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Clemson 07-13-2007 10:17 AM

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!

Clemson

Frank Whiton 07-13-2007 02:18 PM

Re: Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
 
Hi Clemson,

Welcome back from your float. Glad to hear you caught some nice fish. Next time you might want to try a raft with a rowing platform. That will give you much more control and one person can control the boat. Thanks for the great report.

Flywgn 08-05-2007 01:07 PM

Re: Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
 
Newbie here. First post. Just registered today and began to browse the forum.

Clemson, we had a family trip, albeit with a commercial outfitter, just the week before you. We put in at Boundary Ck on June 29 and might have been among the last of the summer rafts to do so, as our outfitter began to fly-in to Indian Ck after that.

Our experience was similar to yours. We had four first-time fly-fishers accompanying us, so I spent much of our camp time helping introduce them to the sport. Great fun. I never tire of that aspect.

Second day out I had a marvelous day in the rear of an oarboat. Lots of hook-ups and releases. Nothing spectacular but many in the 12-14 inch range. I disappointed my guide by failing to land the biggest of the day. I was simply tired by that time and should have known better and taken into account the drift of the boat. Finally, I just quit fishing. Can't remember the last time that my arm refused to cast once more--and that's over fifty years of fly-fishing.

Living here just south of Silver Ck gives me giant access to some of the best western streams. It wasn't my first time on the Middle Fork, but it was our first float down it. In the past we've flown in to a couple of ranches and done a lot of wading.

It's a fun river.

Allen R

Clemson 08-06-2007 07:23 AM

Re: Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
 
Hello Flywgn,

We were able to put in at Boundary Creek also. Water level was 2.1 wherever they measure that! That upper stretch of river is quite spectacular.

I would definitely go back, even with the heat!

Clemson


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