On the Fly column: Fishing elsewhere can make you appreciate what we’ve got here

Kirk Webb
On the Fly
Scott Spooner

When most people think of Western trout fly-fishing, images of hallowed Rocky Mountain streams like the Henry’s Fork, Madison, Snake and Yellowstone often come to mind. These trout-rich playgrounds surrounding the greater Yellowstone area are steeped in fly-fishing lore and are affectionately referred to as the “Golden Triangle” of trout fishing, encompassing parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

During the middle of June, when Roaring Fork Valley rivers are swollen with spring snowmelt, local fishermen often escape mud-season and explore other waters out-of-state. There’s a contingent of Basalt anglers who annually make the journey up North for opening day on the Harriman Ranch (aka Railroad Ranch) section of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. This goon-squad of old codgers have in recent years accepted the next generation of younger anglers into their tight knit circle of Henry’s Fork junkies.

For the last two weeks, a few friends joined me on our annual road trip to God’s country in the Golden Triangle of trout fishing. A short list of some of the water we fished included the Henry’s Fork, Warm, Firehole and Madison rivers. Over the course of our trip, we experienced anywhere from marginal to truly exceptional fishing.

The fishing is different than what we have here. The rivers are often wider than the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, and often are quite shallow in depth. This can make for challenging nymph (subsurface) fishing, but also accounts for splendid dry fly (floating) fishing.

Being a glutton for punishment, I enjoy the technical dry fly fishing that the Henry’s Fork offers. The numbers of fish present are less than what we are accustomed to locally. Anglers generally spend significantly more hours sitting on their butts studying the river, hatches and fish than they do ever making casts. Over the course of three days spent on the Ranch, I hooked six fish and landed one. On the flipside, over on the Madison River, where we fished for two days, we conceivably could have caught as many fish as we wanted. My daughter Madison, so named in part by the famous river, was with me in spirit on June 13, her 13th birthday, where we enjoyed the best fishing of our entire trip on her river, the Madison.

When we returned home to the valley, we spent the following day on the Fryingpan River, where we easily enjoyed the best fishing of our entire trip, where we fooled too many fish to count, all of which were taken on dry flies. I suppose sometimes you need to leave our valley to remember just how good that we have it here. With all area rivers now dropping and clearing, that electric buzz is in the air again, and summertime fishing is here. Be safe and fun out there.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or