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Discussion Starter #1
My wife and I are planning a trip to MT to fish with a favorite guide for a few days (not sure where - we'll decide when we get there). We would like to give the legendary Henrys Fork a go for a few days in mid-July, but our guide does not have Idaho permits, (and does not really have Idaho guide contacts). I am looking for some advice as to a lodge / guide service or an independent (licensed) guide that you can recommend. Lots of guide services in West that guide the Fork, but seems to us that a more local service would be better, if for no other reason than the probability of more water time versus commuting time for the guide. We are also uncertain as to the wisdom of staying in West Yellowstone and making the 45 minute drive twice a day versus staying in Island Park. Lots of choices in West versus not so many in Island park. One of the big factors is that I assume that the "last Light" fishing is probably not to be missed, which is pointing me toward staying in Island Park.

Any advice is appreciated!

Jim
 

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Henry's Fork Guide

The Henry's Fork fishes really well in mid July! The guiding thing works a little different in Idaho than Montana. In Idaho there is no such thing as an Independent Guide. To guide in the State of Idaho you have to be licensed through an Outfitter. Any guide that doesn't book you through an Outfitter is an illegal guide. The reason I inform you of this, is because if you are hire an illegal guide and are stopped by the authorities you can be held liable.

I recommend Pat from Trout Hunter. He is an outstanding fishing guide. I have recommended many of my personal clients to fish with him on the Henry's Fork. None of them have come back disappointed. His days book up quick in June and July so I would call sooner than later to book your float! if you have any questions please feel free to PM me.

Tim
 

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Henry's Fork Anglers and Trouthunter are the people i'd contact..
Ditto that, but since Mike sold the HFA I prefer Trouthunter but both are quality shops with quality guides.

West is a cluster....... in July. You will have a much more relaxing experience if you stay in Last Chance (where the fly shops are) and you can fish the evening hatch after dinner. Just so you know, the town of Island Park is 30 miles long, so if you make reservations in Island Park you can still be a long way from The Ranch (Harriman State Park-The classic flatwater section of the HF.) The two places that are close that I can recommend are:

The Henry's Fork Lodge. First cabin all the way. Good restaurant and decent wine list. Spendy.

Angler's Lodge. A nice hotel on the banks of the river with a decent restaurant and a full bar.

Hatch timing can vary by a couple of weeks year to year, but in general the Brown Drakes are done by mid-July and your main morning-mid day hatch are Flavs (Drunella flavilinea) with some PMD's, BWO's and maybe some Yellow Sally's, with caddis in the evenings.

Have fun.
 

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The Henry's Fork Lodge. First cabin all the way. Good restaurant and decent wine list. Spendy.

Angler's Lodge. A nice hotel on the banks of the river with a decent restaurant and a full bar.
Great advice! You can also book a room at Trout Hunter. They are right on the river as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Many thanks for all the advice.

TimW, booked Pat for 3 days at TH, John McDaniel for 1 day (recommended by Rich Paini at TH).

Jim
 

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+1 on the guide and lodge suggestions. Personally I would prefer a little earlier than mid July but I have had some amazing hatches up there in July. One time the caddis hatch at the Ranch was so thick that I couldn't walk anywhere because I would breathe them in and choke!! I had to cover my face and walk. I wish I still had the video because it really was a sight to see. The HF up there can be crazy fun/frustrating. Really tests you as an angler. It's an entirely different ball game up there!
 

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Jim, since you are going to be in IP I highly suggest a day on Sheridan Reservoir. Likely that your guide could take you there as well as the Henry's Fork. You will catch a lot of rainbows at Sheridan and you should be right in the middle of the damsel fly hatch.

Good luck and have fun!
 

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too bad all the older guys i used to really look up to and respect are getting out of the business.
 

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Mike Lawson is still the general manager of the Henry Fork Anglers, which he co-founded in the 70s. I have sent multitudes of clients and friends to HFA and will continue to do so. First class guide list which includes Bob Lamm , who was l think the second Guide of the Year ever selected by Rod and Reel magazine. Never have l received any negative feedback from anybody l sent there, and many acquaintances have returned to fish with them annually since the 80s.. fwiw
 

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Some quixotic postal official must have designated a thirty mile section of western highway as a town called Island Park. Last Chance, the "urban" area, is a mile or so long, depending on how you classify downtown, on both sides of the highway. It's compact enough to walk from most fly shops to restaurants to the oh-so accessible banks of the Henry's Fork, including the upper part of the Harriman Ranch parkland.

