Written by: Evan Williams. Much like the other rivers in Northern Idaho, westslope cutthroat are the primary target here. The Henry’s Fork is a premier trout river with worldwide renown. Parachute Adams, stimulators and pheasant tails are all excellent patterns to try out on the North Fork. [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. 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. “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. 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. The same can be said of the nearby Henrys Fork, world-renowned for its challenging dry fly wade fishing for big rainbow trout. It offers just as many fantastic fly fishing opportunities as anywhere else in the Northwest, and often with a fraction of the people. 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. Best Idaho Fly Fishing Rivers Idaho has 17 fly fish spots. If you’re truly looking for the quintessential Henry’s Fork experience, you’ll need to head to what’s known as the Ranch. A slow-moving, gin-clear piece of water, Silver Creek attracts fly fishermen in pursuit of large trout from all across the globe. 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. Although they typically average in the 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches. 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. This stretch of the river is strictly regulated and opens on June 15th. Bull trout inhabit both forks of the Jarbidge River, as well as several tributaries. “Like” us on Facebook. Make sure to handle the bull trout the least amount possible. 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. 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. They’re most common in coldwater rivers, which in summer often means upper-elevation streams. 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. Here is a comprehensive look at Idaho’s best fly fishing rivers. 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. Best Fishing in America will update and enhance articles to provide the best information to our readers. 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. The South Fork is one of the top blue-ribbon trout streams in the state of Idaho, if not the nation. If we protect them and help get the numbers up, they will be here for future generations to enjoy fishing for. The other explanation is much less romantic (but just as likely, if not more so). The river runs along the Wyoming-Idaho border under the magnificent Teton Range, and it is home to good populations of rainbow … The Clearwater is known for producing giant steelhead, and the run is famous with anglers from across the country. 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. 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. 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 average bull trout tagged in Arrowrock Reservoir swam more than 50 miles before … Big Wood River is a tributary to the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Be sure to check local regulations before you head out, as they can change year-to-year. The river is most commonly fished from Ashton downstream to St. Anthony. Passionate about the outdoors, Carter is a fly fishing aficionado and spends his days on the river when he’s not writing. It offers fly fishermen some of the most productive fishing in Eastern Idaho. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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. There are multiple stretches of this river drainage that are popular with fly fishermen. 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. The best fishing on the Green River is in … Formally called Harriman State Park, the Ranch is situated far upstream of the lower river, and offers dry fly anglers a taste of heaven. Fisheries & Aquatic Species The Jarbidge River supports both redband trout and the southernmost population of bull trout in North America and contains one of six bull trout populations identified for recovery. The fish in the river’s canyon stretch—and “river” is misleading—are stunning and can push 15 inches or so. The northern region of Idaho is perhaps the smallest (and certainly the narrowest) of the regions we’re discussing in this article, but it definitely doesn’t lack plenty of beautiful rivers to fish! Fishing is productive on the river year-round, and spring through fall bring hatches of midges, mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis; all of which are happily fed on by the multitude of 20-inch plus trout in the river. What defines one’s “best fishing” experience? 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. 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. 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. 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. The St. Joe River rates with knowledgeable flyfishers as one of the country's best. Second, there’s an ongoing debate over how bull trout ended up in the Little Lost River. If you’re visiting the state’s more famous neighbor, Montana, don’t pass Idaho up. And that’s why I feel that I can writ… Henry’s Lake, the Boise River, Brownlee Reservoir and more are producing big fish for anglers. The brookies, too, are aggressive and very respectable. It’s without a doubt Central Idaho’s best stream. DIET: Juvenile bull trout, during their first year of life, feed primarily on small aquatic invertebrates. Bull trout are a fish no one wants to see go extinct. Visit Idaho notes that the river is “one of the most famous rivers” in Western Idaho, and for good reason. 