Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
I just returned from a vacation on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. We took six days and five nights to paddle down 96 miles of the Middle Fork. It was primarily a rafting/paddling trip with the opportunity to fish as a bonus. I took a 5 wt. Sage FLi rod with me.
The Cutthroat trout are cooperative and pretty easy to catch. Little steelheads are also found in abundance. The river is strictly barbless, single hook, catch-and-release.
I hooked a handfull of really big trout while fishing from the back of an oar raft on a couple of days. They got into the backing and ultimately broke off. The problem with fishing from an oar raft is that there is no stopping the boat. You can't horse a fish on a 4x tippet, so when the line runs out, something has to give. I was able to land several 15-16 inchers, and they were a ton of fun and beautiful fish.
I also had some success in fishing from the bank of the river. Wading, however, is quite limited. In most sections the river is just too deep and swift to offer effective wading. Some of the tributaries had sections that could be waded. Again, I mostly fished from the bank, casting sidearm where necessary.
Patterns that worked this trip: Attractors in various colors, Humpies, Parachute Adams, and any number of other dry flies. The best producer, however, and significantly above the rest, was a stonefly hopper in both no. 10 and 12 sizes. The grasshoppers were out in some numbers in the grass on the river bank.
Scenery along the river is spectacular. We saw deer, Big Horn sheep, black bear, Blue Grouse, Chukkar, Golden Eagle, a variety of birds and rodents. Indian artifacts abound. There are pictographs if you know where to see them and evidence of campgrounds and dwelling sites all along the river, particularly from a tribe known as the "Sheepeaters."
Weather was hot. Insects were not a problem. My non-fisherman wife hooked a cutthroat also. That may convert her for the longer term!
If ever you have the opportunity to make a trip down the Middle Fork, I highly recommend that you jump on it!