“Henrys Lake should be excellent fishing this year,” Jenn Vincent, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Fishery Biologist said this week. “We had a great spawning season with over 1,000 fish running into the hatchery, a great winter survival after a great end of the year fishing last fall and winter.
We saw some large cutthroats run into the hatchery this spring, so we are looking forward to a great opening on May 23.”
“The numbers are off the chart with fish still running up the tributaries and even up some small streamlets caused by the run-off,” commented Mike Wilson, owner of the Drift Lodge Fly Shop near the lake. “The ice broke up on May 6 but the fish are still in the shallows as we have about 200 pelicans working from the A-Frame Bay, north to Staley Springs and then east to Timber Creek. Where you see pelicans there are fish there.”
Usually an early May ice-off allows the fish to scatter and move away from the shore, but as of May 14, they were still stacked around the Bill Frome County boat dock area, the Henrys Lake State Park and in the A-Frame Bay. If the fishing pressure is heavy in those areas the fish usually move out to the 12- to 14-foot water depth within a few hours after the fishermen hit those areas.
Last year a lot of large hybrids were caught early in the season and as the season progressed the large ones slowed but the numbers of 12- to 14-inch cutthroat increased and dominated the catch rate. This season those smaller fish will be two to four inches larger causing Wilson to predict a “great catch rate” for the season.
Up until Thursday, May 14, it looked like the resident fishermen would basically have the opening week to fish the lake without non-resident competition, but the Idaho Fish and Game Commission met and rescinded the non-resident rule. As of May 16, at 10 a.m. non-residents will be able to purchase their licenses to fish in Idaho and Governor Little also relaxed the 14-day non-resident self-isolate rule.
Vincent noted that some changes to the Henrys Lake management are happening. The annual gill netting from ice-breakup to the opening of fishing will not be conducted by the Fish and Game. A graduate student and her team, who are studying the movement of chubs in the lake, will conduct some gill netting and release those number to Vincent for analyses. She also acknowledged that on opening weekend there will be a creel census taken, but will not be continued throughout the season.
For those looking for camping areas over the Memorial weekend, for right now the Henrys Lake State Park will not allow camping there until at least May 30. It will be day-use only. The Frome County Park will be open for camping and on the national forest lands around the lake, campers have been setting up for the last two weeks. Wild Rose Ranch on the north side of the lake also has camping spots for rent.
People looking for cabins can contact Wilson at Drift Lodge or Wild Rose Ranch have both cabins and rooms for guests.
The fishing regulations basically remain the same; a two-fish limit with no more fishing after the second fish has been kept, all tributaries are closed to fishing until July 1, bait including sucker meat, flies and lures are all legal to use.
Remember, social distancing is still very important as is being courteous at the boat ramps and while fishing. I hope all of you are successful and that the youngest fisherman catching the biggest fish of your small group.
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