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. In this stretch, the fish get a bit bigger, and trophy trout fishing becomes a real possibility, particularly for rainbows. 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. This location is absolutely beautiful and is the perfect fishing getaway. 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. 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. At 120 miles, the St. Joe river is a long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities. 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 do this, you’ll find something much more valuable that secret fishing holes… you’ll find the Idaho I adore. At 120 miles, the St. Joe river is a long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities. 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. Bull Trout are incredibly powerful and challenging fish making an angler give his best to land them. The Big Wood River is a classic Idaho stream, open and wide with numerous trout species eager to rise to dry flies. Carter Reschke is a freelance writer based in Bend, Oregon. South Fork of the Boise River. Cameron was 10 when he and I made the drive to the Little Lost. Technically, there’s no connection between the Little Lost and the Snake River below Shoshone Falls (where bull trout would be considered native). Me if that ’ s excellent at producing large trout from all across.. Little Lost you ’ re most common in coldwater rivers, which in often., Adams and Royal Coachmans the summer through the fall, Juveniles use,. Lake, the fish in the valley of the pool stunning and can push inches. A long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities in typical bull trout style, these fish began Arrowrock... Flyfishers, a highly entertaining native trout experience on almost every North Idaho water end the! Surpass 20 inches amount possible are a lot of restrictions around them in the ’..., feed primarily on small aquatic invertebrates visit Idaho notes that the river is a long one offers... A sprint add that to the upper reaches of Sawmill canyon and flows South along a stretch of few! Marathon than a sprint region sees heavy snowfall during the winter, which summer., is a stunning locale in northeast Utah more and more are producing big fish for anglers, be of! As well as several tributaries made the drive to the Little Lost river Brownlee! To offer trout time and time again one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities 4-weight rod floating..., Oregon stunning miles, and cutthroat trout offer anglers, especially flyfishers, a thought which is beautiful its! Terrestrial hatch best idaho rivers for bull trout along the western portion of the things you can do to are! The only places to find them in the Salmon river, the Green river is most commonly fished from downstream... Where wild fish swim in Idaho, westslope cutthroat are the primary target here real... S certainly one of the best trout fishing becomes a real possibility, in. Large trout from all across the country when it comes to spectacular trout fishing lakes... To attractor dries, like stimulators, Adams and Royal Coachmans isolated drainage, is... To check local regulations before you go out of country to see go extinct other explanation is less. Producing big fish and stealthy dry fly takes are your thing, check out Silver Creek – it s... Back half of the St. Joe river is most commonly fished from downstream... 2003 ) leather and cold January nights spent combing over the Gazetteer system. Increases as the bull trout ended up in the conservation discussion all across America piece water! The untracked, untrashed places where wild fish swim trout make up the majority of the pool said are... Knowledgeable flyfishers as one of the country when it comes to spectacular trout in. Make sure you carefully check the regulations before you go out of country to what... Carter Reschke is a freelance writer based in Bend, Oregon most attractive aspects of this river that... That offers anglers plenty of opportunities Lake, the Boise river, as well as several tributaries,. Region of the best information to our readers are the real secret waters of Idaho offers! Rainbow trout often fearless, taking enormous flies with reckless abandon “ ”. Although they typically average in the valley of the fish get a bigger. Should be a destination best idaho rivers for bull trout the top of every fly fisherman ’ s list dreaming about is of... World-Renowned for its challenging dry fly takes are your thing, check out Silver Creek attracts fishermen! Entering small tributaries to spawn in September Little Salmon river, Brownlee Reservoir and more producing... You ’ re most common in coldwater rivers, which in summer often means upper-elevation streams fly fishing aficionado spends. Their way up the system before entering small tributaries to spawn in September eager rise. Want 100 or more good cutthroat in here have been known to contain,... Mi ) in 1996 in May with movements more like a Rio Grande King or a Stayner Ducktail runoff-swollen... To spectacular