Last weekend my friend Jared Stein and I hit the stonefly hatch on the Henry’s Fork’s Cardiac Canyon. Somehow we were blessed to dodge the thunderstorms that were rolling through the area and were able to have a decent day of fishing. The stonefly hatch was almost at its end in the Cardiac Canyon section but we were still able to catch a few hungry trout. I caught two brown trout in the 18-20″ range and some rainbows in the 15-16″ range. Jared landed a nice brown in the 20″ range along with some rainbows in the 16″ range. We didn’t get into any monsters but the brown trout put up a pretty good fight.
There were quite a few boats that were floating the river but they respectfully stayed on the far side of the river. The boat “ramp” (if you want to call it that) to access Cardiac Canyon is about 1/4 mile drop down a very steep incline so I was surprised to see so many boats on the river. The stonefly hatch motivates fisherman to brave even the most difficult conditions.
I gutted one of the brown trout and checked the contents of its stomach and found it full of adult stonefly nymphs (probably 15-20) and also 2 sculpin. Yes, this brown trout not only was gorging on stoneflies but was also eating other fish in between stonefly meals. It also had what appeared to be crane fly larvae in its stomach. Small crane flies were hatching early in the day. If you fish this section of the river after the stonefly hatch, you may want to bring some muddler minnows and a sinking line to try and catch the larger brown trout.
I caught my fish on a stonefly adult pattern and bead head prince nymphs. Jared caught his trout on an adult stonefly pattern.
Adult Stonefly Patterns (various)
Bead Head Prince Nymph, size 14
Cardiac Canyon is located between Lower Mesa Falls and where the Warm River joins the Henry’s Fork. It is fairly rugged and requires a lot of hiking to get to and from the river. The walk out after fishing all day can be challenging especially at the so called “boat” ramp, which could result in a “Cardiac” event if you are in poor physical condition.
Even after all of the snow received in the mountains over the last two weeks, Eastern Idaho and Southeast Idaho snowpack levels remain very low for this time of year. Hopefully the groundhog was right and there is still six more weeks of winter (if you are into that sort of thing of course!).
The Blackfoot River is very dependent on the snow water equivalent to maintain optimal flows in the summer. Without a significant increase in snow pack (or a very wet, rainy spring) the upper Blackfoot River may not be in poor shape for this summer’s fishing season. The Henry’s Fork, with excellent spring flows, may have lower water, but will probably still be great fishing as the lower flows make it more accessible by foot.
|Basin||Snow Water Equivalent Percent of Average|
|LITTLE LOST, BIRCH BASINS||75%|
|MEDICINE LODGE, BEAVER, CAMAS BASINS||67%|
|HENRYS FORK, TETON BASINS||63%|
|SNAKE BASIN ABOVE PALISADES||59%|
|WILLOW, BLACKFOOT, PORTNEUF BASINS||60%|
|SNAKE BASIN ABOVE AMERICAN FALLS||61%|
|BEAR RIVER BASIN||60%|