Our fishing guide Kyle left us for a few days and spent a short vacation fly fishing near his home-town. He sent us a picture of his amazing Brown Trout, and we thought it was something special and should be told to everyone! Which is why we asked him to tell us about his vacation, below is Kyle’s writing about fly fishing in Idaho.
Fly Fishing in Idaho by Kyle Glass
For me, the greatest draw to this beautiful and diverse state has been the trout fishing. Since I was very young, I can remember catching trout on my fly rod in the crystal clear streams of Idaho. As I have grown up, I have become attracted to bigger fish; Idaho has that to offer too.
There are tiny headwater streams that feed emerald blue lakes that dot the high mountains, teeming with eager cutthroat and brook trout. There are rich and fertile spring creeks such as Silver Creek and the Henrys Fork that are legendary the world over for their hard fighting, well educated rainbow trout.
Large tailwaters and massive hydroelectric and storage dams create an environment where trout grow very quickly. Many Stillwater opportunities exist for anglers in this state as well, whether they prefer to chase the enormous Lake trout and Kamloops trout of Pend Orielle or Coeur D’Alene lakes to the north, or the chunky Brook trout of Henrys Lake.
Surging rivers like the Salmon, Clearwater, and Snake receive returning Salmon and Steelhead that create a unique fishery; Idaho is the only inland state with these fish.
I have become totally enamored with the Steelhead that returns to the Salmon River. Most begin their journey from the ocean between July and September. As they migrate toward their natal waters to spawn, the cross 8 dams, swim upstream over 900 miles, gaining more than a vertical mile in elevation. By October, they have made it to the area around the town of Salmon, where they over-winter.
When the ice begins to thaw in February the migration continues upstream as far as the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley.
Steelhead spawn from March into June. Over the course of this journey, they do not feed; yet they can readily be taken on both fly and conventional tackle as they aggressively strike at flies, lures, and bait. Maybe it is their enormous size, or their hard fight, or perhaps there is something romantic about the life cycle of these fish that attracts me to these hard-charging, seafaring rainbow trout. In any case, if you are looking for me in any free time I have between October and the end of the Steelhead season in April, look no further than the Salmon River.
There is just something special about catching Native trout… fish that may not have ever seen or taken another angler’s offering before; with brilliant colors and perfect proportions… it really gets me going!
The Lemhi River truly embodies this fishery. There are no stocked trout in the stream. Each fish you catch was born there, has lived through ice choked winters, the floods of spring, and predators like osprey and eagles. The Lemhi -River is home to two main species of Trout- protected bull trout, which are highly predatory and have been recorded at lengths of 28” here, and the Redband trout. Redband trout are a strain of rainbow native to the basin. They readily take dry flies, or aggressively take streamers.
When hooked, these trout explode on the water’s surface, careening and tailwalking in an effort to throw the hook and escape (often leaving experienced anglers shaking their heads after a very brief encounter punctuated with their fly in the bushes and the wily trout swimming away untouched) You may also catch a very rare fish, a Chinook Salmon Parr. There remains a token wild return of Chinook to the Lemhi River, though the run is very diminished and closed to fishing. A parr is a 1-3 year old Chinook that has not yet migrated to the ocean.
Though less than 10 inches, these fish are a prize; they are nickel bright and a testament to the perseverance of a hearty species despite all odds.
Fly Fishing is my passion. So many things contribute to this… the beautiful place it takes me, the incredible fish, the thrill and excitement of catching the big one, trying to outwit trout… anyway, enough of this, I am going fishing.
See you out there!!!
Steelhead, Trout, and Rafting Guide