Copyright 2021, The Orvis Company Inc. Many people like to camp along the banks of the river – if you are camping, follow local rules and make sure to minimize your environmental footprint as much as possible! From the expansive, world-famous rivers of Montana to high desert creeks in Central Oregon, the Northwest is a magical place 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. Parachute Adams, stimulators and pheasant tails are all excellent patterns to try out on the North Fork. The other explanation is much less romantic (but just as likely, if not more so). Bull trout have a lot of restrictions around them in the United States. If you’re visiting the state’s more famous neighbor, Montana, don’t pass Idaho up. This is a very unique river: It’s very slow-moving and requires a certain degree of stealthiness to effectively fish. 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. Sure, a few. 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. The Teton stretches for more than 80 miles, winding through mountainous terrain and meadows as it makes its way toward the Henry’s Fork. If big fish and stealthy dry fly takes are your thing, check out Silver Creek – it’s a great challenge. Some anglers argue that it has the best trout fishing in the whole country, especially the tailwater directly below Flaming Gorge Dam. pocket water but fish >1 year selected deeper pools while resting (Wydoski and Whitney 2003). 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. 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. As the bull trout grows larger their diet begins to consist of other fish species. Idaho stands out in particular as a stellar state, especially when it comes to fly fishing for trout – and if you’ve been wanting to fish Idaho, you’re not alone. It’s not your traditional western fly fishing river, but it’s excellent at producing large trout time and time again. Bull trout are widespread in Idaho, mostly in rivers and streams, but they can also found in lakes and reservoirs. For years, my family made a habit of camping at the Mill Creek campground in Sawmill Canyon sometime around the Fourth of July weekend—and we had the campground all to ourselves most of the time. And it’s yours. 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. The average bull trout tagged in Arrowrock Reservoir swam more than 50 miles before … 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.. Henry’s Lake, the Boise River, Brownlee Reservoir and more are producing big fish for anglers. 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. The Henry’s Fork is a premier trout river with worldwide renown. 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. 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. 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. The Northwest region of the United States is undoubtedly the best region for cold-water fly fishing region in the country. Anglers—and hunters—are more and more important in the conservation discussion all across America. Higher up, go light with a 3- or 4-weight rod and floating line. As always, be sure to check current regulations before you head out – salmon and steelhead fisheries have more fickle seasons than trout fisheries do. They are in most river drainages in central and northern Idaho that flow into the Snake and Columbia rivers. The rising popularity of the Owyhee in the past few years has taken a toll on both the fishing and the surrounding environment. They are some of the largest growing freshwater salmonids in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. 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. Gear At 120 miles, the St. Joe river is a long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities. 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. Idaho truly does offer fly fishermen some of the best opportunities in the country when it comes to spectacular trout fishing. 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 a fish no one wants to see go extinct. 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. It can be found on pages 38, 39 and 46 of the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer, Idaho Edition. 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. Don’t miss Northwest fishing news! One of the most attractive aspects of this trip was the promise at another native species: the Westslope Cutthroat trout. 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. If you’re truly looking for the quintessential Henry’s Fork experience, you’ll need to head to what’s known as the Ranch. The Little Lost River 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. Either way, bull trout live in this isolated drainage, and they enjoy the protection they deserve in these waters. There are a lot of fishable streams out there. This piscivorous behavior increases as the fish continues to grow. 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. 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. As an added bonus, its proximity to Oregon and Washington makes it a doable weekend trip if you’re up for the drive. 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. Farther downstream, the river exits Sawmill Canyon and flows south along a stretch of idyllic Western landscape dotted with sage. I think you’ll come to love it, too. We opted to go out of country to see what these fish really had to offer. 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