Trout, Cutthroat Trout
Destination Type
Float Trip
Fishing Style
Drift Boat, Dry Fly, Sightfishing, Wading
June - September
Fishing Days
4 - 6
Why We Go
  • Fish the most prolific and unspoiled westslope cutthroat trout fishery in the world.
  • Enjoy what many consider the finest multi-day wilderness float trip in America.
  • Exceedingly comfortable wilderness streamside camps.
  • Enjoy incredible Dutch oven cuisine.
  • Experience superb staff and guides that know the canyon and its' history better than anyone.

The most prolific and unspoiled westslope cutthroat trout fishery in the world, the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River offers what many consider the finest multi-day wilderness float trip in America.

While the fly fishing is excellent throughout the season, the early season favors big white water, and the late season favors fly fishing. From July through September, low flows offer non-stop dry fly action for anglers of all skill levels. Late season fly fishing-only trips are limited to eight anglers and begin with a fly-in to the middle river allowing ample time to thoroughly fly fish this remarkable wilderness river.

For group members interested in more than fishing, hiking and paddling inflatable kayaks are daily options. Add to that the natural hot springs, native pictographs, and abundant wildlife of the area, and you will quickly see why we consider this trip a never to be forgotten experience for family groups and nature-loving anglers alike.

Fishing Program

The Middle Fork of the Salmon is known as one of America's premier rivers for native West-slope cutthroat trout. In order to preserve this fishery, regulations are very strict. The river and tributaries are catch and release only with single barbless hooks and no bait fishing.

By mid July and throughout August and September the Middle Fork is at its "summer prime", which means hot weather, warmer water, and lower flows ideal for fly fishing. Trips in July will be primarily rafting seats, meaning less room for anglers. August is the prime month for a full 6 day trip split between fly fishing and river rafting. In September all of the seats will be for fly fishing.

Cutthroat trout were once the dominant trout species of the western United States. In fact, cutthroat were the first salmonid chronicled by Lewis & Clark on their historic journey west. Among the angling cognoscenti, cutthroat hold a warm spot. They are a beautiful fish, often sprouting intense yellow, orange and red shades, and they are very willing to take a dry fly.

While progress has not been kind to the cutthroat, the Middle Fork remains one of their great strongholds. Since 1973 a catch-and-release, single barbless hook only policy has allowed the trout to thrive. Middle Fork cutthroat average 12 to 15 inches in length, with some up to 19 inches. Framed by the Sawtooth and Salmon River Mountains in the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the Middle Fork provides a stunningly beautiful backdrop for pursuing this great fish.

The cutthroat of the Middle Fork are very surface-oriented. Standing in the bow of the boat, you'll cast easy-to-follow attractor patterns -- Stimulators, Schroeder's Hoppers and Parachute Adams - against granite walls, behind mid-river rocks and along the seam lines of back-eddies. More often than not, your casts will bring a vigorous rise. The crystalline waters of the Middle Fork often let you follow the action from when the fish begins to move for the fly to when it takes. Because the fish are very opportunistic, they're willing to take flies on top throughout the day, whether there's a hatch on or not-and in summer, the hatches of caddis flies can be so prolific that you can barely open your mouth.

Thanks to the cutthroat's cooperative nature, there are few better places to introduce newcomers to fly fishing than the Middle Fork. It's a wonderful thing to watch a spouse or son or daughter make a cast, set the hook, and land their first fish.

While most of the fishing on the Middle Fork is done from inside the drift boat with one angler casting from the bow at a time, there are several feeder creeks in the course of the 106-mile float-including Loon and Camas Creeks-that offer excellent pocket water fly fishing for cutts and native redside rainbows. These creeks provide a special treat for the angler who enjoys wet wading and the intimate dynamics of creek fly fishing. You will generally camp at a few of these creeks in the course of the float, so the angler who can't get enough can fly fish before/after dinner and breakfast. When floating, both anglers can cast at the same time if experienced.

Come September, the clear waters of the Middle Fork begin cooling down from the summer heat, and the river sees a lot less traffic. Cooler weather means that the fishing picks up considerably as the native cutthroat trout begin to pack on weight for the difficult winter ahead.

September can be one of the most special times of the year to be on the Middle Fork; the nights are cooling down, but the days are still quite comfortable. With the cooling nights the aspens that intermingle with the Lodgepole pines begin to put on a riotous show of color-the river in fall is beautiful beyond words. Because the water is lower at this time of year, the float begins downstream from the normal put-in point, making the trip roughly 70 miles. This provides more time to focus longer on productive fishing spots!

At this time of year, rafts are used instead of drift boats, as they allow the guides to maneuver the Middle Fork's many rapids more smoothly. The small rafts allow teh guides to run all of the rapids, where as the drift boats would at times require anglers to walk around some rapids and thus cut into your fishing time. Their rafts are extremely maneuverable, allowing them to hold in eddies and other good water longer than possible with a "conventional" white water raft.


