This is the bull trout that the author had been dreaming about. Early in the season, try swinging a wet fly like a Rio Grande King or a Stayner Ducktail through runoff-swollen water. The Teton stretches for more than 80 miles, winding through mountainous terrain and meadows as it makes its way toward the Henry’s Fork. 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. During the summer months they eat their way up the system before entering small tributaries to spawn in September. Known for its prolific hatches in the springtime and massive brown and rainbow trout, the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River is a prime fishing opportunity – and is perhaps the best option in Idaho for anglers who want a classic fly fishing experience. 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. We opted to go out of country to see what these fish really had to offer. For me—and for my son—this place is magical. Once these streams—others include Birch Creek and Medicine Bow Creek—hit the porous ground of the desert, they “sink” into the lava-laden earth and don’t reappear until they come out of the ground near the Thousand Springs area near Hagerman. Although they typically average in the 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches. Core distribution of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in U.S. 2005 S. confluentus is found in the cold, clear waters of the high mountains and coastal rivers of northwestern North America, including Yukon, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana, as well as the Jarbidge River of northern Nevada. Then there’s the heart of Idaho, fly fishing big waters such as the Big Lost River (East Fork, Lower River) and the Salmon River (Main, Upper and Middle Fork). The brookies, too, are aggressive and very respectable. 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. The rainbows in Sawmill Canyon are absolutely gorgeous—they sport a deep red stripe down their … 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. South Fork of the Boise River. The Missouri River, below Holter Dam, is a tailwater system with consistent flows and water temps making it the perfect environment for trout to thrive. Bull trout may live near areas where they were spawned or migrate from small streams to larger streams and rivers or from streams to lakes, reservoirs or salt water. Much like the other rivers in Northern Idaho, westslope cutthroat are the primary target here. Bull trout are widespread in Idaho, mostly in rivers and streams, but they can also found in lakes and reservoirs. Cameron’s tenkara rod is 11 feet long, and the specialized line connected to a “lillian” at the rod tip is about 12 feet long. If big fish and stealthy dry fly takes are your thing, check out Silver Creek – it’s a great challenge. Chinook salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout make up the majority of the fish populations in the Salmon River. The Little Lost River is a sinks stream that flows south out of the Beaverhead Mountains toward the little village of Howe, Idaho. The rising popularity of the Owyhee in the past few years has taken a toll on both the fishing and the surrounding environment. Although they typically average in the 12 to 14 inch range, cutthroat in here have been known to surpass 20 inches. The fish in the river’s canyon stretch—and “river” is misleading—are stunning and can push 15 inches or so. This location is absolutely beautiful and is the perfect fishing getaway. Secret waters are proprietary, I was told. If people want to discover great backcountry fishing, let them pour over maps on their own. 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. 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! Flies Carter Reschke is a freelance writer based in Bend, Oregon. 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. The river’s brook trout are likely the product of an organized introduction effort on the part of fisheries managers years and years ago. DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer, Idaho Edition. Higher up, simply use smaller versions—the terrestrial hatch all along the Little Lost in late summer is prolific. In typical bull trout style, these fish began leaving Arrowrock Reservoir in May with movements more like a marathon than a sprint. The fish in the river’s canyon stretch—and “river” is misleading—are stunning and can push 15 inches or so. It could be easily argued that protecting it in perpetuity is in the best interest of every angler willing to step off the pavement in Idaho and explore a little bit. Located in the US, the fly fishing in Idaho offers over fifteen scenic trout rivers spots. 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. The Little Lost River This river isn’t known for having the biggest fish in the state, but it is very nutrient-rich and trout can grow up to – and beyond – 20 inches. 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. 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. 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. Big rainbow trout await anglers who fish the river, and there is plenty of water to access – this river is a paradise for fishermen who typically walk-and-wade. Pinch your barbs or fish barbless hooks, keep the fish in the water and keep the time spent playing the fish to a minimum. If you’re visiting the state’s more famous neighbor, Montana, don’t pass Idaho up. These, of course are the real secret waters of Idaho. I think you’ll come to love it, too. 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. The Clearwater is known for producing giant steelhead, and the run is famous with anglers from across the country. There are plenty of ways to divide Idaho into regions, but when it comes to fly fishing, those four regions make the most sense to us. If you do decide to fish the Owyhee, be mindful of other fly fishermen and make sure to use proper etiquette. Truly, though, fishing has always been about much more than catching fish, or at least since that first fisherman stayed to catch a few extra or make “one last cast.” But what makes our collective experience as anglers worth all the time, effort, and money we put into our sport? But in this stretch of water, even when fishing with dry flies (bull trout are notorious piscivores—they eat other fish), catching a bull trout is a very real possibility. 