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Fishermen crowd the Cliffs for the opening weekend of fishing season on Henrys Lake

Living the Wild Life

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“Fishing on opening day was fantastic by the Cliffs and the five of us caught a lot of fish,” said Mike Bruton of Rexburg. “We were done by 9:30 with an eight-pounder and a seven-pounder, both caught by Alton (Hansen), with the rest of us getting our limits of four-pounders.”

Another family group fished the Cliffs on the opener with only one fish from there but then moved to the area by the Henrys Lake State Park boat launch, where they caught their fish.

Monday was a different story. Some of those that had a tough time catching fish on Saturday had great luck on Monday and vice-versa.

“We had a tough time on Monday,” said Bruton. “We only got two small fish on the Cliffs and had to go out in the middle to finally catch our limit without any large ones.”

boats henrys lake
By Monday the boats had thinned out due to the snow fly hatch and slow fishing for some fishermen. | Bill Schiess,

That’s what fishing is like during the early part of the season on Henrys Lake. The fish change their habit really quickly and with the good weather, the dreaded snow fly hatch started in earnest on Monday. When the hatch starts, the fish gorge themselves full of the larva because the insects come off the bottom of the lake.

Meanwhile, fishermen have a tough time breathing without finding the billions of bugs finding human nostrils or an open mouth.

“The hatch is really going great guns right now,” Mike Wilson, owner of the Drift Lodge tackle shop, said on Thursday. “But some fishermen are still finding fish willing to play as we have seen a 14- and a 16-pounder caught this week.”

The snow fly hatch usually starts around June 10 and lasts for 10 days. It is a miserable time for fishermen as they coat everything. Fish like them and become so full that when caught, the eaten insects will be thrown back up or a thick black slime will be relieved on the fishermen or the boat. The hatch also coincides with slow fishing so by the Monday after opening, fewer boats were on the famed lake.

“Bait and lure fishermen are out-fishing the fly fishermen,” commented Wilson. “Panther martens for the hardware fishermen and sucker meat for those using bait seem to be the best. The fishermen using flies are finding the electric black and the purple showgirls, both black flies, the best for them. Those fly fishermen using indicators with small chironomids, are also having success.”

The fish were stacked up at the Frome County Boat dock on the west and at the Henrys Lake State Park last week, but the fish have scattered. Some of the best fishing is in the Hybid Holes near the middle of the lake where the aquatic weeds have started to grow.

As the weed banks develop in water from 12 to 18 feet deep, the fish will congregate along the growing weeds for cover and for food. With the snow fly hatch probably ending by June 9 or 10, fishing success will increase with the fly fishermen finding success with green and olive flies.

There were some dandy fish caught during the opening week and it will be a great year for those looking for a trophy fish to hang on their wall. Good luck to all who venture out on Henrys Lake and watch out for the wind. It can be deadly.

But remember, there is a reason that this activity is called “fishing” and not “catching.”

henrys lake
Fishermen crowded the shoreline near the Cliffs for the opening weekend of the fishing season on Henrys Lake. | Bill Schiess,