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Henrys Lake

Country: United States
District: Idaho
Type: Lake

Location size
Lake: 36 ha

Distance from
West Yellowstone, Wyoming: 8 km
Last Chance in Island Park, Idaho: 20 km
Jackson Hole Airport: 205 km
Idaho Falls Airport: 160 km
Salt Lake City: 505 km

Stillwater Guide Specialists

Henrys Lake started as a small, shallow, natural alpine lake. It has had some enhancement over the years increasing it's size from its original alpine lake status to the much larger and current lake size.

It's approximately 4 miles in length and 3 1/2 in width and an average depth of 14' making it an ideal Stillwater fly fishing destination. It is located at 6472 feet above sea level in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Southeastern Idaho, Fremont County, Idaho, United States.

The Centennial Mountain range runs along it's southern border and the Henrys Lake Mountains to the west side of the lake. The lake provides the headwaters of the famed Henrys Fork, a tributary of the Snake River. The Lake is 20 minutes away from West Yellowstone, 15 minutes from the famed Madison River and 10 miles across from the continental divide and the headwaters of the Missouri River in southwestern Montana.

Located just 15 miles west of Yellowstone National Park, this high mountain lake is the kind of place fishermen dream about.

How To Get There

Depending on preference, a person can fly into several different airports such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming (2 1/2 hours away), Idaho Falls, Idaho (2 hours away) and the largest of the airports located in Salt Lake City, Utah at (4 1/2 hours) away. All three airports have car rentals for a trip to the area.

After landing at the Jackson Hole airport you would go one of two ways: If you want to see all the attractions in Yellowstone Park you would travel north into the Teton National Park and into the South Entrance into Yellowstone Park. Once thru the South entrance you would follow the road west and then north to the Madison Junction and into the city of West Yellowstone. You would then go west and over the continental divide and into the Henrys Lake Valley and Henrys Lake.

The other route from Jackson would take you west from Jackson on Highway 33 over the Teton Mountain range and into Driggs, Idaho. Just west of Driggs you then turn on Highway 32 and follow it to Ashton Idaho. You then take Highway 20 to Island Park Idaho. You would proceed thru Island Park and Last Chance north and into Henrys Lake Valley and Henrys Lake.

If arriving from Salt Lake airport you would travel north to Idaho Falls, Idaho. You then proceed from Idaho Falls north on Highway 20 thru the towns of Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton, Island Park and to Henrys Lake. The same route would be taken from the Idaho Falls airport.

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Location Details

The whole lake is fishable but like most stillwater lakes you have some areas that are consistently better than others. You need to look for structure and food sources and most often you will find fish in those areas.

The lake changes through the different seasons and as water temperatures change. In the spring when it opens for fishing (Memorial Day Weekend) which is usually the last weekend in May. Ice off comes slowly in the high country and at times the ice comes off only days before the opening weekend.

The fish at this early stage of the season are more congregated near the shore lines but as the water warms the fish will scatter quickly looking for their summer areas and food sources. The shore line on the north, east and west have consistently been the best areas for food and structure. The south shoreline in the Southeast corner is another spot for stillwater fishermen.

As we get into the summer months the fish will move in pods - large and small to different locations on the lake.

You need to know how to search for structure and food sources on stillwater for your best success on the famed lake. The fish will move in and out of the shoreline as food, weather and water conditions dictate. The fish will be found in 2' to 21' of water through out the lake with most being in that 6" to 12' of water. The water is generally clear with some coloration. Generally due to the water clarity you can fish with 2x and 3x leader.

The scenery is gorgeous as the lake is surrounded by mountains on all sides and sits in a big open basin. Montana to the north and West Yellowstone to the east. It is the mecca of fly fishing for both rivers and stillwater. You have the famed Yellowstone Park with it's many rivers, creeks and stillwater.

You also have within 15 minutes the famed Henrys Fork River, Madison River, Hebgen Lake, all in the same geographical area. A little further south you have the famed South Fork of the Snake.

There are several areas you can access Henrys Lake. There is both a state and county boat docking area. Both areas have docks, restrooms and camping facilities. The County boat dock area is located on the west side of the lake and the State dock area is located in the Southeast corner just a few miles off Highway 20. There are private areas such as Red Rocks camp ground which has no docking facilities but great accommodations for RV's and campers, Moose Lodge which has a few rooms for rent and a private docking area and Wild Rose which has docking facilities along with hotel like accommodations. The state boat docking area is the largest docking facility on the lake.


Anglers visiting Henrys Lake can fish for cutthroat trout, brook trout and rainbow-cutthroat hybrid trout.

Henry's Lake holds some of the largest Brook trout in the United States and holds the Idaho state record Brook trout at 7.2 lbs. It holds the famed Yellowstone Cutthroat trout and it's not uncommon to catch them from 17" to 23". It also holds some of the largest trophy rainbow trout found anywhere. These big rainbows are a triploid/hybrid cross between a Yellowstone Cutthroat and a Kamloops Rainbow. These fish are sterile and do not reproduce and as a result the fish just eat and get really big. It's not uncommon to catch fish in the 5 to 10lb range with some of the big guys approaching 15lbs. It also is managed as a trophy fishery and with good numbers which translates into good opportunities of a trophy fish of a life time.

