This past Summer Season of 2018 was one of the best in recent memory which is a bold statement since most years are quite good with only slight variations coming into play. To have these great conditions line up we first need a healthy snowpack up in the Teton Range. This season we started with a generous 120% of our annual snowfall, a bit over average but that number helps mitigate the damage of a warm spring and hot, dry summer that are unfortunately more common in recent years. The wet winter occurred not only in the Tetons but around the entire region of the Northern Rockies; healthy cold flows for all! As predicted our runoff was big but not too long, ending around the first week or two of July, thus giving us an opportunity for a longer season duration. The region was fishing quite well by early July but even before that we had an excellent window on the lakes of Yellowstone and some lakes to our south and locally in Jackson Hole our guides had fantastic fishing on the tailwater section of the Snake below Jackson Lake dam, a section that we focus on early in the season while the main river is still settling after runoff.
As we progressed into July the Snake River cleared and the fishing was consistent once the flows dropped below the dam. This allowed for traffic to spread out among all the sections and also among all the rivers like the Green, Salt and New Fork. The stage was set for the remainder of the season to be exceptional and at times it was.
In fact, flows remained higher south on the Green River than on the Snake River for longer periods and this set up the region for some great hopper action and summer hatches, like PMD’s , sallies and tricos. Early in August we did have a couple weeks where the late day temperature would hit 90 degrees and as imagined this slowed the afternoon fishing. As an adjustment most folks were understanding and agreeable to head out onto the water an hour or two earlier to avoid water temps pushing well into the upper 60’s (on the Green or NF).
By late August much of our attention is turned and focused on the Snake River and its prime season. Fishing was excellent most days up and down the entire length from GTNP all the way to Palisades Reservoir. Most days we enjoyed fish rising to dry flies of attractor or terrestrial variety. The valley did experience rounds of smoke from the fires to the west and south but in general this was not a major set back and we consider ourselves very fortunate because the summer was a tinder box. By mid September we had a couple rain showers that helped knock down the smoke and turned the fishing on even more yet it has to be said by now our fish have seen a lot of flies so refusals also begin to increase. Safe to say maybe not as many fish to the net by mid-September but the average size of the trout is much better than earlier in July/August.
Then lastly, comes late September into October, arguably the best time of the year. The flows are lowered on the Snake River below Jackson Lake dam the last week of September and many of our native trout drain out of the banks and upper sections of the river in the GTNP sections. This annual cycle is typically finished around October 4th and therefore the trout pod up near wintering holes and runs. The fish that remain in the Park are typically larger specimens but fewer. Then as you float south of town in the BTNF numbers increase exponentially of all sizes. We had trips in late October reporting great BWO hatches and catch rates of over 30 or more on the sections to the south. Meanwhile in the Park I had a day where we sight fished to a couple dozen fish over 18″, landing only a few because of the gin clear flows and sneaky approach required, super fun!
October and late March are my personal favorites in Jackson Hole because there are less people traveling to fish during these months and the fish are feeding aggressively as the seasons are changing. We do offer Shoulder Season deals and invite you to come experience the best the area has to offer either in late winter/spring or late fall. Likewise, the summer is magical in itself and there is nothing quite like experienceing a float on the Snake River underneath the Tetons, casting a fly to a native trout. The summer, mountain weather is stunning and if the cooler shoulder season doesn’t appeal to you then please look us up for your summer adventure; dates can fill quickly so we recommend you book 2 months ahead for our peak season(July thru mid Sept.).
Thank you for a great season, cheers!
Scott Smith and GTFF Staff