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. Henry’s Lake, the Boise River, Brownlee Reservoir and more are producing big fish for anglers. Bull trout are a sensitive species and while it's fun to get out and fish for them, they are almost always zero-retention and I'm going to do what I can to minimize my impact. Want to Bag A Bull Trout? It can be found on pages 38, 39 and 46 of the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer, Idaho Edition. 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. At 120 miles, the St. Joe river is a long one that offers anglers plenty of opportunities. Idaho angler catches record bull trout. All 9 million acres of it on U.S. Forest Service land, and millions more found on Bureau of Land Management property belong to every single American as a birthright. Your email address will not be published. Cameron was 10 when he and I made the drive to the Little Lost. Detected bull trout were over deep water habitat ranging from 8.0 to 42.6 m. Actual fish depths were shallower, ranging from 0.0 to 24.5 m. The last acoustic-tagged bull trout was detected on June 1, 2012. This hidden little river is one of several “sinks” streams in southern Idaho that begin as snowmelt and spring water in the Beaverhead Mountains along the crotch of the pregnant “L” in Idaho and flow out onto the Big Desert near the much-maligned Idaho National Laboratory. Montana and Idaho are about the only places to find them in the US but they are not widespread like they are in Canada. From the expansive, world-famous rivers of Montana to high desert creeks in Central Oregon, the Northwest is a magical place for fly fishermen. Formally called Harriman State Park, the Ranch is situated far upstream of the lower river, and offers dry fly anglers a taste of heaven. They’re most common in coldwater rivers, which in summer often means upper-elevation streams. Secrets? Bull trout have a lot of restrictions around them in the United States. Bull trout need water that’s 60 degrees or cooler, and water that’s around 54 … What defines one’s “best fishing” experience? The Idaho state record was caught in 1949—when the harvesting of bull trout was legal—in Lake Pend Oreille, and weighed a whopping 32 pounds. Imagine the beauty and the untracked, untrashed places where wild fish swim. 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. 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. The river goes on for 137 stunning miles, and is known to contain rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Truly, this is completely subjective, a thought which is beautiful in its own right. The geologic unrest separated the Little Lost River from the Pahsimeroi River to the north, creating a unique population of the threatened native char. Written by: Evan Williams. By Gary Lewis. The other explanation is much less romantic (but just as likely, if not more so). While we do find them in the head and gut of the pull, more often than not I feel like the tailout is the best, especially if there is structure like the above mentioned. “Like” us on Facebook. And some of these native char get quite large for the water they occupy—a few years back, my son Cameron caught one on a grasshopper pattern that pushed 17 inches (as per Idaho law, the fish was quickly released). 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. The river is most commonly fished from Ashton downstream to St. Anthony. 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.. Cutthroat Trout offer anglers, especially flyfishers, a highly entertaining native trout experience on almost every North Idaho water. This piscivorous behavior increases as the fish continues to grow. Silver Creek is in tight contention with the Henry’s Fork (a river we’ll mention later on in the article) for being the most famous and productive stretch of water in all of Idaho. The same can be said of the nearby Henrys Fork, world-renowned for its challenging dry fly wade fishing for big rainbow trout. There are multiple stretches of this river drainage that are popular with fly fishermen. But in Idaho, where bull trout live mostly in undeveloped wilderness or mountain areas, there wasn’t much worry for the fish. Some anglers argue that it has the best trout fishing in the whole country, especially the tailwater directly below Flaming Gorge Dam. The lower Big Lost River, and perhaps the more popular stretch, is a tailwater below MacKay Reservoir. 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. The river runs along the Wyoming-Idaho border under the magnificent Teton Range, and it is home to good populations of rainbow … August 7, 2020. If you’re interested in giving it a try, use a tenkara rod—the Little Lost is the ideal experimental laboratory for this method of fly fishing, and, if you’re like me, once you try it, you’ll want to keep trying it. Across Idaho, there are plenty of places to catch large trout. If this book encourages one angler to wander down a lonely trail and marvel at the wallpaper along a backcountry stream, it’s worth it. That would explain the presence of bull trout, and perhaps the rainbows (are the Little Lost’s rainbows the progeny of Salmon River steelhead?) As the bull trout grows larger their diet begins to consist of other fish species. 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. It’s without a doubt Central Idaho’s best stream. High in the river’s headwaters, the road up Sawmill canyon comes to an end, and the only way to get to the water is walk among the willows and the downed timber left behind from a fire some years back. Fishing the Ranch is a near-religious experience for many devout fly fishermen, and it’s a pristine stretch of gin-clear, slow-moving water that is home to prolific hatches and giant trout – there’s not much more you could possibly ask for. And that’s why I feel that I can writ… This small population is on the southern edge of the species' range, and is isolated from other populations of bull trout in southern Idaho, increasing their sensitivity to changes in habitat. Since 1856. Bull Trout are incredibly powerful and challenging fish making an angler give his best to land them. The Henry’s Fork is a premier trout river with worldwide renown. All photos courtesy Evan Williams . 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