Holes near the middle of the lake where the aquatic weeds have started to grow.

As schools of weeds grow in water 12 to 18 feet deep, fish congregate alongside growing weeds to cover and feed. With the snow fly outbreak likely ending on June 9 or 10, fishing success will increase with fly fishermen succeeding with green and olive flies.

There have been a few dandy fish caught during opening week and it will be a great year for anyone looking for a trophy fish to hang on their wall. Good luck to all who venture onto Henrys Lake and watch out for the wind. It can be fatal.

But remember, there is a reason this activity is called “fishing” and not “catching”.

Fishermen crowded along the shore near the cliffs for the opening weekend of the Henrys Lake fishing season. | Bill Schiess,

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