Across Idaho, there are plenty of places to catch large trout. Secret waters are proprietary, I was told. Either way, bull trout live in this isolated drainage, and they enjoy the protection they deserve in these waters. 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. The environment of Silver Creek is favorable for all kinds of bug life, and both brown and rainbow trout grow extremely large in the creek. 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. Want to Bag A Bull Trout? More information: Fishing Silver Creek in Central Idaho. The river is extremely popular, and you’ll no doubt be joined by plenty of other fly fishermen if you decide to fish the Owyhee. 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. Higher up, go light with a 3- or 4-weight rod and floating line. Bull trout may live near areas where they were spawned or migrate from small streams to larger streams and rivers or from streams to lakes, reservoirs or salt water. Anglers from all across the country make their way to Idaho for the chance to fish blue-ribbon trout streams at the feet of picturesque mountains and rolling landscapes. By Gary Lewis. They’re most common in coldwater rivers, which in summer often means upper-elevation streams. There are multiple stretches of this river drainage that are popular with fly fishermen. Written by: Evan Williams. If it gives one angler the motivation to write a letter to Congress or craft a letter to the editor of her local paper when that action is needed to protect the backcountry and our Idaho way of life, it’s worth it. 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. pocket water but fish >1 year selected deeper pools while resting (Wydoski and Whitney 2003). There’s so much water in Idaho that the waters I’ll describe in this book will truly amount to giving anglers a short head start on their own journey to discover backcountry treasures filled with wild fish and experiences we all thrive to uncover. 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. While we do find them in the head and gut of the pull, more often than not I feel like the tailout is the best, especially if there is structure like the above mentioned. Bull trout inhabit both forks of the Jarbidge River, as well as several tributaries. This is the secret Idaho. Although they typically average in the 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches. Located outside of Victor in eastern Idaho, the Teton River offers some of the finest fly fishing and scenery that the state has to offer. It’s possible that some geological event—this portion of Idaho is seismically lively, and some of the nearby lava fields are only 2,000 years old—separated the Little Lost (and its fish) from the Pahsimeroi, creating an isolated population of bull trout in the Little Lost River. DIET: Juvenile bull trout, during their first year of life, feed primarily on small aquatic invertebrates. One of the most attractive aspects of this trip was the promise at another native species: the Westslope Cutthroat trout. Detected bull trout were over deep water habitat ranging from 8.0 to 42.6 m. Actual fish depths were shallower, ranging from 0.0 to 24.5 m. The last acoustic-tagged bull trout was detected on June 1, 2012. What’s more, our backcountry and our backcountry trout deserve the appreciation of anglers who, without a bit encouragement, might not venture very far from the blacktop to chase fish. The monster fish was reeled in by Sawyer Livesey while fishing on the Kootenai River near Bonner's Ferry on April 8. Credit: Sawyer Livesey. The rainbows in Sawmill Canyon are absolutely gorgeous—they sport a deep red stripe down their sides, and they’re very aggressive, both when chasing streamers and dry flies. Best Idaho Fly Fishing Rivers Idaho has 17 fly fish spots. We knew I go there every year not only for the fish but the vast opportunities of the outdoors and to visit the old mines it is my home away from home that’s the only place I go camping . If you do this, you’ll find something much more valuable that secret fishing holes… you’ll find the Idaho I adore. They are some of the largest growing freshwater salmonids in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. Often bull trout will hang in the back half of the pool. The river goes on for 137 stunning miles, and is known to contain rainbow, brown, and brook trout. DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer, Idaho Edition. Although they typically average in the 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches. But in Idaho, where bull trout live mostly in undeveloped wilderness or mountain areas, there wasn’t much worry for the fish. 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. The average bull trout tagged in Arrowrock Reservoir swam more than 50 miles before … This form of fly fishing allows the angler, in close quarters, to present a fly to wary fish with nothing but the fly on the water. The same can be said of the nearby Henrys Fork, world-renowned for its challenging dry fly wade fishing for big rainbow trout. The explanations vary. The Owyhee River is a gem of a fly fishing stream that we’ve written about on this site in the past, and it’s worth a look if you like big brown trout in a small tailwater setting. There are a lot of fishable streams out there. Idaho truly does offer fly fishermen some of the best opportunities in the country when it comes to spectacular trout fishing. What defines one’s “best fishing” experience? Bull trout need water that’s 60 degrees or cooler, and water that’s around 54 … August 7, 2020. From the expansive, world-famous rivers of Montana to high desert creeks in Central Oregon, the Northwest is a magical place for fly fishermen. 