Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork with Salmon River Anglers

Native Westslope Cutthroat Trout found on the Middle Fork
Native Westslope Cutthroat Trout found on the Middle Fork

Middle Fork of the Salmon River review By Justin Pond:

Typical day on the Middle Fork:

“After fishing all day in a 12 ft raft to rising Cutthroats, we ate a gourmet meal of salmon and garlic potatoes. We then made the 1 mile trek to soak ourselves in a perfectly heated natural hot pot with an equally warm waterfall acting as a shower up Loon Creek. The rest of the night consisted of a little Texas Hold Em and good conversation. As I retired to bed, I realized that we were witnessing a perfectly formed utopia where white water rafting met fantastic fishing; an outdoor paradise they call the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.”dwn-river-shot

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows 106 miles through some of the wildest country left in the lower 48 states, directly through the heart of Idaho’s 2.4 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Consequently there are no roads into the area; access is either gained by a hike, a horse ride, flight in by bush plane or by floating all or part of its 106 miles. However the effort exerted will be well worth it as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of the premier fly fishing rivers in the Continental U.S. for native Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout. In order to float this wild & scenic river, one either has to obtain a permit via the Idaho 4 River lottery system or go as a member of a commercially guided trip with any of many licensed outfitters. The Middle Fork Outfitters Association web page is a great reference tool to find an outfitter. Many of the outfitters offer fishing specific trips.

For those that wish to drive directly to the river, the Boundary Creek boat launch area and campground are approximately 50 miles from the town of Stanley. To get there from Stanley take SR 21 Northwest 20 miles to Bear Valley Rd (between mile post 109 and 110) then 26 miles on dirt road until you reach Boundary Creek. From Boundary Creek you can fish either up or down stream. (Dagger Falls is located just upstream. There is also another campground located at Dagger Falls.)



Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork is best from early July through September. (During an average water year, there will simply be too much water to fish effectively before mid July.) I prefer to float the river at water levels between 2 and 2.5 feet. These levels are typically found in late July/early August. Fish will range in size from 10-21 inches with the average fish being in the 12 to 15 inch range. If you float the river, the fish will get bigger as the river increases its flow beneath Big Creek (Big Creek itself is a fantastic fishery). Assuming that the fish cooperate a little, it is not uncommon for the skilled angler to frequently catch more than 50 trout in a day. On this river, even a less than ideal cast can bring a vigorous rise and the crystal clear water allows the angler to watch the underwater action. The fish are willing to take flies on top of water whether there is a hatch on or not. Consequently, the Middle Fork Salmon River is an excellent place to introduce the young or novice angler to the sport of fly fishing.

Give us a call to join Salmon River Anglers (SRA) on our All Inclusive Fly Fishing Trips on the Middle Fork.   Our SRA guides flock from around the world to fish the Middle Fork in September.   Trips will  enjoy the Rocky tradition of  world class guides, amazing food, great wine and the West’s best multi-day guided Fly Fishing Experience.

All-Inclusive Middle Fork Fly Fishing Dates, Rates & Details

September 10, 18 & 26th



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