For Granny and I, opening day on the Harriman Ranch of the Henry’s Fork isn’t just about the fishing. We especially like seeing old friends. Our hardcore fishing will come next week when the opener crowds shrink and the fishing gets better.
We arrived at the Last Chance parking lot at the upper end of the Ranch last night at about 7 PM. Friends Victor and Sandy Colvard were relaxing outside their camper along with several others. Granny and I pulled up next to them, jumped out of our rig and set up our lounge chairs to join the group. We were really stoked about winning 2nd place in the bass tourney and now it was time to celebrate. We popped a couple beers and started catching up with everyone. From there we walked up to the TroutHunter pig roast and partied down with everyone into the wee hours of the morning.
Despite the big night, Granny and were up and chowing on breakfast at 7 AM sharp. From there it was back to the parking lot where at some point today we would make a walk down into the Ranch. Although sunny, it was a cool morning and the wind was already starting to blow. Not good because it was only 8. Typically, these sunny, cool windy days of June aren’t the best for hatches. To make conditions worse, the water level is about as high for a Ranch opener as I can remember, furthermore threatening the chances of a good hatch. And when there are no hatches in the Ranch there are few risers and few fish caught.
With that in mind, we really took our time to get ready. The visiting with friends started all over again and we didn’t wader up until about 11. Granny knows the deal too and she opted not to fish at all. So I headed down into the Ranch with my friend Rob Parkins.
Rob and I walked about a mile in to an area I refer to as the big turn. The entire walk Rob and I scanned the water for risers but found nothing. We also visited numerous anglers that had been out all morning and not one person had seen or caught a fish. Rob and I got comfortable on a bank that’s been reliable for me even on tough days like today and we kicked back and waited for a fish to appear. One hour, two hours, maybe it was three hours before finally a trout rose. Then five minutes later the trout rose again. We had a chance. Today is Rob’s birthday so he waded into position.
From judging the rise, this was a standard big rainbow of the Ranch. He would likely go 18 inches or better. He rose again and Rob carefully laid down his first cast. Everything looked good to me. His fly drifted right over where the fish just rose but nothing. Fifteen minutes later Rob was still making nice casts but the fish hadn’t risen again. It had been windy all day, but now that we actually saw a fish, the wind got worse. Hurricane-like bursts of wind had arrived. I mean it must have been gusting over 30mph. It was absolutely brutal. Rob stared in the direction he last saw his fish and the area turned to whitecaps. Rob reeled in and said “I’m out a here”.
A glutton for punishment, I actually stayed at this spot for another hour. I took a nap hoping I’d wake up to no more wind and a rising rainbow in front of me. But I wasn’t so lucky. At 4 PM I too packed it in. It was a rare opener for me, not only did I not catch a fish, but I never made a cast.
At the parking lot it was evident the Harriman Ranch of the Henry’s Fork had taken its toll on almost everyone. It wasn’t even 5 and everyone was out of their waders plopped in lawn chairs drinking beer and wine. The wind was still cranking and there was no indication it would stop in time for an evening hatch. When you can’t beat them, join them and that’s what I did.
It was a great night in the old Last Chance parking lot. The Colvards started up their grill and the food never stopped coming. We had steaks, chicken, corn, asparagus, salad and the list goes on. It was a special night with some special friends.
Every Ranch opener is memorable. Most often it’s because of the good fishing but today it will be the wind and the biggest parking lot party ever. It doesn’t blow like it did today but once a summer – I hope. But I know the fish are here and I plan to return Saturday morning for Henry’s Fork Day. Perhaps I’ll get a few hours on the water and the big boys will be rising.