Today we’ll take a foray outside of southeast Idaho, but still remain fairly close to home.
Bingham County residents don’t have to travel far for superb fly fishing. Silver Creek, Henry’s Fork, and the South Fork of the Snake are all world-class trout streams although their popularity often means they are heavily fished. There’s something to be said for seeking adventure, beauty, and solitude a little further from home than we normally stray. Fortunately for Bingham County anglers, terrific fishing adventures can be found in adjacent states within a few hours’ drive of Blackfoot.
I enjoy exploring new waters with my fly rod but travel can be expensive and time-consuming. Over the last 20 years, I’ve discovered fishing destinations that allow me to travel away from home but the trips don’t strain the budget or keep me away for more than a few days.
Sometimes I head north into western Montana where the Madison River, Blackfoot River (of “A River Runs Through It” fame), and Rock Creek are all within a 4-5-hour drive of Blackfoot and offer outstanding fly fishing. Sometimes I head east, where the Greys River and Salt River lay just over the Idaho/Wyoming border and provide terrific fly fishing all summer. There are many excellent trout streams in western Montana and western Wyoming but I’ll describe just a few here.
Every river I’ve fished has its own unique character and challenges. Rock Creek is one of my favorite trout streams but fishing can be technically difficult and the wading treacherous. It’s not a river for the faint of heart. I enjoy the diversity of fish within the river. In a single day we commonly catch 2-3 species of trout and the occasional whitefish. The river has a high density of fish, beautiful scenery, and several well-maintained Forest Service campgrounds.
The Blackfoot River is one of the most well-known trout streams in western Montana. However, anglers must share water with recreationists in its lower stretches; this becomes less of an issue farther upstream. The river is characterized by big pools and deep runs and has a diversity of trout species. There is something special about fishing a river made famous in literature and film.
In western Wyoming, the Greys River and its tributary, the Little Greys River, will please both dry fly and nymph fishermen. Numerous camping spots can be found along the rivers’ banks. Fish can be fairly large but the rivers are difficult to fish in years with excessive runoff. The Salt River often attracts dry fly fishermen but some of the river is difficult to access because it flows through private lands. Still, there are access areas for anglers and many fish waiting to be caught.
If you are traveling with people that are not fishing enthusiasts (I’m told such people exist), many of these areas offer hiking trails, and the Blackfoot River is a favorite for float trips. Of course, the beauty of these areas also brings out the photographer in all of us.
If you are interested in a change of scenery, both western Montana and western Wyoming offer many fishing opportunities just 2-5 hours from Blackfoot. Although a few days of fishing is not very expensive in either area, pay attention to costs and license requirements. Montana, frankly, is a bit misleading because it lists the cost for a 2-day non-resident license as $25 but the state also requires a conservation license and an invasive species stamp, bringing the total cost to $50. In comparison, Wyoming simply charges $14 per day for a non-resident fishing license or $56 for a 5-day license. In all cases, make sure you read the regulations before wetting a line.