How To Fish

Although you will see fish rising in the famed lake very few are taken on the surface. To catch these big fish you will need to go deep and the best way to fish on Henrys is full sink lines. The lake is generally fished with 6wt 9' fly rods. The flies for Henrys Lake come in a variety of names, shapes, sizes and colors. With such names as the Naked Lady, Purple Show Girl, The Black Pearl and Mity Mouse to name a few. They are meant to pattern many aquatic species such as the Leech, Damsel, Midges, Scud and various Caddis species.

In the Spring and Fall the flies generally range from size 6 to size 10 and your darker colors such as black, brown, purple and dark green. During the summer months the flies generally are smaller and are the lighter colors such as, lighter brown, lighter greens and also smaller in size in the sizes 8's to size 12's. In the Spring your fishing with such flies as the Electric Black, Brown Crystal, Purple Show Girl and the Rainbow Black. During the summer your fishing with such flies as the Mity Mouse, Light Olive Crystal, The Naked Lady and other notable Damsel and Scud patterns in sizes ranging from 10's to 12's.

The number one fly all year is the famed Mity Mouse and is a must have fly. Due to the size of the lake the fishing is done best from a boat. There are however several areas at times that will provide fishing from Float Tubes and Kick boats. The more notable places for Kick boats/Float Tubes are along the South shore along the "Cliff" area, State and County Boat docking areas, Stayley's Springs area, Stump Hole along the North Shore and along the North Shore in front of the State Hatchery area. The State Hatchery has a parking lot and walk area down to the lake for public access.

One word of caution!! The winds can be deadly and you need to pay attention to the wind, its direction and the wind speed. The wind can pick up quickly at times and due to the shallow lake can produces some dramatic waves. When the wind picks up it's always best to move closer to shore or completely off the lake until the wind calms.


We recommend 6wt and 7wt rods for casting large flies and full sink lines. You need a rod with alot of power to throw it all and most often with some wind involved. You can fish lighter rods such as a 4wt and 5wt but are not recommended. If you tie into any of the big "hogs" you're going to need the big muscle of the bigger rods.

Full sink lines are the norm but you can do some indicator fishing with Chironomids with a Dry line at different times during the year.

Tippet can be as heavy as 2x and 3x material. The fish do not seem to be leader shy and this size of material works best. If the big fish strike they will head to the weeds and you will need the 2x to keep them away from the weeds and to hang on to them. The Kamloops strain of Rainbow has been a hard charger when it comes to hitting a fly and hanging on to a hot one becomes alot of fun.

Practical Info

The fishing season on Henrys Lake will start on Memorial Day Weekend which is usually the last weekend in May. Ice off is usually several weeks before the opening and in some years it can be days before the opening. You have to be prepared when fishing in the high country. At times you can see snow in those first few weeks after the opening along with some cold rain/snow mixture. In the high country always prepare for inclimate weather with appropriate clothing and equipment.

The fishing season will last from Memorial Day weekend until November 30th. It usually freezes over by November 15th and is open for Ice Fishing the remainder of the season.

Tackle shops in the area include BS Flies, Trout Hunter, Arricks, Blue Ribbon Flies, Henrys Fork Anglers, Three Rivers and World Cast.

Accommodations in the area include Eagle Ridge Adventures, Anglers Lodge, The Pines, Ponds Lodge and many others. Henrys Lake can be a technical Stillwater lake along with it's sheer size is always best the first couple of times fished with a guide. Time of year also plays a significant role in how and where the lake is fished. There are many guide services who are permitted on the lake but most do not guide on the lake due to it's technical aspects.

Be very cautious of the Wind! The lake can become very dangerous quickly due to the wind so be careful.

Henrys Lake does have a 2 fish limit of any size and has no slot limit. Make sure you get the fishing regulations for Henrys Lake and surrounding water and read carefully all the regulations governing the water in this area.

License is required throughout whole fishing area. Strict control is carried out  and you need to have your license on your person when fishing Henrys Lake and the surrounding waters.

Licenses can be bought on line via http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/licenses/ or in the local stores and Gas Stations along with the various fly shops.

If you choose to fish Yellowstone Park or Grand Teton National Park you will need a seperate park license to fish it's water. They will have their own regulations on all it's various water in both National Park's.

Catch and release is the norm by fly fishermen on Henrys Lake but is not a requirement. You can keep two fish. See the fish regulations for Henrys Lake. All the other surrounding water and including the different National Parks will have their own special regulations.

Lodging, restaurant
Lodging, Docking on Henrys Lake
Lodging, Restaurant
Information on the area
Information on the area
Yellowstone Park Information
Information about Idaho
Information on Teton National Park

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