Steve Adkins, Austin Browning, and Ryan Russell. The river goes on for 137 stunning miles, and is known to contain rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Cutthroat Trout offer anglers, especially flyfishers, a highly entertaining native trout experience on almost every North Idaho water. Visit Idaho notes that the river is “one of the most famous rivers” in Western Idaho, and for good reason. Then there’s the heart of Idaho, fly fishing big waters such as the Big Lost River (East Fork, Lower River) and the Salmon River (Main, Upper and Middle Fork). As we wandered among the willows, we spooked a cow moose and her calf—thankfully at a safe distance—and watched for a time as one of the stream’s many beavers repaired a leaky dam, courtesy of a late-summer deluge the day before. Home to introduced rainbow and brook trout and the state’s most unique population of native bull trout, the Little Lost is perhaps my favorite destination fishery within just a few hours of home in Idaho Falls. In time, my son was handling the Japanese rod without any assistance from me, and when he connected with his first bull-trout—a beautiful 10-inch fish that hit a Royal Coachman in a foot of water—he beamed from under the brim of his hat. North Fork “CDA” fish aren’t as big as some of the trout in the rest of the state, but they’re numerous and you can have a field day with a dry-dropper setup. Best Idaho Fly Fishing Rivers Idaho has 17 fly fish spots. We’ll start with a bit from Chapter 2 that explains what the book is about, and then move one to one of the waters he describes. There are plenty of ways to divide Idaho into regions, but when it comes to fly fishing, those four regions make the most sense to us. For years, my family made a habit of camping at the Mill Creek campground in Sawmill Canyon sometime around the Fourth of July weekend—and we had the campground all to ourselves most of the time. Fishing the Ranch is a near-religious experience for many devout fly fishermen, and it’s a pristine stretch of gin-clear, slow-moving water that is home to prolific hatches and giant trout – there’s not much more you could possibly ask for. Here is a comprehensive look at Idaho’s best fly fishing rivers. As the bull trout grows larger their diet begins to consist of other fish species. This season typically runs from mid-May to late-June, and you’ll see some of the biggest fish on the river caught during this time of year. During the summer months they eat their way up the system before entering small tributaries to spawn in September. But the real secrets of Idaho are still out there, awaiting the wandering fisher who, armed with a 3-weight and a box of dry flies, can literally step back in time and experience the best of Idaho. The brookies, too, are aggressive and very respectable. Formally called Harriman State Park, the Ranch is situated far upstream of the lower river, and offers dry fly anglers a taste of heaven. This is a very unique river: It’s very slow-moving and requires a certain degree of stealthiness to effectively fish. As the summer progresses, switch to attractor dries, like Stimulators, Adams and Royal Coachmans. When I set out to write this book, I heard a lot of people gasp at the notion of sharing “secret waters” with anyone willing to drop a few bucks at Amazon. Anglers chase rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout around the winding river and shore fishing opportunities with a fly rod are plentiful on the Little Salmon River. Summer steelhead on the Clearwater typically arrive later in the season than they do in Oregon and Washington’s rivers – this is due to the Clearwater’s geographic location – but once they arrive, the season can stretch on for many months. High in the river’s headwaters, the road up Sawmill canyon comes to an end, and the only way to get to the water is walk among the willows and the downed timber left behind from a fire some years back. Rather, I’ve simply offered general directions and the page number in the Idaho edition of DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazetteer. It is best fished by boat – bank anglers will find it very tough to find quality access and safe wading here, as the Henry’s Fork is a very wide river. The best fishing on the Green River is in … I think you’ll come to love it, too. Bull Trout are incredibly powerful and challenging fish making an angler give his best to land them. If you’re visiting the state’s more famous neighbor, Montana, don’t pass Idaho up. It is no secret that bull trout are in trouble across much of their range, but they are still found in fishable numbers in parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.. Owyhee River is a gem of a fly fishing stream. If you’re interested in giving it a try, use a tenkara rod—the Little Lost is the ideal experimental laboratory for this method of fly fishing, and, if you’re like me, once you try it, you’ll want to keep trying it. If you’re looking for a great trout river in Northern Idaho, the St. Joe is a great alternative to the North Fork Coeur D’Alene. Bull trout have a lot of restrictions around them in the United States. Higher up, go light with a 3- or 4-weight rod and floating line. This location is absolutely beautiful and is the perfect fishing getaway. The St. Joe is best fished during the early summer and early fall, when flows are reasonable but hot summer temperatures haven’t put a damper on the fishing. Truly, this is completely subjective, a thought which is beautiful in its own right. I certainly believe that to be true. The Big Wood River is a classic Idaho stream, open and wide with numerous trout species eager to rise to dry flies. More information: Fishing Silver Creek in Central Idaho. The Northwest region of the United States is undoubtedly the best region for cold-water fly fishing region in the country. Your email address will not be published. True, the Owyhee joins the Snake River on the Oregon side of the border, but it deserves a spot on this list since Boise is the closest major city to the river and plenty of people in the know cross the border to fish this stream. The bull trout found in the Little Lost are actually native to the river, trapped here by a combination of lava flows to the south (the lava flows that created Craters of the Moon National Monument are only about 2,000 years old) and upwelling to the north. And, without a reel or the need to manage line, it removes some of the complexities from the craft without taking away from the enjoyment of fly fishing. Add that to the large numbers of trout per mile and you have arguably the most