In mid-September, Idaho’s trout get restless and hungry as the fall spawning season kicks in during the perfect days of Indian summer, making it a great time fly fish in places like Silver Creek, Hemingway’s favorite haunt near Sun Valley, or perhaps the Middle Fork of the Salmon River near Stanley and the Coeur d’Alene River in North Idaho.
“Fall is a great time to fish Silver Creek because insect hatches are pretty consistent, and the brown trout are getting active and hungry as they’re trying to beef up for the winter and the spawn,” said Dave Faltings, guide manager for Silver Creek Outfitters in Sun Valley. Large brown trout and rainbows are common on Silver Creek, but they can be challenging to catch. That’s where Silver Creek Outfitters’ guides earn their keep, showing anglers where to find them and how to catch them. Prices are $325 for up to two people for a six-hour trip.
Several outfitters on Idaho’s famed Middle Fork of the Salmon River switch from whitewater trips to specialty fly fishing trips with smaller groups in September because dry-fly fishing for native cutthroat is typically very consistent. “On the Middle Fork, you don’t have to fish for hours just to get a bite. You get a strike on almost every cast,” said David Mills, co-owner of Rocky Mountain River Tours. “It’s great to watch kids learn how to fly fish and tie flies on the Middle Fork. Those are skills that last a lifetime.”
Several other Middle Fork outfitters including Orvis-endorsed Solitude River Trips, Hughes River Expeditions, Mackay Wilderness River Trips and Idaho River Journeys offer fall fishing trips. The bonus of Middle Fork fishing trips is that guests enjoy a full-fledged wilderness experience complete with deluxe Dutch oven meals for five or six days. Reports of anglers catching more than 50 fish a day are not uncommon. Prices start at $1,750 per person.
Fishing guides at Castaway Fly Fishing Shop in Coeur d’Alene say the trout fishing is outstanding in the fall months because of consistent weather, dry fly hatches and perfect water conditions. The river current moves slower in the fall, creating more time for anglers to present a fly.
Jeff Wilson, guide service and shop manager at Castaway said catch-and-release regulations on the Coeur d’Alene River have dramatically improved the fishery. “In the last couple years, the quality of fishing has really accelerated,” Wilson said. “The number of fish and the size of fish have increased.”
Native cutthroat in the Coeur d’Alene average 12-15 inches in size, with some as big as 20 inches, he said. Anglers look forward to the October caddis hatch. They are large inch-long bugs that the fish love to eat. Imagine a blizzard of October caddis flies hovering above the stream, while fly anglers drop a perfect replica on top of a dark hole. Bam! Fish on! “The hatches can be phenomenal,” he says. Prices for fishing with Castaway range from $250 to $300 for a half-day trip to $350 to $400 for a full-day trip.