The Henry's Fork Marathon
When I first moved near the Henry’s Fork River in 1987 I only had two days off from work a week. I couldn’t get enough of the Ranch in two ordinary fishing days, but during mid-June when the days were long I could come close. On my first Henry’s Fork summer solstice, I decided to walk the entire Ranch. I left the car at 5 AM during sunrise and returned that night in pitch dark at 11:15 PM. The length of the fishing day exhausted even a 22-year-old but there were no regrets and that day of fishing was incredible. It was the start of the tradition I now call the “Henry’s Fork Marathon.”
The Marathon starts similar to how it did back in the day. But it’s not just me anymore. Anyone is welcome to join me on the walk. Friends and I gather the night before the solstice on the banks of the Henry’s Fork. We used to camp at the Last Chance parking lot. These days it’s illegal to camp there. Instead we camp at the gravel pits below the Osbourne Bridge. My wife and I grill up some dogs for anyone who has room and chase them with ice cold beers.
I still wake up at 5 AM on the summer solstice but I migrate from the gravel pits to the Last Chance parking lot where I brew some coffee and get ready for the long walk.
During the lean fish number years on the Henry’s Fork my wife and I may be the only ones to do the Marathon. However, when fishing reports on the Ranch are good like this year we can have as many as twenty anglers. You don’t have to be my friend to be there. Everyone is invited.
To cover 16 miles of river on foot in one day you need to do some hiking. While I walk I keep my eyes on the river. Unless it’s a tough year I only stop for big rising fish.
We take many breaks along the river. Like at any fishing venue, at midday the river may seem void of life. This is a great time to kick back with friends and share a story…or two!
There are times when we sit in one spot long enough to start a party. These are actually some of the most fun hours on a Henry’s Fork Marathon.
When the hatch starts it’s time to get up and go.
Henry’s Fork Marathoners debate on whether or not to cross the oversized Ranch or stay on the side their on. The Teton view in the background is visible from either.
When the goings tough you need to get out there on the water and see if the fish will come to you.
The Henry’s Fork Marathon 2017 was one of the hottest on record. From around 10 AM until 4 PM not a fish stirred. You can fret about the bad fishing or embrace the time with friends.
Almost every full day on the Harriman Ranch includes at least the threat of a thunderstorm. Sometimes it’s what it takes to drive out the extreme heat and bring on the hatches.
While usually we put on the raingear, if we’re near the Osbourne Bridge we hide under it.
When you leave the car for a 16-hour period in the Yellowstone Country you better have a fleece and a rain jacket. The weather can change in a minute.
Once the storm clears, expect some of the most stunning skies of clouds, rainbows and sunbeams. And keep in mind that evening is the best time for fishing the Harriman Ranch. Luckily during the Henry’s Fork Marathon, you won’t be going in early anyhow.
The 2017 Henry’s Fork Marathon was a brutal one. When I finally saw a decent fish rising around 9 PM I knew I’d better catch him. I watched him feed then selected the fly I knew would work.
There is no better trout-fishing-dry-fly experience than that of being on the Ranch of the Henry’s Fork at sunset on the longest day of the year.
Patience always pays off on a hard-longest day of the year on the Ranch.
15 hours in on the Henry’s Fork Marathon I land my one and only nice trout of the day. To some, other easier rivers provide time better spent. But not for me. The Harriman Ranch on the solstice will always be my best place to be.
Thirty years later the tradition of my Henry’s Fork Marathon continues. I may start a couple hours later in the morning than once upon a time and I rarely get back to the car in the pitch pitch dark. But it’s still my longest fishing day of the year as well as my favorite.