North Fork Salmon River, Idaho
We’ve heard many accounts of the wonderful steelhead fishing on Idaho’s Salmon River. We’ve drooled over our friend’s photos of huge fish caught as winter begins to loosen its icy grip of the river. We needed to learn more. So when we were getting ready to leave the Green River in Wyoming, we decided to scout the Salmon before heading to the West Fork of the Bitterroot. It would be fun to get in a little trout fishing in Central Idaho.
Information is scarce online about summer fishing near Salmon, Idaho. We did find a fly shop listed online, the Salmon River Fly Box, and knew it would be our first stop.
The Lemhi River
The route took us through the Birch Brook drainage and then the Lemhi River Valley. Just beautiful country. We located some fishing accesses along the Lemhi and decided to pull in and check out the water.
The Lemhi is a cold, babbling trout stream that passes through private ranchlands. The fishing accesses were nice, often with campsites. The stream itself is small and brush-lined. This would be a challenge to try to fish with two seldom-behaved Brittanys.
One thing that struck us, at every fishing access, there was no one there on a sunny Sunday afternoon. No one fishing and no one camped in any site on the Lemhi. How strange.
Fly Fishing the North Fork of the Salmon River
The Lemhi flows into the Salmon River in Salmon, Idaho. Here we picked up Route 93 north towards North Fork and the Wagonhammer Campground, our destination for the next 3 nights.
After passing a couple of angler-less fishing accesses, I had the sinking feeling I had made a mistake. After arriving at Wagonhammer and walking to the river, I was certain of my mistake. The river was very warm, no trout rose for the Caddis and Pale Evening Duns coming off.
The trip the next morning to the fly shop confirmed my suspicions but also gave us a great tip – fish the cold feeder streams. And the North Fork of the Salmon was the top pick.
Access to the River
There is only one state fishing access on the North Fork of the Salmon and that is at the confluence of the main stem in the tiny village of North Fork. Signs lead you behind a small strip motel to a boat launch and access point. The North Fork flows in adjacent to the boat launch providing a shot of cold water to the main river. Fishing here proved productive each night by fishing the tributary and the main river for cutthroat, whitefish, and squaw fish.