Three Rivers Ranch is nestled between the Warm River and Robinson Creek, just upstream from where they join Henry’s Fork in eastern Idaho. As I came within eyesight of the ranch entrance, I realized how special this location is. The Ranch offers plenty of fishing opportunities within walking distance. On my first evening prior to dinner, lodge manager Justin Allen and I stood on the beautiful back porch that is connected to the fly shop and talked about the long history of the lodge while watching rising fish. Standing along a small Idaho stream in late August, watching trout fest was a great way to unwind after a three-hour ride from Livingston, Montana. Justin informed me that the property turned into a small resort with a café as well as cabins and a train stop for tourists headed to Yellowstone National Park. The property has such a historic feel to it, it didn’t take much for me to imagine what the property would have looked like in the 1920s.
As the dog days of summer are coming to an end in the American West, fall fishing starts heating up. As cooler evening and morning temperatures start to become more of a regular occurrence, fishing tends to be more consistent throughout the whole day. Another key factor to consistent fall fishing is the steady water level of the rivers. All fishing techniques can be effective (dries, streamers, and nymphs) this time of year. Three Rivers Ranch offers 2,500 miles of river within a 100-mile radius of the lodge located just 10 minutes outside of Ashton, Idaho.
The short days of fall can offer great dry fly fishing on Henry’s Fork and the South Fork of the Snake River. Blue-winged Olives (baetis) and Mahogany Duns can both be seen in September and October. Fall dry fly fishing can tend to be a little more forgiving than summer dry fly fishing, as the water is not as low and clear and fish are not as picky. Big fish can still be caught on dries this time of year too. The seasoned guides at Three Rivers Ranch can easily pick out the larger heads in a pod of rising fish and move the boat into position to make a well-placed cast.
Some of the best streamer fishing can be done in the fall as well (pre-spawn). Three Rivers Ranch has licensed guiding in ID, MT, OR, and Yellowstone National Park. Needless to say, you and your guide have plenty of options to find big fish. One of the biggest tips for streamer fishing is to consistently change the color of the fly until you find the magic color combination. Typically you can determine what color to start with based on the color of the sky. Bright Sky = bright color (white, yellow, and chartreuse) and dark sky = dark colors (black, brown, olive, and purple). The best fish from my trip came on a yellow articulated streamer. My guide and I went through two other colors until we finally had action. For example, if you do not get a chase/strike with a black streamer for 10 – 15 minutes, then change to white and see if that antagonizes any feisty fish. Sometimes you could go through five or six colors until you find what the fish want. (Be sure not to walk on / target fish on redds as fall brings spawning).
Three Rivers Ranch was the first Orvis endorsed fly fishing lodge. In order to receive such an honor, a lodge must meet the rigorous standards that Orvis expects from a fly fishing lodge. The ranch has been family owned for 90 years and has a 90% return rate over two seasons. The owners Lonnie and her son Justin Allen are two of the most genuine, personable managers in their industry. The extremely high standards that Three Rivers upholds will ensure that you will experience great service, great fishing, and most importantly, experienced, professional guides and staff.
By: Derek Hathazy