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. If people want to discover great backcountry fishing, let them pour over maps on their own. In this stretch, the fish get a bit bigger, and trophy trout fishing becomes a real possibility, particularly for rainbows. Some of the things you can do to help are: Observe the catch and release policy. 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. It can be found on pages 38, 39 and 46 of the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer, Idaho Edition. As an added bonus, its proximity to Oregon and Washington makes it a doable weekend trip if you’re up for the drive. Bull trout populations in the Middle and North Forks of the Boise River use Arrowrock Reservoir for foraging habitat during the winter, then travel to headwaters of this drainage to spawn. 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. In typical bull trout style, these fish began leaving Arrowrock Reservoir in May with movements more like a marathon than a sprint. 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. According to Picabo Angler, the river is best in spring and summer; mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis hatches abound, making the Big Wood river a summertime paradise for fly fishermen. It’s a smaller river, filled with slow-moving stretches and fast-moving pockets alike, and it’s home to some very large trout. If salmon and steelhead aren’t your thing, the Salmon River isn’t your best bet in Western Idaho, but you will find some cutthroat trout throughout the river, and these native trout can be easily caught on a variety of attractor patterns. Bull trout are a sensitive species and while it's fun to get out and fish for them, they are almost always zero-retention and I'm going to do what I can to minimize my impact. But in this stretch of water, even when fishing with dry flies (bull trout are notorious piscivores—they eat other fish), catching a bull trout is a very real possibility. Your email address will not be published. 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. I certainly believe that to be true. Chinook salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout make up the majority of the fish populations in the Salmon River. 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. Like the Salmon River, the Clearwater is one of the few rivers in Idaho that offers a steelhead run. Some anglers argue that it has the best trout fishing in the whole country, especially the tailwater directly below Flaming Gorge Dam. The Little Lost River is a sinks stream that flows south out of the Beaverhead Mountains toward the little village of Howe, Idaho. Second, there’s an ongoing debate over how bull trout ended up in the Little Lost River. Population densities were estimated at 10–20 fish per km (0.62 mi) in 1996. It’s a popular spot for Inland Northwest anglers who don’t want to have to travel all the way to Oregon or Washington for seasonal steelhead and salmon runs. The river’s brook trout are likely the product of an organized introduction effort on the part of fisheries managers years and years ago. And some of these native char get quite large for the water they occupy—a few years back, my son Cameron caught one on a grasshopper pattern that pushed 17 inches (as per Idaho law, the fish was quickly released). Here is a comprehensive look at Idaho’s best fly fishing rivers. Years ago, when the first settlers came to the Little Lost River Valley, it’s possible that they transplanted fish from the Pahsimeroi into the fishless Little Lost. That would explain the presence of bull trout, and perhaps the rainbows (are the Little Lost’s rainbows the progeny of Salmon River steelhead?) South Fork of the Boise River. 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. The brookies, too, are aggressive and very respectable. It could be easily argued that protecting it in perpetuity is in the best interest of every angler willing to step off the pavement in Idaho and explore a little bit. It offers just as many fantastic fly fishing opportunities as anywhere else in the Northwest, and often with a fraction of the people. Okay, okay, forgive me if that’s completely obvious. The South Fork is one of the top blue-ribbon trout streams in the state of Idaho, if not the nation. 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. Required fields are marked *, Pingback: FLY FISHING IDAHO’S SECRET WATERS by CHRIS HUNT | Upland Ways, Pingback: 5 Questions with Chris Hunt: The Voice of Trout Unlimited | Orvis News. This small population is on the southern edge of the species' range, and is isolated from other populations of bull trout in southern Idaho, increasing their sensitivity to changes in habitat. The Northwest region of the United States is undoubtedly the best region for cold-water fly fishing region in the country. For me—and for my son—this place is magical. The fish in the river’s canyon stretch—and “river” is misleading—are stunning and can push 15 inches or so. Hatches continue throughout the summer, and some fly fishermen prefer to target the stillwater stretches above the various reservoirs on the river; these sections of slow-moving water are known to hold brown trout 30 inches-plus. Anglers—and hunters—are more and more important in the conservation discussion all across America. Visit Idaho notes that the river is “one of the most famous rivers” in Western Idaho, and for good reason. 