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Old 07-26-2011, 12:35 AM
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Default Middle Fork Salmon River ID

I just got back from a one week private party float down the vaunted middle fork of the Salmon river in Idaho. I just cannot express how good the dry fly fishing is on this protected section of the Salmon river. Plain and simple, it was the best dry fly fishing I have experienced. If anyone gets an offer to fish this highly restricted river, absolutely do not hesitate to join the float. It really helps if your boat mate loves to row (and hates to fish) navigating the many class III IV rapids along the 100 mile float so that you can fish all day. The fish are not huge, but they have a voracious appetite for dry flies. The largest fish I caught was on the shy side of 18 inches. Most of the trout are 12 inches or so. I did not catch any Dolly Vardens. I could sight fish to Brook trout, but I could not figure out what they wanted.

The trip starts at about 6000 feet and ends at about 3000 feet, so the geography and temperatures change dramatically. Cut throat trout were primarily taken with well placed large brownish Caddis flies. The large Caddis fly is very easy to see. I caught a lot of rainbows on a parachute adams at the higher altitudes and on a Royal Wolff at lower altitudes. There were grasshoppers and stone flies everywhere and a Joes Hopper also worked well.

I even tried my hand at tight line nymph fishing near the shore line with success. I caught the biggest fish while "parked" with a lazy two foot cast between large rocks with a Royal Wolff that sank. Go figure.

I used a five weight TiCr and a Lampson G1.5 with 7.5 foot 5X leader. A four weight would have provided more fun, but it would have been more difficult to cast into the frequent winds. I only had one fish pull line, but hey, this is not Alaska!

We had fly fishers of all ages from 70+ to high school and everyone caught fish! It was a joy to see "novices" of all ages learn to fly fish.

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Last edited by OregonStreams; 07-26-2011 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:08 AM
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Default Re: Middle Fork Salmon River ID

Good for you, glad you had a great float. It's on "The Bucket list".

My wife's boss floats it every couple of years and keeps telling us we need to get in with the group they go with, or put in for a permit and if we're fortunate enough to get selected we won't have a problem putting a group together. From my understanding their always looking for experienced rowers to go along.
I guess they have several people who put in each year for the restricted floats and there's always someone putting a trip together.

Please post some pics and tell us more.
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:21 AM
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Default Re: Middle Fork Salmon River ID

Also on my bucket list... I am lucky enough to live in Idaho, I have done many multi-day hikes into the middle fork, absolutely amazing...... We actually have a hike in and fly out trip coming up in a couple of weeks, cannot wait. Because it is a high water year, we are thinking of making a trip after the permit season ends. Your post is making me think even more strongly about this option. Do you have any pics?
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: Middle Fork Salmon River ID

John and Mike... I added some pictures of the river to my original post. This is an unusual year with moderate flows in warm July. A rare occurrence. We floated the main Salmon last year in June during flood stage and it was much colder and few fish.

Definitely go. I am still buzzing from the trip. I did get sunburned on the tops of my feet, so be for-warned. I also slipped and fell HARD on my back on an angled wet rock slab while trying to get back into the boat after retrieving someones Kayak. Luckily my life preserver took the brunt of the impact and I did not hit my head. So consider taking a Sat phone or SPOT. Also you need to know how to kill Horse Flies before they sink their teeth into you.

Veil falls is worth the hike to see. We went right over the reversal at Velvet Falls. We were lucky. Had a full head of steam and a 16 foot boat. Could have been a disaster. Pistol Rapids was interesting. Tappan was doable if scouted. None of the big boats flipped, but the kids in IKs and kayaks did a lot of swimming. Stopped at the Flying B Ranch and bought ice cream

I enjoyed the fishing best the first three days at the higher altitudes. Basically if you present the correct fly well into an obvious spot, you will be rewarded with a take. Much like the isolated small creeks that feed the Rogue River, but with bigger fish.

Some of the folks were having trouble catching fish and I think one of the best parts of the trip was fixing their setups in camp and seeing them catch fish the next day.
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Middle Fork Salmon River ID

OregonStreams: Great report and photos, thanks for sharing! Sounds like a really fun trip, but after hearing about boat adventures in the rapids I will leave this one to you younger fly fisherman to enjoy!

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