In the current (Feb.-March) issue of Fly Fisherman, local legend Rene Harrop observes that the Green Drake hatch has become such an event that the trout, which could be caught on a Yellow Humpy a few decades ago, now demand exacting imitations.
 

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HF was my go to destination for many years and Lawson's shop was first rate.
Then the Fork kind of crashed and I started going to Silver Creek and have been doing so for last 25 years but since I am pulling the plug and retiring at end of the year and following the fish, I will have a lot more time to look at options in the summer and plan to reacquaint myself with the Fork!!!
 

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You have received excellent advice in booking John McDaniel for the Ranch section of the HF. He is extremely knowledgeable, super energetic and has fished the Henry's Fork for over 25 years. Wading the Ranch is the only guiding he does, so specializing has made him one of the best if not THE best guide on that section of the river. He's also a wonderful guy to spend a day with and a terrific teacher, having been an anthropology professor before he retired. You will learn more in a day on the Ranch with John than multiple days with anyone else, in my opinion. You were fortunate to get him.

You should have good evening fishing to caddis and PMD spinners and maybe flavs as well. The water right across from the fly shops in Last Chance and down into the upper Ranch section is excellent, so it's easy to finish dinner and hop right into the river to fish until past 9 PM in July.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the advice. We are really looking forward to July and fishing the ranch. John McDaniel happens to have taught just up the road from us, so aside from all the good things we have heard about him, it should be fun.

Jim
 

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Im just gonna throw this out there. the ranch is neat and all, have to see it, but if you want to have a good day catching fish without people bugging you all day, go slightly down river toward where the Warm River runs into the Henrys Fork. there are some farm roads that you can use to access the river. There are 2 big bends below a bridge and above a big check damn. I have caught more fish at these 2 bends in a day than any person has a right to. I'm serious, so many fish when you get a couple you sit down and have a snack and wait for someone to move into the prime run and do it again.

You will get broken, smashed, run, and otherwise worked on the Henrys Fork. its amazing.
 

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anyone stay in Buffalo Run Campground? Always looking for a trailer places to hang for a month or so next season after I retire and HF is one place I could easily hang
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the HF advice

Had a great two days on the ranch section of the Henrys Fork this past mid-July. One day with John McDaniel, and one with Pat Gaffney. The river was scheduled to double in flow the last two days of our planned trip, so we bailed. Amazingly, Pat was immediately rebooked for the days we gave up. Maybe we made a mistake...

Anyway, John is an exceptional guide, worthy of every bit of praise that other posters have heaped upon him. According to my wife's "fitbit", we walked 9 miles with him in one day. We are both in pretty good shape, and John has a few years on us, but we still had to hustle to keep up. He told us right off that bat that the fishing was best early and late (no surprise, there) so we siesta'd mid-day, which is something I often do anyway. We fished till noon, took a break till 5, then fished till dark. Everything you have read about the ranch is true - those fish are tough. With John on the first day, I got 2 eats (missed both), and my wife got one hook-up (three jumps and gone). Nevertheless, we learned a lot about fishing the Ranch, and had a great time. John was very disappointed in the bug activity, all day. Did not see anything in the morning, either on the water or rising. Evening was a bit better, but all of the feeding activity was confined to a small area, and only lasted about 30 minutes.

Pat took us to a different section of the Ranch water. The first thing that we noticed about Pat was that the headliner of his truck is festooned with probably a few hundred "trophy flies" - flies that caught a 23" or larger fish from the Henrys Fork. This guy knows his stuff! Great attitude and very personable as well as a great guide. We spotted several fish throughout the day, and went through a wide range of fly changes as we targeted each fish. I got several eats, but no hook-ups early on. Later in the day, we fished to one particular fish for about 1-1/2 hour. Pat said he had fished to him before that summer, but never hooked him. I did - twice, and missed him once more. The final eat was on a beetle, and on the first cast, I counted down to almost the exact moment he would eat, and still set too soon! In frustration, I spun around, hooked my foot on a rock, and did a face plant! Pat beat me back to the boat, and when I got there, all wet, my wife asked what happened. I asked Pat why he had not told her what happened, and he said "Wasn't my story to tell". But I bet he told a few buddies later! Anyway, Pat is also a great guide, and even though the Ranch beat us this time, we both had a great time.

Again, many thanks for the advice, both public and private.

Jim
 

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Hi Rick J, have not stayed at Buffalo camp, but did stay several nights at Riverside this past June and it was great! It is close to everything (ranch water, warm river, etc..) and it does not have 4 wheeler trails going in and out of it so it is a quieter campground. Enjoy
 
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