Top 3 Fly Fishing Rivers in Idaho
Several of the most famous fly fishing waters in the country flow through Idaho. The eastern border with Montana and Wyoming is geographically defined by the Continental Divide where the cold clean headwaters of the major Northwest rivers flow off the Rocky Mountains. This region provides anglers a lifetime of trout fisheries to explore.
Here is an introduction to the 3 best fly fishing rivers in Idaho:
Middle Fork of the Salmon River
Chinook Salmon (no fishing season)
Steelhead (no fishing season)
Mountain White Fish
Region: Central Idaho Wilderness
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows 109 miles from the north end of the Sawtooth Mountains (near Stanley Idaho) to its confluence with the Main Salmon River (near Salmon Idaho). The Middle Fork cuts through the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area, and is one of the most pristine wild and scenic rivers in the country. The river flows through the Impassable Canyon which is the third deepest canyon in the country. Since it’s in the middle of an enormous wilderness area, it’s important to consider access to the river. The best way to fish the Middle Fork is to float from Boundary Cr (or Indian Cr later in the season) either on a private trip with experienced boaters or on a guided trip. The other ways to access the Middle Fork are to hire a backcountry air service to fly you into one of the few airstrips along the river, or to take the trails on foot or horseback (20 miles minimum to get to the river) from the trailheads surrounding the edge of the wilderness boundary.
About the River
The Middle Fork has been a catch & release, single barbless hook, wild fishery since 1973. The Middle Fork has one of the highest density population of wild cutthroat trout population over a 100+ mile section of river of anywhere in the world. The Middle Fork is famous for dry fly fishing. There are 3 major tributaries (Big Creek, Camas Creek and Loon Creek) that are also productive cutthroat and rainbow fisheries. There are wild Chinook and Steelhead that travel over 900 miles to and from the ocean to spawn on the Middle Fork.
Fishing Regulations for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Henry’s Fork of the Snake
Region: Eastern Idaho
Some of the best fly water in the country flows westward from the Teton & Yellowstone Mountains, where ribbons of aquatic life stream into the desert of Eastern Idaho. The Teton River, The Henry’s Fork and the South Fork of the Snake (ordered from smallest to largest) are the three major headwaters of the mighty Snake River. Their confluence is near Rexburg, Idaho. The most prestigious is the Henry’s Fork, although a trip to Eastern Idaho mandates an adventure on each of these unique fly waters (as well as Henry’s Lake).
About The River:
Henry’s Fork is famous for large Brown and Rainbow trout, thick hatches, and technical presentations (dry and subsurface). There are 3 major sections of the Henry’s Fork: Henry’s Lake to Island Park Reservoir (including the confluence with Big Spring), from Island Park Reservoir to Mesa Falls, and below Mesa Falls. Of the 130 miles between Henry’s Lake to the confluence with the Snake River, the middle section (including Box Canyon and Railroad Ranch) is the most acclaimed.
Rules & Regulations on Henry’s Fork of the Snake.
South Fork of the Boise
Brooke Trout (above Anderson Ranch Reservoir)
Kokanee (above Anderson Ranch Reservoir)
Smallmouth Bass (near confluence with Arrowrock Reservoir)
Region: Southwest Idaho
The headwaters of the South Fork of the Boise River flow off the south and west slopes of the Sawtooth Mountains and the Smoky Mountains. The upper and lower sections are separated by Anderson Ranch reservoir.
About the River:
The most popular and productive section for fly fishing is the tailwater between Anderson Dam Reservoir and the Blacks Cr. Bridge. From the dam to Danskin Bridge provides easy road access. The canyon section below Danskin Bridge provides some fantastic and less pressured trout water, but can only be accessed by a committing and challenging float. The South Fork of the Boise doesn’t have the prestige of Idaho’s traditionally acclaimed trout waters (such as Henry’s Fork, Silver Creek, South Fork of the Snake, The Middle Fork if the Salmon, or Kelly Creek), but this cold tailwater holds some of the largest rainbows in the state for a river of its size. Along with the Owyhee River, this is a popular day trip destination for Boise anglers.
Rules & Regulations on the South Fork of the Boise.