Epic Trip Planning--E. WA, Idaho, Montana

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jason Rolfe, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    Hi folks,

    So I guess I'm just kind of posting this to see if anyone has thoughts or suggestions. My brother and I (and hopefully another buddy who is new to fly fishing), are going to be making our semi-yearly fishing trip starting on Friday, and hitting up pretty much all new waters for us.

    Here's our tentative itinerary:

    San Poil River
    Kettle River
    St. Joe
    North Fork CDA
    Kelly Creek
    Rock Creek (been there a couple times)
    Clark Fork

    I've got my books and I've been doing my homework, but I just thought I'd see if anyone on the forum has any thoughts or suggestions they'd be willing to share about any of these rivers. Flies, access areas, whatever. No boat, so we'll be wading the whole time.

    Also, I'd love to hear some fishing stories from any of these that people might have.

    I can't wait to get going. 10 days of nothing but trout, beer, camping, and cribbage. Should be awesome.


  2. atomic dog

    atomic dog Jive Turkey

    Damn, sounds like a whole lotta fun waters!

    I don't have any tips or anything, but I would love to get a report on the Kettle when you get back. I'm headed up that way in a few weeks and was planning on taking my ff novice wife out one day to go after some trout. Heck, I'm looking forward to a report on all those places.

  3. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

    I am afraid that the Kettle will be a disappointment. this fishery has declined dramatically in recent years not many fish have been caught.
    The San Poil had a huge natural disaster with a wind storm that blew down thousands of trees. The area has been declared a disaster area, camping may be a problem. The river itself may be fishable I don't know how many trees have been blown into the river. Triploid junkie lives in the area and may be able to help on this one.
  4. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    Hmm. Bummer.

    I remember, now, hearing something about that wind storm. Might just have to spend a bit more time on the rivers further east. I've always wanted to get up and fish in that area.
  5. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

    I'd do less river hopping and spend more time on rivers like the St. Joe. I've gone to the Missouri for the last three summers. Learn something new every trip, but still feel woefully uninformed about fishing that river. The St. Joe is a great river to get healthy on your dry fly fishing. I'd go to Spruce Tree and spend a few days hiking up river and wading/fishing my way down. Beautiful country and beautiful fish that like to rise to the dry fly.
  6. BoneCollector

    BoneCollector Lost my MARBLES!!!!!

    Kelly Creek should be good! There were lots of baby hoppers in my camp site a couple of weeks ago and they should be getting to be good size by now! I am headed back up there in a few days for another camping trip and I am really hoping that the hoppers are going off!

  7. Vladimir Steblina

    Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

    I would skip Washington and go directly to Idaho. Big Tuna has it pegged.

    If you like cutthroats stay in Idaho. In my time, the Joe and Kelly Creek fished better than the north fork of the CDA, but that was 30 years ago. I like Kelly Creek better than the Joe.
  8. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    The San poil is trashed with downed trees. My heart is heavy, as this is my favorite walk and wade river in all of Washington. Just when it made a comeback too. No walking and wading now. More like crawling. That was my favorite river to float my toon on. Guess I'll be spending the rest of the summer floating the kettle this summer .
  9. Jim Darden

    Jim Darden Active Member

    If you are wading the whole time it changes the answer. Skip Washington, maybe hit Kelly creek in Idaho. Then move on to Montana, skipping Rock Creek. For wading I'd recommend the Missouri by Craig, Yellowstone above Livingston, Beaverhead above Dillon, Big Hole below Divide, Clark Fork around Deer Lodge, Madison around Ennis, and the Bitterroot. That's based on spending Sept-Oct camping there for the last 20+ years. Believe me you can't hit them all in two months so you will have to pare your list down. The preferences are based on the size of the fish and ease of access. Hope that helps......
  10. troutdopemagic

    troutdopemagic Active Member

    I'd spend more time in Montana as opposed to Washington without skipping Rock Creek. It's a great stream once you go off first 8 miles of paved road. The Missouri is defiantly worth hitting. Best trout stream in the state (in my opinion) the dry fly game can be tough though....
  11. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    I don't think you can plan an epic fishing trip or epic anything. You can plan the best of potential adventures, but epic is the result of serendipitous happenstance. But it's hard to go wrong with a summer or fall fishing trip. Good luck.

    Mark Kraniger likes this.
  12. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    You can't go wrong here in Montana. Any skinny water that flows down hill usually has fish in it.
  13. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    I agree--though I do hope to tip the odds in my favor of serendipitous happenstance finding me!

  14. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer


    I think I'm revising to possibly spending the whole time in Idaho. A few of those rivers in the panhandle area are looking mighty enticing. Might still go hit Rock Creek, only because I've been there a few times and it feels good to go back. We probably won't go much farther east than that this time around, mainly to conserve gas.

    I really do appreciate everyone's ideas. Definitely a huge help, and good to know about the Kettle and San Poil. Too bad they are out of shape,
    Although I've been thinking about doing a short Washington only trip in the fall, so maybe I can find some time for them then.


  15. Stewart

    Stewart Skunk Happens

    Too bad about the San Poil.

    Especially for a walk and wade trip, I'd want to add the Yaak River to that list. I'd also say it's a good area to consider bringing your bear spray with you.
  16. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

    My suggestion:
    St Joe, NF Clearwater/Kelly creek, Lochsa, and Selway. All Idaho not too much winshield time, more river time.
  17. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    The kettle was just making an awesome comeback, then they voted to allow bait back on the river. We'll see where she goes now.
  18. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    I'll second Jesse here. More fishing and less driving. You will mostly be catching westslopes, but I have also caught some very nice bows in the NF of the Clearwater. That river is definitely worth a day float in a pontoon boat. Rick
  19. jtapp83

    jtapp83 New Member

    Couple of things Montana related. Rock Creek is always a great option. It's easy enough wading and there is plenty of access. Rock Creek gets hammered this time of year, and I mean hammered. If you have the time look at your Rock Creek Map. This time of year I will only go up there, on a weekday, and I always will go to at least Microburst. That's a great place to start a long day of fishing and there are plenty of campsites around there that are roadside. It's pretty safe spot as well. Philipsburg will be your closest town, so not much crime on Rock Creek Rd, although that's never guaranteed. As for the Clark Fork. It's a tough one to fish without a boat, unless you are on the Upper Stretch near Tuxedo or something. I would recommend the N. Fork of the Blackfoot to that list. It doesn't get hit as hard because of it's location. It's just outside of Ovando, MT. There is a decent fly shop there, and the Stray Bullet Cafe has a great breakfast menu. Lastly, plan a couple of days to hang out in Missoula. We love traveling anglers.
  20. aruncus2

    aruncus2 New Member

    San Poil is full of down trees ? I have property outside of Keller and although there are some down trees, it was not too severe, most the down was in areas of past logging disturbance or root rot pockets. I am going over soon, will try to give you an update.

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