Monday, September 15, 2014

Fly Fishing New Meadows and the Little Salmon

This June I took the wife and baby girl to Riggins, ID to catch the end of the salmon fishing season on the Little Salmon river. We decided to get there by going through Mcall and then New Meadows but first stopped off in Cascade to see the Payette Whitewater Games and let my baby stretch her legs. The talent there was amazing and so were the bikinis which are sure to bring me back next year.  The next stop was Payette Lake in McCall for a dip in the clear water. I don't recommend Payette lake for fly fishing as surface feeding trout are far and few between.

The drive through the mountains and meadows was perfect and before we knew it we were heading downhill to the town of Riggins. I had heard rumors that fishing the Little Salmon was going to be busy but I was not prepared for the chaos we encountered. The roadside around the Rapid River confluence was a complete fluster cluck. Trucks, cars, trailer, tents, barbecues and sunburned humans cluster at the roads edge nearly as tightly as they did along the banks of the river below. "It's asses to elbows down here" I said to my father-in-law as we drove into town to the Salmon Rapids Lodge. The lodge is my favorite place to stay in Riggins, as it is perched atop a high bluff overlooking the confluence of the Main and the Little Salmon Rivers; plus they make fresh chocolate chip cookies every night at 8 pm. Here's the link to the hotel for those interested.  

With all the shenanigans in Riggins, I spent my energy convincing my father-in-law to go fly fishing with me instead and wait out the weekend hullabaloo. As always he was happy to oblige and we headed out Sunday afternoon to explore the headwaters of the Little Salmon just outside of the town of New Meadows. It's hard to find a more pastoral, picture perfect, meandering little river then the Little Salmon and its tributaries that come together in the green pastures and meadows surrounding the town of New Meadows. The river there is nothing like the rumbling white water that can be seen from highway 95 as it leaves the meadows and drops into the tight canyon on the way to Riggins, ID. In the meadows the Little Salmon bubbles along adding a tributary every mile or so, so that even the creeks have names like "Three Mile Creek, Four Mile Creek and Six Mile Creek." I admit, I have only fished a small portion of the river there but what I witnessed was tranquil, clear water, lush green grassy banks and the sound of buzzing insects. 

I don't know the area well yet but I can give any reader some advice. Access is limited due to private property; a story becoming all to familiar across the West now. There are access points however and enough of them to keep me busy for a few more seasons while I explore the area.
 Leaving the town of New Meadows, heading north or downstream, five easy access points exist off US 95. The first good access is where Goose Creek join the river, look for a small pond on the left which has a pull out and respect private property. The confluence is nearby. A few hundred yards and the next access is from a bridge on 45th Parallel Dr., look for signs to Meadow Creek public resort of US 95. A third bridge access can be found several miles farther along 95 on Zims road which is easily marked with a sign to Zim's hot springs. About 5 miles down 95 is another access at Round Valley road, this is were I jumped in to fish. The final access place is at the bridge to Smokey Bolder road, again right off US 95. The water is deep and slow here and the banks drop off sharply so wading access might be tricky there. 

I caught some nice fat rainbows in the 12-15 inch range and lost a nice brook trout as I was fumbling to get my camera out. I found most fish were holding right under the grassy banks or overhanging vegetation. Bouncing my flies off the grass and into the water was a fun and challenging way to fish. The river is easily waded after the April runoff and can be fished from the middle as flows decrease. I primarily used stimulator patterns with rubber legs with good results. The trout fishing window for this river is relatively short I have found. By July the river is a modest trickle and probably too warm for trout. Throughout the summer months I have found only squawfish. I am going to continue to work this river in the spring as it still keeps its secrets from me.   
A few locals at the golf course told me that 20 inch rainbows are still pulled out from below the bridge on occasion but not like in the good old days.I have a hunch some nice trout are hiding in this little river and I am coming back next year to explore.

No comments:

Post a Comment