A time when the angler wore a sport coat and tie while pursuing his quarry. And to catch his prey, only dry flies would do. Spending his days searching water for rising fish and taking his time to present the fly properly to fool the fish, Teton Valley Lodge remembers well those days gone by. Alma Kunz, the founder of the lodge, started guiding the Teton River in 1919. For nearly 100 years we have been fishing the Teton river.
Fishing the Teton river is special, it is a place that sends you back to those days of a slower pace.
The drift boats are left at the lodge along with the waders. This stream is fished from boats aptly named “Teton Boats”, unique to the river. They are 20 foot long boats that have seating for three. A small outboard motor runs its fisherman up and down the river in search of the rising fish. With the boat in the proper position, the guide skillfully directs the anglers into the rising fish below. The Teton is the smallest stream that we guide, but still a river at over 100 feet in width. The water is calm; a classic spring creek.
The Teton river is home to three types of trout. The native cutthroat, the rainbow and brook trout.
The cutthroat are the most prevalent, in fact the Teton has one of the strongest holds of native cutthroats found in the West. These native fish are among the most beautiful fish in the world. Their vibrant colors and size make them truly magnificent. The cutthroat on the Teton average 16 inches but are regularly caught at well over 20 inches. This season the largest landed was a 23.5” and last season a 26” cutthroat was caught and released.
Rainbows constitute a little less than half of the population of the river. These fish can truly grow to gigantic proportions. The largest in recent memory was a monster of 29 inches in length by 19 inches in girth. As a rule the fish found in the Teton are big. An average day on the Teton would find its fisherman landing no less than one fish over 20 inches. Every day on this stream gives its fisherman a chance at a fish of a lifetime. Because of these large fish, and the excitement they provoke, the lodge has a special contest just for the Upper Teton. The largest fish caught on this section will win a free 3 day trip for whomever catches it.
The hatches begin as soon as the water clears from run-off, generally near the end of June, and will continue through the month of October. The season begins with the most prolific hatch of the season, the Pale Morning Duns. PMD’s are a beautiful mayfly that will range in color from light yellow to pink, orange and green. There are times when these insects are so thick upon the water it is nearly impossible to locate your own fly. Fish will feed vigorously upon these mayflies for about a month. Along with the PMD’s there are a plethora of stoneflies on the Teton. These stones range from a few giant Salmon flies that travel upstream from the Narrows to the droves of small yellow sallys or red tags that hatch. These small goldens range in size from 16 to 8, and are among the trout’s most desired foods. There are times when blankets of PMD’s are drifting down stream with never a look from a fish only to have a golden stone be devoured the second it enters the view of the selective trout. During the same time period, Green Drakes will be hatching. These monsters of mayflies range from size 14 all the way to an 8. It is quite an experience to watch these insects emerge from the water, seemingly appearing from nowhere, then drift down the surface of the glassy water to be eaten by the patient trout below. This is the kind of quiet beauty that can make an angler’s heart race.
As the season progresses into August, terrestrial insects become very important. There are still mayfly hatches to interest the fish, however small hoppers and flying ants are often the bait of choice. On most streams, August marks the time of year when waters subside. The snow from the mountains has all run-off and fish usually go to deep holes as waters warm. This is not true for the Teton. When the water from the hills decrease in the river, the grass from the bottom of the river grows up. As this happens, it is as if a natural dam has been placed in the river. The grass displaces the water and the level actually increases in August above that of peak run-off. It is truly unique. Incredibly, this natural occurrence creates a tremendous habitat to produce great fishing in this, the hottest month of the season.
As august rolls on, the river reveals one of the most exciting times to be had on a stream, the Grey Drake hatch. It only takes a few days of limited insects for the fish to really key in on the Grey Drakes. Some days there are hundreds of drakes, and others there are few, but the fish will always eat them due to their extreme attraction to them. There are several guests of the lodge that plan their last trip of the year with this river and hatch in mind. Along with the Grey Drakes, Mahogany Duns also provide good action. These smaller mayflies are very prevalent throughout the end of the season.
With all of these insects and large trout, it’s easy to see why fishing the Teton River should be on the list of the finest dry fly streams in the West.
Some anglers find the slow water and rising fish to be intimidating, but it does not take long for them to fall in love with this spring creek. Next time you come to the lodge give it a try and you will be amazed at the treasure that runs right out your cabin door.