Fly Fishing the Salt River
in Jackson Hole

 

The Salt River is a fairly small river that flows out of the Salt River Range in western part of Jackson Hole, winding its way through the ranch lands of Star Valley and into Palisades Reservoir. It has a good population of cutthroat from 12 to 14 inches, but also a number of very nice browns.

One thing that makes fly fishing the Salt River so great is the amount of public access that is available to fishermen. Few places in Jackson Hole offer this kind of access. Heading south from Alpine Junction, toward Afton, keep an eye out for the signs that indicate public fishing areas. These pieces of property have been purchased by the Wyoming Game and Fish department from ranchers for the use and enjoyment of sportsmen. Since they are surrounded by local ranches and farms please respect the landowners by not crossing any fences or harassing their stock.

 

The Salt is also a great place for beginners. There is plenty of room for casting and the water is very easy to read The Salt is a fairly small river, so wading can be an effective way of fishing. However, because of private property, strong currents and deep holes, you will find the river best fishes from a boat or a raft. With a guide to teach you the river, you'll do much better than you will at the public access areas and you'll be able to hit structures that the bank fishermen can't reach.

One very favorable characteristic about the Salt is how early the water usually clears. Usually by about mid or late June the Salt can be fished, while other rivers are still in runoff.

The Salt is home to some very decent caddis hatches. From mid June through July, both early and late in the day, caddis can be very abundant. Krystal Flash Caddis, Peacock Caddis, Olive Stimulators and Elk Hair Caddis are usually effective patterns. During the day the Golden Stones may come off, so be sure to have an imitation in your fly box such as a PMX or Yellow Stimulator.

July brings about the lazy days of summer and some of the more popular hatches. In morning and late afternoon, if the conditions are right, Pale Morning Duns can come off the water in fairly decent numbers. You may also see some Grey Drakes, in which case a Parachute Adams will work nicely. During the day, fishing with a Pale Morning Dun, Yellow Sally and attractor patterns can be effective. Evening caddis hatches can be heavy. Toward the end of July, grasshoppers become more and more abundant and fish can be taken on their imitations.

August and September can be the best two months of the year to fish. The weather is warm, but not hot, and the afternoon winds tend to calm down at this time of the year. Fish can be taken on hoppers and big attractor patterns, thus making for an enjoyable day of top water fishing.

Besides trying to match the hatch, be sure to fish attractors. Some flies that would be a good idea to have in your box when heading toward the Salt are: Parachute Adams, PMX, Stimulators, Turck's Tarantula, Chernobyl Ants and Dry Muddlers. Catching big fish is what the sport is about and fishing deep is how to stir them up. The Salt River has an ample supply of baitfish, therefore, streamers can be fairly effective in pulling fish off the bottom. Double Bunnies, Kiwi Muddlers, Wooly Buggers, Matuka's, Zonkers, Girdle Buggers and a JJ Special will all work well.

Nymph fishermen will find the Salt a very enjoyable place to fish. The chances are that you will have a double digit day. Nymphs that you want to stock up on are Copper John, Beadhead Hare's Ear and Beadhead Prince Nymphs. Above everything else, the best part about fishing the Salt is the number of people you will see. The Salt doesn't receive the pressure that some rivers in this area get so you may have an area to yourself.