I first met the Henry's Fork in the early summer of 1976...This trip started a love affair that has lasted for 44 years and counting. In the last few years I have had some issues with my legs and can no longer wade the way I used to so my trips to the Henry's Fork have been somewhat limited.
The Henry's Fork is the reason I have not fished as much in the salt as I would have liked and it has substantially limited the other waters I would have liked to visit over these many years. I guess that is the down side of being in love with a river. Still, I have managed to pull myself away from time to time and have been able to fish close to 100 other places across the west. Many of these other places are truly special and some are unique but none of them has been able to make me "trade" for less time on the Henry's Fork. I eventually bought a cabin on the HF and that no doubt contributed to fewer trips elsewhere. I am not a particularly religious person but I do believe that if God has a summer cabin, it may very well be very close to Island Park, Idaho.
There has been much written about this river over the years...much of it about the famed "Railroad Ranch" now known as the Harriman State Park. It is famous for many reasons...from the clear old water that flows out of Big Springs to the many large native rainbows that inhabit it. Couple that with the incredible hatches of mayflies, caddis, stoneflies and other less significant insects and you have a "perfect" dry fly trout stream.
The Henry's Fork has much more to offer than just the quiet and serene waters of Harriman State Park. Just above the Harriman section is "The Box"...a lava rock canyon with large rocks, faster water, big fish and a salmonfly hatch that draws fly fishers from all around the world...much like the famous green drake hatch that, for many, defines the Harriman Park section. Above the box canyon is Island Park Reservoir which makes the lower section I just mentioned a tailwater fishery as well as a true spring creek. This may make the Henry's Fork unique...there certainly are other spring creeks and tailwater fisheries but I know no other river that can honestly claim to be both. Above Island Park reservoir (known locally as "the res") are more miles of river that offer good fly fishing when compared to most trout streams. The fish are smaller for sure but they are much easier to catch so there are a lot of good places for the beginner.
The Henry's Fork can be described in many ways depending upon where you fish the river. Everyone is aware of the Harriman Park section of the river but it is just a small part of the river. I look at the river as being two sections, above Mesa Falls and below Mesa Falls. First, there are no brown trout above the falls and second, the character of the river changes pretty dramatically. The lower section runs through ranch and farm land where access can be more difficult but the fishing is still excellent.
Below the Harriman Park is many more miles of great fishing. I will be writing more about this in the near future. Until then, you have my permission to go fish the Henry's Fork (it is "my" river)...BUT...you had better treat her right and release her fish.
5 TIPS ON FISHING THE HENRY’S FORK - by Mike Lawson and Rio Products
The Henry's Fork - by yellowstoneflyfishing.com
Henry's Fork Angler Access Map (interactive) - by Google Maps