The Snake River
Open Season: Trout fishing on the Snake from Jackson dam to Palisades reservoir is legal year-round, though it is strict catch-and-release for all cutthroat trout between Nov. 1st and March 31st. Whitefish season runs year round except the month of March. Runoff season typically runs from mid-May through mid-July during which time the river is unfishable.
Best Time of Year to Fish: Usually mid to late August through September
Best Time of Day to Fish: Midday. More specifically, 11am -4pm during the summer months. 11:30am – 3pm during the fall.
Species: Snake River Fine-spotted Cutthroat Trout
Access: The best public access is in Grand Teton National Park at boat ramps, the bridge at Moose, Schwabacher’s Landing, Jackson Lake Dam or wherever roads come in close proximity to the river. Downstream of the park access is more limited. Look for bridges and the occasional roadside access. Most of the Snake outside of the park is lined with private property.
While the Snake River certainly can be wade fished, it is a swift, high-energy river. Use caution while wading since the gravel/cobblestone bottom can be unstable in places. On our guided trips we like people to go no more than knee deep. Float fishing is the method of choice since it is so much easier to access more of the river.
Hatches: In General: Sporadic hatches of stoneflies from April – September. Midges all year round. Summer hatches of evening caddis and mayflies (usually midday).
Hatches: More Specifically:
– Tremendous caddis and stoneflies hatches (various species) during the first three weeks of June, though the river is normally in full run-off at this time (but not always!)
– Classenia Sabulousa stoneflies (size 8 & 6, cream-tan-brown body) from late August through the first two weeks of September.
– Hecuba mayflies (size 10) from late August through the first two weeks of September. Think Green Drakes, but with a brownish body and yellow segmentations.
– Baetis mayflies (size 18 – 22) in April and the second half of September through October. Sometimes prolific. During the baetis hatch, also called Blue Wing Olives, matching the hatch is the way to go.
– “October” Caddis (size 10, orange body) starting in late September through October.
Keep your eyes open for location specific hatches in micro-habitats. These small hatches will often be mayflies like Pale Morning Duns, Black Quills, Mahogany Duns etc. Grasshoppers are hugely important from August through September, and even October.
Flies: Dry Flies: Royal Wulff, Humpies, Trudes, Stimulators, Elk Hair Caddis, Turck Tarantulas, Schroeder’s Parahopper, Parachute Adams, Parachute Hare’s Ear, Chernobyl Ant, Power Ant, Snake Drake
Nymphs: Prince Nymph, Red Fox Squirrel Tail Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail (with or without beads), Yuk Bug, Girdle Bug
Streamers: JJ Special, Woolly Buggers, Zonkers, Kiwi Muddlers, Muddler
Points of Interest: Grand Teton National Park provides some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever see from a trout stream. Wildlife is also abundant, again, especially in the park. Watch for bald & golden eagles, osprey, herons, pelicans, hawks, elk, deer, moose, bison, antelope, otters and yes, the occasional bear.
Comments: Just about everyone will start with dry flies and switch to nymphs or streamers only if necessary. Snake River Cutthroats love big dry flies, not only dead drifted, but on the twitch or swing too. Many of the natural insects found on the Snake are very active on the waters surface. Take advantage of this by occasionally twitching or drowning your fly. Sometimes cutthroats which won’t take a dry fly on the surface will slam them if they are just slightly drowned.
Don’t be afraid to experiment on this river!
More Information: Guided Trips on the Snake River