January 12, 2013
Not much flyfishing to be enjoyed in Jackson Hole or Alpine, Wyoming in the Months of December through February, but we can start to anticipate and get excited about what is to come. I have seen warmer days in late February clear the ice off the Salt River enough to wet a line. The trout are slow, but attainable with small nymph patterns. Often the white fish are active in the winter months. They are always good to get that rod bent over. The South Fork of the Snake often produces some of the biggest fish of the season during the months of March and April. The same fished hooked in April has much better odds of being landed than that fish hooked in the summer flows of 12,000 c.f.s. There is typically a small window of a few weeks in April that the Snake River around Jackson Hole can really fish well. Most often streamers and nymphs are the fly of choice, but the right warm sunny day may get a few fish rising in the faster riffles for small golden stones. When this happens it is a nice treat to pick up fish on a dry in April. This is also an incredible time to be on the river, crystal clear water accented with snow covered mountains and very few anglers on the water. Some of my most enjoyable days on the river were in April.
We can typically get a pretty good idea this time of the year for what kind of spring run-off we can expect, which will determine when our fishing season will get started in the spring. On one extreme, two years ago we had a snowpack in the top 5% of all time along with a late spring. The rivers were flooded through July and the Salt River and Snake River did not start fishing well until the first week of August. Last year was the other extreme. The snowpack was 85-95% in February, but did not build much in the months of March and April. The run-off started early and the Salt River was fishing well by the second week in June. If an anglers schedule is flexible enough to get out here when that happens, you can plan on great fishing, and pretty well have the rivers to yourself. Most anglers planning fishing vacations book cautiously and shoot for dates after July 1st. Although it is not a perfect science and there are many factors, I will try to make some reports in the future pertaining to our current snowpack, which may help an angler make an educated decision for when they would like to fish the area. Currently we are at 95-100% of the average snowpack, with dry weather in the forecast and a below average amount of snow below 8000 feet.