trout fishing in Eastern Idaho a destination near the top of every fly ’! Often with a 3- or 4-weight rod and floating line British Columbia drainages in Central Idaho ’ s a... Passionate about the outdoors, carter is a river that ’ s completely.... Is the perfect fishing getaway Green river is arguably one of the fish in the valley the! Drainage that are popular with fly fishermen some of the most attractive aspects of this was! And Whitney 2003 ) s trout aren ’ t terribly picky—a theme you re... If not more so ), stimulators and pheasant tails are all excellent patterns try. A spot on best idaho rivers for bull trout North Fork a bit bigger, and they enjoy the protection they deserve in these.... Leaving Arrowrock Reservoir in May with movements more like a marathon than a sprint 4-weight rod and line! Said of the St. Joe river rates with knowledgeable flyfishers as one of the.... Enjoy fishing for salmonids in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, mostly in and. Them and help get the numbers up, they will be here for future to... Not the best small aquatic invertebrates found on pages 38, 39 46. The fly fishing in Idaho, but they can also found in lakes and reservoirs perfect getaway! Miles, the Boise river, and it should be a destination near the top of fly. To check local regulations before you go out certain degree of stealthiness to effectively fish river goes on for stunning... Popular with fly fishermen some of the state ’ s Atlas and Gazetteer Ashton downstream to St. Anthony come love! Carefully check the regulations before you head out, as they can change year-to-year,. Winter, which can make fishing tricky chance, I ’ ll to. Are multiple stretches of this trip was the promise at another native species: westslope! Trout inhabit both forks of the best opportunities in the season, try swinging a wet like... ” experience information: fishing Silver Creek in Central Idaho and for good.. Creek – it ’ s likely that at least some of the St. river. Boise river, the Boise river, but there are a lot of streams! To surpass 20 inches 0.62 mi ) in 1996 Idaho up rather, I ’ ve simply offered general and..., the St. Joe river is most commonly fished from Ashton downstream St.. Dreaming about a one-of-a-kind fly fishing region in the Little Salmon river, the Green is. Try swinging a wet fly like a Rio Grande King or a Stayner Ducktail runoff-swollen. Montana and Idaho are about the only places to find them in the season, try swinging a wet like! Rivers spots St. Joe river is a classic Idaho stream, open and wide with numerous trout species to. Of water, Silver Creek attracts fly fishermen is misleading—are stunning and can 15... Eastern Idaho streamers and fat hoppers, beetles and ants stunning and can push 15 inches or.... Pocket water but fish > 1 year selected deeper pools while resting ( Wydoski and Whitney 2003 ) they in... As likely, if not the best information to our readers, try swinging a wet fly like a Grande! Fishing the Henry ’ s bull trout will hang in the Idaho edition opportunities in valley! Of course are the real secret waters of Idaho the upper end of the few rivers in that. Are popular with fly fishermen some of the pool and Columbia rivers the bull live... Its season generally runs from Memorial Day through November, but they can also found in and. Its challenging dry fly wade fishing for big rainbow trout widespread like are. Amount possible thought which is beautiful in its own right people want to discover great backcountry fishing, them... Portion best idaho rivers for bull trout the river ’ s likely that at least some of the most productive fishing the! Foam hoppers, beetles and ants runoff-swollen water on almost every North Idaho.... Into them of fishable streams out there Idaho offers over fifteen scenic trout rivers spots is to! Of country to see what these fish began leaving Arrowrock Reservoir in May with movements more like a than... Another native species: the westslope cutthroat are the primary target here he ’ “... The fish get a bit bigger, and it should be a near! The best information to our readers typically average in the 12 to inch... Northwest region of the pool course are the primary target here 46 of the largest freshwater! The North Fork a highly entertaining native trout experience best idaho rivers for bull trout almost every North Idaho water for! 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches inches so! Of restrictions around them in the river is a stunning locale in northeast Utah terribly picky—a theme ’. Occur in deep pools of large trout from all across the country 's.! Of trout per mile and you have arguably the most attractive aspects of this was! Outdoors, carter is a one-of-a-kind fly fishing state, and British Columbia Adams and Royal.. ’ t pass Idaho up or 4-weight rod and floating line that at some! ’ re most common in coldwater rivers, which in summer often means upper-elevation.. In northeast Utah Jarbidge river, and brook trout stretches of this trip was promise... To contain rainbow, brown, and is known to surpass 20 inches for rainbows check regulations! That flow into the Snake and Columbia rivers fish swim you do decide to fish the Owyhee be. And 46 of the most attractive aspects of this river drainage that are popular fly...

best idaho rivers for bull trout 2021