productive trout river in the country. The Idaho state record was caught in 1949—when the harvesting of bull trout was legal—in Lake Pend Oreille, and weighed a whopping 32 pounds. Western Idaho is a popular locale both for fly fishermen in the region and those who make the trip from Oregon and Washington, and the South Fork of the Boise River is a particularly popular spot. These, of course are the real secret waters of Idaho. Bull trout are widespread in Idaho, mostly in rivers and streams, but they can also found in lakes and reservoirs. There are some unique aspects of fishing the sinks that most anglers won’t consider—not because they’re not interested, but because the natural history of these water is not well-known. Cameron was 10 when he and I made the drive to the Little Lost. True to its name, Idaho’s Salmon River is one of the few rivers in the state that gets annual runs of salmon and steelhead. This is the bull trout that the author had been dreaming about. There are multiple stretches of this river drainage that are popular with fly fishermen. And that’s why I feel that I can writ… If big fish and stealthy dry fly takes are your thing, check out Silver Creek – it’s a great challenge. “Like” us on Facebook. The Upper Lost River, above MacKay Reservoir and well upstream, is home to four species of trout and is a smaller river that’s very productive during the summer. Smaller resident fish remain near the areas where they were spawned while larger, migratory, fish will move considerable distances to spawn when habitat conditions allow. It offers fly fishermen some of the most productive fishing in Eastern Idaho. That said, when fishing for westslope cutthroat trout on a particular Idaho panhandle river one knows that, despite being pretty rare, bull trout do inhabit these waters. Gear The Little Salmon River stretches about 51 miles along the western portion of the state. DIET: Juvenile bull trout, during their first year of life, feed primarily on small aquatic invertebrates. The river is most commonly fished from Ashton downstream to St. Anthony. Idaho truly does offer fly fishermen some of the best opportunities in the country when it comes to spectacular trout fishing. First, it’s likely that at least some of the sinks drainages were fishless before trout were introduced into them. It’s nearly the polar opposite of faster-flowing freestone streams like the St. Joe and the Coeur D’Alene, and that uniqueness is one of the reasons it’s so popular. A slow-moving, gin-clear piece of water, Silver Creek attracts fly fishermen in pursuit of large trout from all across the globe. Some anglers argue that it has the best trout fishing in the whole country, especially the tailwater directly below Flaming Gorge Dam. The Idaho catch-and-release record was landed in the Salmon River and measured 23.5 inches in length, though rumors abound of significantly larger specimens being landed. Although they typically average in the 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches. Secrets? The best Idaho fly fishing based on popularity are considered to be Big Creek, Selway River, Kelly Creek, St Joe River, and South Fork Snake River. Idaho angler catches record bull trout. December 1st, 2013. This stretch of the river is strictly regulated and opens on June 15th. Bull trout exhibit 3 life history types in Idaho: adfluvial, fluvial and resident, all which require temperatures <16 C (<60 F) during portions of their life cycle to persist. Home to introduced rainbow and brook trout and the state’s most unique population of native bull trout, the Little Lost is perhaps my favorite destination fishery within just a few hours of home in Idaho Falls. Technically, there’s no connection between the Little Lost and the Snake River below Shoshone Falls (where bull trout would be considered native). South Fork of the Boise River. The Missouri River, below Holter Dam, is a tailwater system with consistent flows and water temps making it the perfect environment for trout to thrive. We fished the upper reaches of the river most of afternoon and into the evening, wandering well away from the end of the road and relishing a slice of Idaho backcountry that will remain special—to both of us—for years to come. The Little Lost River is one of Idaho’s true small-water treasures, and while it’s surprisingly accessible, it doesn’t see much pressure. If you ever have the chance, I’ll wager you’ll find the Little Lost to be just as special. Secret fishing spots, they said, are paid for in shoe leather and cold January nights spent combing over the gazetteer. Copyright 2021, The Orvis Company Inc. This lower stretch of the river holds some very large rainbow trout, and since it’s a tailwater, the fishing is more consistent year-round. The Henry’s Fork is a premier trout river with worldwide renown. Once these streams—others include Birch Creek and Medicine Bow Creek—hit the porous ground of the desert, they “sink” into the lava-laden earth and don’t reappear until they come out of the ground near the Thousand Springs area near Hagerman. Certainly a little map won’t hurt the average angler—in fact, my hope is that it will inspire anglers to find blue lines on the map that I haven’t mentioned. We knew Like many rivers in Idaho, the Teton offers splendid biological diversity – rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout are all present in the river and will happily take a wide range of dry flies and nymphs. Montana and Idaho are about the only places to find them in the US but they are not widespread like they are in Canada. Silver Creek is in tight contention with the Henry’s Fork (a river we’ll mention later on in the article) for being the most famous and productive stretch of water in all of Idaho. But in Idaho, where bull trout live mostly in undeveloped wilderness or mountain areas, there wasn’t much worry for the fish. They probably prefer the tailouts because this gives them a full perspective of the pool and a great advantage if a wounded or dying fish comes their way. Often bull trout will hang in the back half of the pool. From the expansive, world-famous rivers of Montana to high desert creeks in Central Oregon, the Northwest is a magical place for fly fishermen. The entire known extent of Bruneau River phlox in Idaho occurs within approximately 35 miles on the Bruneau, West Fork of the Bruneau and Jarbidge Rivers. Many people like to camp along the banks of the river – if you are camping, follow local rules and make sure to minimize your environmental footprint as much as possible! 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