In a year like no other, one thing that you could go to the bank on, was the great fishing to be had at Henrys Lake!
This year was my 55th year to cast a fly on these hallowed waters. What a treat, a pure joy to savor the beauty and splendor of this treasured lake.
It was a year of firsts, first year to guide with Damon Keen, the lake biologist for years and one fine man and skilled fisherman. My first time to tag out as a guide, and let my son, Justin, tag in, and experience the joy of fly fishers, casting, retreiving, setting the take, and landing some of the bounties of the lake. It was fun to see him take to guiding like a duck takes to water.
June was nothing short of outstanding fly fishing. On my first guide trip, I floated from Staley's to Duck about 100 yards from the shore. I had two clients that had never fly fished and weren't really interested in learning how to cast, mend, etc. There was a slight ripple on the water, a breeze, perfect for newbies. I was ready to teach fly casting, but they didn't want any part of it, just get the fly out there, hand us the rods and if we catch two fish, will be happy campers. Wham! Fish on! The black squirrel tail leech, tied with Peacock Ice Dub on a Mustad size 8 nymph sproat hook was the ticket to the fish show. I would cast her fly out, hand her the rod, go net the fish up front that the hubby was landing, cast the bug back out and.... rinse & repeat. What a morning! We started at 6 a.m. and neared the Duck Creek area at 10:30 a.m., I said, " let's fire up the boat and float that stretch again", this was the first float and possibly the best of the year. The gentlemen in the front of the boat, said "No, I believe we kinda like this fly fishing thing, let's not ruin it, we've had enough." And that was the first of some pretty incredible June fishing.
I use a WF6I Rio Aqualux II line about 75% of the time, and when I need to get deep I use a Rio WF6 F1/S3/S5 sink tip, always having the two rods at the ready. The NE corner of the lake held a lot of fish during June and July in about 10 ft. of water, where the Aqualux line put the fly, spot on the fish. One of my favorite late June flies is a bruised leech, tied with Senyo's midnight fusion dub, a touch of Orvis Ice Dub Minnow back Shimmer Fringe and maribou for the tail, tied with and without tungsten beads on the size 8 Mustad Nymph hook. Targhee got the normal attention of fly fishers in July and August and produced steadily throughout the summer. All those stillwater patterns imitating caddis were magical.
Our shop got a call from a gentleman that was an avid, two rod fly fisher, again, a first. Years ago, he had invented a new and improved crab pot out of the Puget Sound, he heard about Henrys Lake from a steel rep out of Nucor Steel in Plymouth Utah. I'll call him the Crabman, out of respect for his business and passion for the big water out of the Sound. The Crabman set up in the front of my boat, we were nestled in with the Henrys Lake Hooligan's just 100 yards out from Targhee Creek. All the locals talking in their insider fishing slang about what flies they're using, depth, strip technique, etc. etc. They looked in dismay, as the Crabman started casting his two rods out with, god forbid, strike indicator's and leeches below. He drew a ton of attention for several reasons, the most obvious was the number of fish he was bringing to the net. Bobber down, set hook, reel a bit, other bobber down, set hook, land fish, finish up with the other downed bobber. What a hoot, 70+ years young and loving every minute of the fly fishing day!
Late August and September was a warm slap to the fly fisherman's face, temps of 80+ degrees were pretty consistent thru September and it slowed the bite down quite a bit. Drifts thru the sand flats north of the State Park produced fish on Sheiss's electric black leech. One day it was fish on, and the next day a challenge.
October, the magic returned! Lots of fish 18 to 20 inches with not a single big boy to the boat. Pintail got better by the day and fish were fully staged and hungry by the 15th of October. My co-worker Garrett, turned me on to an EP, craftfur brush 3" olive/FL Orange fly. So simple to tie, so deadly on the lake! I tied up a bunch with and without tungsten bead heads on a #700 Size 4 Dai -Riki hook. Between these new brush flies and a fluorescent orange tailed Halloween, with a florescent orange hackle, the rest of my flies could be left at the dock. Duck Creek, the north shore, Pintail, south shore just west of state park all produced an abundance of fish.
2020 will always bring to mind an appreciation of a remarkable year of fishing on Henrys Lake. Lucky we are, to enjoy the magnificence of such a wonderful fishery.
Kevin Skenandore, HLF Board Member