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You are here: Mtn Home Outdoor Not so local Outdoor News Salmon River Hike and Fish Trip

Salmon River Hike and Fish Trip

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Part 3 of the Idaho Fishing Trip Report for 30 June 2009

The Salmon River near Salmon, Idaho

The Salmon River Canyon Trip Report
Just one of the many "kodak moments" along the Salmon River near North Fork, Idaho

In part one of this fishing trip I highlighted my experience on the South Fork of the Clearwater River near Grangeville and Kooskia, Idaho. In the second part of this adventure I told you about my hiking/fishing trip on the Selway River outside of Lowell, Idaho. I will move on to my trip to the Salmon River outside of Salmon, Idaho on the eastern part of the state in this post.
I spent the night in Salmon, Idaho on Monday June 29th, 2009. I was up early and headed towards North Fork, Idaho and the Salmon River Road. This road is also marked as Forest Service Road 30 (FSR 30) and follows the Salmon River for about 47 miles...much of it unpaved dirt and gravel road. Don't let the dirt/gravel road discourage you as this part of the country is extremely scenic especially in the morning hours. I headed down FSR 30 with no intentions of fishing this part of the river. Not that there aren't any good looking spots to fish along the road because there seemed like plenty but my goal was to hike along the river and fish.

Confluence of Middle Fork of Salmon and Main Salmon Rivers
The Middle Fork and the Main Salmon River come together HERE!

I took some pictures as I drove down the canyon and saw some cool stuff like the confluence of the main branch of the Salmon and the Middle Fork and Stoddards Pack Bridge along with about a million other "Kodak Moments". At the end of the road, there is a rather large camp ground and raft launching site called Corn Creek. I parked as close as I could to the trailhead and it wasn't that far...only about 100 yards. On a busy weekend though, I imagine finding a parking spot would be rather challenging with the sheer amount of rafters/kayakers trying to run this portion of the river. With my backpack loaded with two bottles of water, a few sandwiches and my fishing pole I headed down the trail.

Within a few minutes I entered the "River of No Return Wilderness" and was headed downstream. The trail was in great shape and didn't appear that many people had been down these parts recently. There were many more deer and animal tracks than human boot prints the entire portion I hiked. This river canyon is much narrower and with steeper mountainsides than that the Clearwater and/or the Selway Rivers. The vegetation also is more sparse and not as lush as the Selway. I suspect a drier climate has a lot to do with this. Overall, the ruggedness of the Salmon River Canyon certain makes this a more scenic place than the quite beautiful Clearwater and Selway rivers. Your mileage may vary though.

 Corn Creek Camp Ground in the distance
Corn Creek Campground in the distance

I fished a few beaches and rocky pools along the way and had no luck catching any sizable fish. Again, that was just fine with me because the surrounding were so wonderful. It really started warming up as I got about an hour down the trail. I remember thinking at one point that it might be brutally hot on my hike back to Corn Creek but that though quickly faded. Once I hiked past a pretty well known rafter campsite called Horse Creek, the temperatures really started heating up. My preliminary destination was a place called Legend Beach but I wasn't sure exactly were it was located. I just kept walking until I found a good place to settle down, kick off the boots and do some fishing.

Through the trees I catch a glimpse of a rather long stretch of white sand beach and decided that "this was the place". And what a place to hang out for an hour or two before having to head back upstream. I found out latter that I indeed had found Legend Beach on the Salmon River and it lived up to it namesake. A wide sandy beach with a big swirling pool to fish and a nice area to wade in too cool off. I kicked off the old hiking boots and put on my flip-flops and started fishing. I probably fish this area for about an hour total and never caught anything other than a bunch of small trout and a few bigger sized whitefish. At the time I really didn't care if I caught anything as this place in what I could call "magical" in its sheer beauty. After tiring of catching a bunch of real small fish I had my lunch. By this time, there was very little shade left on the beach so I decided to cool off in the river. It was so nice that I ended up swimming and then sitting in chest deep water while I fished.

Legend Beach on the Salmon River in Idaho
A great place to enjoy the day fishing and swimming - A Corona Beer Moment?

While I could have stayed at Legend Beach for the entire day, I knew it was time head back while fishing some spots I missed on the way downstream. I found out just how hot and sunny this part of the Salmon River Canyon can become. It was downright hot with little or no wind to cool me off. I dipped my shirt in the river a couple times but that didn't help much. I ran out of fresh drinking water just past Horse Creek. Quite ironic that I was getting parched with a major river no more than 30 feet away. Lessons learned!

Horse Creek Bridge of the Salmon River area in Idaho
salmon-horse-creek

By the time I made it back to Corn Creek and the campground the only thing I could think of was plunging into the river. And that I did...I walked straight into the river and cooled off in one big hurry. On the way back to my truck, I filled up my water bottles at the Ranger Station. That was more of an order from the resident Ranger as he could tell I might have been slightly dehydrated. I drank a whole bottle of water and headed back to the truck where I downed another bottle I had waiting for me and then some juice. I started feeling much better and decided to head back towards Salmon.

More Pictures

Link to the Slideshow:  http://picasaweb.google.com/tim.bondy/SalmonRiverJune2009?feat=directlink

Recommendation
If you ever get a chance to hike the Salmon River Trail from Corn Creek...jump at that chance. It is and likely will always be seared into my mind as one of the best hike/fish trips I've been on. While the fishing wasn't great, the potential was there and possibly I was using the wrong equipment??? I'm sure there are some huge trout lurking in this portion of the Salmon River. Just remember to bring extra drinking water and expect some rather warm temperatures in this canyon.

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