The outfitter provides everything from quality camping gear to gourmet meals, and all is top notch. Their large supply raft runs ahead of the groups and carries the camp supplies and most duffels. Each night's camp will be waiting for you when you arrive after a day on the river. Large four person tents are provided for every two people, and chairs are set out to relax in while you gaze at the spectacular vistas surrounding camp. In fact, all you need to bring is your personal clothes. Everything else is provided, including the sleeping bag and pad.


Day 1: Arrive Stanley. Meet with outfitter and overnight.

Days 2 - 6: Full days of guided floating and fishing.

Days 7: Float / fish to takeout. Transfer to Stanley and travel via air taxi to Boise.

Day 8: Depart Boise.

Rates & Details

2024 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

Fly Fishing Float Trip (June - August):

  • 5 night/6 day package: $4,350

Upper Section Float Trip (September):

  • 3 night/4 day package: $4,300

Canyon Float Trip (September):

  • 4 night/5 day package: $3,500

Included: All meals while on the river, including lunch the last day, round-trip ground transportation from Stanley to the river and return to Stanley at the end of the trip, camping gear, life jacket, dry duffel for your personal gear (size: 12"x 24"), waterproof container for your day use items, wine with dinner only, an ample supply of cold beverages, and fishing gear

Not Included: Transportation to and from Stanley, Idaho, meals and accommodations in Stanley, personal items, alcohol and additional wine (please bring your own), gratuities, licenses

Species: West slope cutthroat trout

Season: June – September

Capacity: 8 – 10 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Where is the trip? The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho.

How do I get there? Trips depart from Stanley, Idaho. Guests can either fly to Boise, ID and rent a car for the three hour drive to Stanley or take a short flight via air taxi.

When should I go? Late June trips are considered a premier whitewater trip. July flows offer the combination of big whitewater and fly fishing. The lower flows of August and September favor fly fishing only trips.

Where do they fish? Most of the fishing is done on the Middle Fork. Feeder creeks offer an added walk/wade bonus on most days.

Who is best suited for this destination? Anglers of any skill level that enjoy throwing dry flies to smaller fish in a pristine wilderness setting. This is a great trip for families where some will fish all day, every day and others wish to enjoy the whitewater float trip.

What are the accommodations and meals like? Guests stay two together in large four-person tents with cots and sleeping pads. Solitude has built a reputation for outstanding food, and guests never go away hungry. There is always plenty! The meals feature fresh vegetables, lunch and dinner salads, salmon, chicken, New York steaks, two inch thick pork chops grilled over mountain mahogany coals, and Dutch oven cooking (biscuits, rolls, desserts) that is second to none.

Can you describe the atmosphere in camp? Evenings and mornings in camp are my favorite part of the trip! Guests are free to enjoy their time relaxing in camp or going for hikes. All of the camps are set up on, or near, productive water for those who want to fish every possible opportunity. The guides and camp crew are excellent hosts and make sure everyone is extremely comfortable.

Is the owner on-site? If not, who is the manager or point person? The owner is a guide on most, if not all, trips throughout the season. There is always an established trip leader and the camp staff do a great job of checking in on everyone in camp.

Is there internet or cell service? There is no cell service in the canyon. All trips will have a sat phone for emergency use only.

How do they fish? The fishing is all dry flies for cutthroat in the 10″ – 14″ range.

How many fish will I catch? While catch rates will vary somewhat throughout the season, guests can expect to catch 15 – 24 fish per day if they’re fishing consistently.

Will we see other anglers? You will see other groups on the river. This generally has little to no effect on anyone’s catch rates. The Middle Fork is a permitted river to prevent overcrowding.

Where do we stay? Camps are moved downstream everyday by a separate crew so that you will float into a fully prepared camp every afternoon.

What is the cost? The rate changes at different times of the season and whether you are in a fly fishing boat or a whitewater boat. Please see the Rates and Details section above.

Does this destination combine well with other destinations? The takeout near Salmon, ID has you within 3 hours of the varied trout waters of western and southwestern Montana.

What are the guides like? The guides are dedicated professionals that spend years working on the Middle Fork. They are not only skilled fly fishing guides, but veritable encyclopedias of the natural and human history of the Frank Church Wilderness. I found that the guides really enriched my experience.

Does the outfitter provide equipment? The guides are able to provide rods and reels, if needed.

What is your favorite rod(s) for this trip? This is the ultimate 3-weight trip! I bring my 8’6″ 3-weight for the majority of my fishing with a 5-weight backup rod in case the wind becomes an issue.

Are there other activities? Only floating and fly fishing. July and August trips will have a few inflatable kayaks for guests to use.

What are the physical demands? Each day offers side hikes to various petroglyphs, waterfalls or hot springs. The hikes are generally short and not especially taxing.

Dangers and annoyances? Some biting bugs like mosquitos can be present but are often not a major issue.

Tell us about yourself and we'll reach out to plan the details of your trip