No. Fork Clearwater & Kelly Creek, Idaho

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Dan Nelson, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Dan Nelson

    Dan Nelson Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum

    My wife and I spent last week in the Idaho Panhandle, on the North Fork Clearwater and Kelly Creek with my brother and his wife. Rivers are still a bit high, but dropping fast. In 2-3 weeks, they will be in prime condition.

    Even with the water lapping in the brush on the banks, though, the fishing was fine, if a bit slow. We found fish every day, averaging around 14-15 inches. Smallest cuttroat was 11 inches and D. had one 10-inch bull trout (caught on a dry fly -- a #12 caddis). We were able to match a couple small hatches, but mostly we enticed the cutthroats with stimulators and attractors. Big, high-floating dries seeemed to pull the sluggish feeders out of the depths but one fly served me better than any other -- a #12 or #14 Purple Haze from the Yakima River Fly Shop. These attractors pulled scores of fish out when even perfectly matched hatches failed to draw finicky feeders out of their holes.

    On day 1, we watched one thick bodied cut, about 16 inches, slowing working a deep hole just a short cast from a gravel bar. It was feeding on a small hatch of pale mayflies, which we matched perfectly. It came up and looked at Jim's smooth presentation several time, but never took. Finally, I tried my Purple Haze and the slab-sided cut came out of the water like a starving orca, slamming the fly and flashing back into the depths. I didn't have my camera for that fish, but it was just the first of many for the week.

    While there were only a few anglers working the river, we were able to find perfect solitude and fine fishing by hiking up the Kelly Creek trail as it heads upstream from Moose Creek. The first 1 to 1.5 miles of trail stays well above the river, but beyond that, there are plenty of access points to fish-rich holes along the river. There were plenty of moose, too, to keep you entertained while working the river. Ospreys abounded on both Kelly and the No. Fork up Black Canyon.
  2. David Crowne

    David Crowne Member

    Nice report! My son and I head for the backcountry of Big Creek tomorrow. Looks like the rivers will be falling into shape. Now all we need is a dozen Purple Haze...
  3. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    One of my very favorite places in the world! I have camped at Kelly Forks Campground many times and love that whole part of the country! Good report. Rick
  4. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    BTW-I tie a Quigley Cripple using purple marabou that is a killer when almost any mayfly is hatching-something about that purple color! I was first introduced to purple flies by a guide on the Elk River who treated my friend and I to about 50 fish apeice on a purple comparadun.
  5. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Purple Haze, eh? Makes me wonder if Hendrix was a fly fisher.
  6. Dan Nelson

    Dan Nelson Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum

    That, or the folks in Cle Elum (specifically, Jim at the Yakima River Fly Shop) are Hendrix fans....