The best time to steelhead fish is primarily from mid-fall through early spring. Steelhead enter the mouth of the Salmon from the Snake River in fishable numbers in late September/early October. As the fall progresses, the migration extends farther upstream, reaching the Salmon area in mid-October. Later in the fall, declining river temperatures stall upstream movement, usually in mid-November. In the upper part of the Salmon River, slush ice flows most days through the winter, restricting fishing. In late February through early March, the river begins to warm, ice ceases to be a problem, and fishing resumes in the Salmon area. By early April, most of the steelhead have moved on upstream from the Salmon area.
We offer a combination five-day steelhead fishing/chukar hunting trip on the Lower Salmon River during the first half of October, using drift boats. This consists primarily of backtrolling from the boat, though fly fishing is an option in some runs. We may also fish for small mouth bass, trout, or sturgeon, or hunt chukar. The canyon here is about three thousand feet deep; chukar may be close to the river, especially in dry conditions, or we may have to climb for them. A large inflatable boat goes ahead to set up camp, so that fishermen can stay on the river until sundown and pull up to a camp with tables, chairs, tents and lanterns set up, and steaks ready to throw on the grill. There is some good white water, primarily in a half-day segment of the river. This is a combination trip–on a particular section of the Salmon River, focus will depend on interests of the participants and which activity is productive at the time.
In late October, we offer a trip on the Main Salmon River through the wilderness area, using McKenzie River drift boats, staying in lodges along the river each night. This trip is usually five days. It is a unique blend of wilderness, white water, and good steelhead fishing, with the comfort of lodges instead of camping.
One-Day Steelhead Fishing Near Salmon, Idaho
By mid-October, steelhead have reached the Salmon area, and we offer day trips there until ice interferes with steelhead fishing, usually in mid-November. We can resume steelhead fishing in late February/early March, and continue into early April. We fish with McKenzie River drift boats, two people per boat. Fishermen stay in a local motel.
Fly Fishing For Steelhead in Idaho is Best in Mid-Fall,
While water temperature is still in the 40s or higher. Some of the best steelhead fly fishing in Idaho is in the Salmon area, where the river is smaller and fish can be more easily pinpointed than in the larger water downstream. Often this becomes a balancing act. If you fish too early, there may not be enough fish to be productive. Too late results in water temperatures that are too cold for best response to a fly. Usually the last half of October provides a good opportunity for fly fishing. In Idaho, though, weather can be hard to predict. We offer day trips in drift boats at that time, using a variety of methods and tackle.