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 it’s yours. Carter Reschke is a freelance writer based in Bend, Oregon. Gear 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. The Big Wood River is a classic Idaho stream, open and wide with numerous trout species eager to rise to dry flies. Idaho is a one-of-a-kind fly fishing state, and it should be a destination near the top of every fly fisherman’s list. 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. They mainly occur in deep pools of large, cold, rivers and lakes. Farther downstream, the river exits Sawmill Canyon and flows south along a stretch of idyllic Western landscape dotted with sage. First, it’s likely that at least some of the sinks drainages were fishless before trout were introduced into them. Located in the US, the fly fishing in Idaho offers over fifteen scenic trout rivers spots. 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. We opted to go out of country to see what these fish really had to offer. But, perhaps to satisfy any potential critics—or at least to partially salve their concerns—I’ve refrained from offering specific instructions to the places I’ll describe in the pages to come. They are in most river drainages in central and northern Idaho that flow into the Snake and Columbia rivers. It’s a river that can sometimes get overlooked due to its arguably more popular neighboring river in Oregon, the Owyhee, but the South Fork is a great piece of water that offers plenty of opportunities for fly fishermen chasing big trout. 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. These, of course are the real secret waters of Idaho. 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. Preferred temperatures are normally <12 C (<54 F), Juveniles use runs, riffles and . “Like” us on Facebook. 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 Little Lost’s trout aren’t terribly picky—a theme you’ll find among most backcountry trout. Enjoy this head start—or as my son would say, the “cheat code.” I think you’ll find it valuable, but I hope, rather than just fishing the places I’ll describe in the pages to come, you’ll be inspired to wander up lonely trails along those blue lines on the map. But, for me, it’s the backcountry stretch of the Little Lost and a couple of it tributaries that draw me back year after year. For streamers and fat hoppers, use a 5-weight with floating line. The St. Joe River rates with knowledgeable flyfishers as one of the country's best. 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.. If you do decide to fish the Owyhee, be mindful of other fly fishermen and make sure to use proper etiquette. Technically, there’s no connection between the Little Lost and the Snake River below Shoshone Falls (where bull trout would be considered native). Hatches are prolific, and you’ll see fish rising for mayflies, midges, and a host of other insects throughout the day. At 120 miles, the St. Joe river is a long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities. A slow-moving, gin-clear piece of water, Silver Creek attracts fly fishermen in pursuit of large trout from all across the globe. The river is most commonly fished from Ashton downstream to St. Anthony. The region sees heavy snowfall during the winter, which can make fishing tricky. Silver Creek isn’t a river for beginners – the slow-moving and gin-clear nature of the stream make it a difficult stream to fish, even for experts, and a guided trip is a good idea if it’s your first time. If big fish and stealthy dry fly takes are your thing, check out Silver Creek – it’s a great challenge. Its season generally runs from Memorial Day through November, but there are certain parts of the river open year-round for catch and release. With clear greenish waters and red canyons, the Green River is a stunning locale in northeast Utah. The Little Lost River Pinch your barbs or fish barbless hooks, keep the fish in the water and keep the time spent playing the fish to a minimum. Make sure to handle the bull trout the least amount possible. This is a very unique river: It’s very slow-moving and requires a certain degree of stealthiness to effectively fish. Be sure to check local regulations before you head out, as they can change year-to-year. All 9 million acres of it on U.S. Forest Service land, and millions more found on Bureau of Land Management property belong to every single American as a birthright. The Teton stretches for more than 80 miles, winding through mountainous terrain and meadows as it makes its way toward the Henry’s Fork. At 120 miles, the St. Joe river is a long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities. Bull trout are widespread in Idaho, mostly in rivers and streams, but they can also found in lakes and reservoirs. Best Fishing in America will update and enhance articles to provide the best information to our readers. The rainbows in Sawmill Canyon are absolutely gorgeous—they sport a deep red stripe down their … 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. This hidden little river is one of several “sinks” streams in southern Idaho that begin as snowmelt and spring water in the Beaverhead Mountains along the crotch of the pregnant “L” in Idaho and flow out onto the Big Desert near the much-maligned Idaho National Laboratory. Missouri River is arguably one of the best trout rivers in Montana, if not the best? Whether the mountainous, forest region of Northern Idaho is calling your name or you’re more drawn to the wide-open expanses to the east, there’s something for everyone here. 