Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Lemhi River Idaho
As mentioned in the introduction, there's little public access to the Lemhi River; what is
available, is good. The trout in the Lemhi River are mostly rainbows, but there's also brook
trout and cutthroat. There's also some cut-bows. The best approach to finding other water is
to ask permission from some of the ranchers. We haven't done that but from what the local's
tell us, it's very easy to obtain permission. .
The best fishing is in the agriculture area between Leadore and Baker. There's more water
near the Lemhi's confluence with the Salmon River near the town of Salmon.
The small river is somewhat deceptive in that the undercut and willow lined banks makes it
look like great brown trout water but that isn't the case. The rainbows don't seek the cover of
the banks except to avoid the bright sun during low water conditions. The best fishing occurs
in the runs and riffles most of the time.
The trout season is subject to change but usually as follows. For December the first through
Friday before Memorial Day weekend, the Lemhi is catch and release only. Saturday of
Memorial Day weekend through November 30th, the limit is six. There's no harvest of the
cutthroat and no trout under 14 inches can be kelp.
The Salmon season is closed but we will provide a little information regarding it. Each year
salmon make an attempt to return from the Pacific Ocean through the Snake and Salmon
Rivers to spawn. The trip takes them over 1350 miles. The extent of this migration is
controlled by water temperature and levels. There has been much effort put in to see that
this migration can be accomplished successfully. During years of low water levels, riffles
along the Lemhi River make this difficult to impossible.
The steelhead season is also closed but again, here's some information about the Lemhi's
steelhead. After being in the Pacific Ocean for about a year, steelhead return to the Lemhi
River from June through August. These "A" run steelhead usually weight between four to six
Some of the "B" run steelhead also return to tributaries in the Salmon River and migrate all
the way up to the headwaters of the Lemhi. The "B" run steelhead usually spend two years in
the ocean, and start their migration from the Pacific into Idaho later in the summer or fall of
the year. This usually takes place in August or September. These fish are much larger due
to the fact they have spent two years in the Ocean. They usually average between ten to
fourteen pounds. Because of the extra year and the extra summer of growing in the ocean,
they return as much bigger fish. Steelhead that remain in the ocean for three years can
return to the Salmon River and it's tributaries weighing up to twenty pounds. Most of these
fish return to the Clearwater River but some enter the Salmon.
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Lemhi River Idaho