The Salt River, flowing out of the Salt River Range in western Jackson Hole, Wyoming, winds its way through the ranch lands of Star Valley and into the Palisades Reservoir. The incredible amount of public access available to fishing aficionados make fly fishing in the Salt River unbeatable. There are few places in Jackson Hole that offer such access. As you head south toward Afton from Alpine Junction, watch for public fishing area signs. These areas have been purchased for the enjoyment of travelers and sportsmen
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 livestock.
The Salt River is a smaller river, and wading can be effective. The river has plenty of casting room and is easily readable water, making it perfect for beginners. The river is, however, best fished from a boat or raft because of strong currents, deep holes, and patches of private property. A guide will allow you a much better experience than at a public access area, and you will be able to get places the bank fishermen can’t.
The Salt River’s water clears early — usually around mid or late June you can start fishing — while other rivers are still in runoff.
From mid June through July, caddis can be in abundance throughout the day. Effective patterns are usually krystal flash caddi, olive stimulators, peacock caddis, and elk hair caddis. The golden stones may come off during the day, so don’t forget to bring an imitation to keep in your fly box like the Golden Chernobyl, Yellow Hippie Stomper, Yellow Stimulator, or Black PMX.
July brings some of the more popular hatches in the morning and afternoon, with Pale Morning Duns coming off the water in some decent numbers. You may potentially see some Grey Drakes as well, which a Parachute Adams would work well for. Fishing with a Pale Morning Dun, Yellow Sally, and attractor patterns can be effective during the day. Caddis hatches can be heavy in the evening. Closer to the end of July, grasshoppers increase in abundance and fish can often be taken on their imitations.
The end of summer in August and September can be the best months of the year for fishing. The weather is warm, not too hot, and the winds in the afternoon have often calmed at this time of year. Fish can be taken on hoppers and big attractor patterns, which make for a great day of top water fishing.
If you can’t “match the hatch”, remember to bring fish attractors. Good recommendations to keep in your fly box are: Parachute Adams, Chernobyl Ants, Purple Bruce, Cranberry Bruce and a few Hippie Stompers.You’ll find an ample supply of baitfish in the Salt River, and streamers can be effective in pulling fish from the bottom. Others that work well are: Double Bunnies, Kiwi Muddlers, Wooly Buggers, Matuka’s, Zonkers, Girdle Buggers and a JJ Special. Nymph fishermen will want to stock up on Copper John, Beadhead Hare’s Ear and Beadhead Prince Nymphs.
The best part about fishing the Salt is that you typically see less people. There is less pressure on the Salt River than other rivers in the area, so you have the potential to find an area to yourself!