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. If you’re visiting the state’s more famous neighbor, Montana, don’t pass Idaho up. The geologic unrest separated the Little Lost River from the Pahsimeroi River to the north, creating a unique population of the threatened native char. Later in the summer, particularly in the valley of the river, go with high-floating foam hoppers, beetles and ants. Passionate about the outdoors, Carter is a fly fishing aficionado and spends his days on the river when he’s not writing. Truly, though, fishing has always been about much more than catching fish, or at least since that first fisherman stayed to catch a few extra or make “one last cast.” But what makes our collective experience as anglers worth all the time, effort, and money we put into our sport? Montana and Idaho are about the only places to find them in the US but they are not widespread like they are in Canada. Your email address will not be published. The fish in the river’s canyon stretch—and “river” is misleading—are stunning and can push 15 inches or so. This stretch of the river is strictly regulated and opens on June 15th. The notion I prefer to believe is that, at one time, eons ago, the Little Lost River was actually a tributary to the Pahsimeroi River, which flows north into the Salmon River where bull trout are native. [Editor’s Note: My friend Chris Hunt, National Communications Director at Trout Unlimited, has just published a book called Fly Fishing Idaho’s Secret Waters, so I asked him if we could post an excerpt. Don’t miss Northwest fishing news! As always, be sure to check current regulations before you head out – salmon and steelhead fisheries have more fickle seasons than trout fisheries do. The North Fork Coeur D’Alene is the pinnacle of what you’d expect from a Northern Idaho river: It’s pretty small, runs through forests and mountains, and the fish aren’t particularly picky. 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. Photos and Story: A Big, Bad Idaho Bull Trout Author Orvis Staff Posted on September 19, 2014 February 25, 2016 Categories Fly Fishing Tags fly-fishing for bull trout, fly-fishing photos, idaho fly fishing. 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. Much like the other rivers in Northern Idaho, westslope cutthroat are the primary target here. Flies It’s where my son, Cameron, learned how to use a tenkara fly rod—a Japanese fly rod that’s long and supple and doesn’t have a reel. More information: Fishing the Henry’s Fork River. 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. Because of their size they are often fearless, taking enormous flies with reckless abandon. This is a river that’s best fished in the summer through the fall. 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. The other explanation is much less romantic (but just as likely, if not more so). Bull trout are widespread in Idaho, mostly in rivers and streams, but they can also found in lakes and reservoirs. Idaho angler catches record bull trout. The more anglers who experience the backcountry, the more allies our wild fish have when it comes time to beat back a bad idea or stand up to those who don’t share our conservation values. Cameron was 10 when he and I made the drive to the Little Lost. Imagine the beauty and the untracked, untrashed places where wild fish swim. “Idaho has some of the best bull trout habitat in their range as well as some areas that have challenges where management is trying to address those challenges and tackle them,” he said. Rather, I’ve simply offered general directions and the page number in the Idaho edition of DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazetteer. In this article, we’re breaking down the state into four distinct regions: Northern Idaho, Western Idaho, Central Idaho, and Eastern Idaho. Formally called Harriman State Park, the Ranch is situated far upstream of the lower river, and offers dry fly anglers a taste of heaven. Make sure you carefully check the regulations before you go out. Parachute Adams, stimulators and pheasant tails are all excellent patterns to try out on the North Fork. 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. Bull Trout are incredibly powerful and challenging fish making an angler give his best to land them. 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). The river—little more than a trickle by late summer—is alive with feisty rainbow trout and bull trout, and they’ll both hit high-floating dry flies with little hesitation. The Clearwater is known for producing giant steelhead, and the run is famous with anglers from across the country. If we protect them and help get the numbers up, they will be here for future generations to enjoy fishing for. Higher up, simply use smaller versions—the terrestrial hatch all along the Little Lost in late summer is prolific. 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. If you live in or near Idaho—or if you plan to head their to fish—this is one book you won’t want to miss.]. 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