Fishing in Idaho – The "Gem State"

The variety of outdoor recreational opportunities found in Idaho, like fishing, are a way of life for residents and a welcoming beacon for tourists. Most locals take these pleasures for granted; a component of their residency. Visitors can be envious.

Fishing is a good example. It is a way of life for those who reside in the Gem State. It is not if a local fishes, it is where and how he fishes. With 1000’s of miles of rivers and streams (the most in the lower 48 states), and more than 2,000 reservoirs and lakes, the choice of fishing venues is nearly endless. That is also true with the type of fish sought.

Fishermen explore the depths of the big waters of Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d’Alene and Priest Lake in Northern Idaho for the Kamloops Trout. The Mackinaw (or Lake) Trout, and the fresh-water Chinook Salmon. The Kamloops can be as large as 35 pounds, Mackinaws can go 50 pounds, and the Chinook can reach weights of 40 pounds or more.

Some anglers pursue white sturgeon, the prehistoric giant that can live for more than 100 years and reach a weight of up to 1,500 pounds. These unique game fish, the largest fresh water fish in North America, can be found in parts of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. Hooking and landing a sturgeon is a challenge, but guides from licensed outfitters can position the angler right over the big fish.

Many Idaho residents and visitors alike favor testing their skills against the torpedo-shaped salmon and steelhead that frequent Idaho’s rivers, usually following an arduous trip from the Pacific Ocean. Popular rivers for salmon and steelhead seekers are the Clearwater, the Little Salmon, the Lower and Upper Salmon and the Snake River. Guides and outfitters are a great assistance in locating and catching these large fish.

In addition to sturgeon, salmon and steelhead, the state provides opportunities for some of the best trout fishing in the world. Several areas around Idaho offer up other fish varieties such as whitefish, perch, walleye and northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and other warm-water types.

But, it is trout fishing that made Idaho famous. A large variety of trout, most of which are native to Idaho, are found in the rivers, creeks and stillwater locations throughout the state. Trout can be taken on bait, spinners and other lures, including flies. Some fishermen prefer lake and reservoir fishing from a float tube, kayak, raft or solid boat or from the shore, while other like trout fishing the rivers and creeks flowing throughout Idaho. Fishing from a drift boat is in style on the larger rivers, where the fisherman might be on his own or be aided by a knowledgeable guide. Wading and shore fishing are also employed on these streams.

Fish size is not always important to the trout fisherman, who can hook and land up to 100 fish per day in waters such as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Hefty trout are plentiful on the Middle Fork. Most are 12 to 16 inches in length. Idaho’s man-made reservoirs and natural lakes also offer up scores of trout to the patient angler. Some of the pristine and picturesque alpine lakes in the state are loaded with hungry trout who are tempted by a fisherman’s offering. Many of these mountain lakes are still unnamed.

If you fly fish, Idaho is a fly fisherman’s paradise, with more than 10 designated Blue Ribbon streams to satisfy an angler’s craving for quality. Among the more famous dry fly tests are the Henrys Fork, the South Fork of the Snake, Kelly Creek, Silver Creek, the Big Wood River, the Teton River, the St. Joe River and the Boise River. Fly fishing guides can assist you on these legendary rivers, or you can tackle them on your own. Fly fishing for the wily trout is undoubtedly the best and most satisfying trout fishing method. If you would like to learn how to fly fish, guides who teach the unique techniques of the sport are also available.

The variety of sport fish and the full range of water types are in Idaho. Quality fishing is everywhere you look. So is the unsurpassed scenic beauty of the state. The friendly people of Idaho are more than happy to help you find that fishing spot you will not forget. There is no doubt about it, Idaho is a fisherman’s paradise.

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