The Best Rafting Trips for Fishing
Fishing is a great way to pass the time on multi-day rafting trips. Some of the best fishing in the country lies in remote places, typically only accessible by whitewater raft. You get to experience how the fish behave and feed in their natural habitat, unlike in a stocked lake. Wilderness fishing destinations are typically not fished very often, unlike the popular holes in your average nearby creek.
Rafting trips provide a unique opportunity to fish pristine wilderness rivers that are uncrowded by people and crowded by fish. Here are the best multi-day rafting trips for having the most epic days of fishing of your life.
1. The Middle Fork of the Salmon - Idaho
Western Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, Brook Trout, Steelhead
The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a legendary fishing river. The cutthroats on this river are incredibly accommodating, aggressively striking at a variety of large, easy to follow dry flies. Beginner fishers will have plenty of success on this river, and advanced fishers will have a series of epic days. The regulations on the Middle Fork are fairly strict to protect the pristine ecosystem nestled in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The regulations require catch-and-release fishing, barbless hooks, and no bait. The spectacular Idaho wilderness provides the perfect fishing backdrop for a fun, aggressive western fish.
2. The Selway River - Idaho
Western Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, Steelhead, Chinook Salmon
The Selway is another spectacular Idaho wilderness trip, cutting through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. Like the Middle Fork, the Selway is one of the premier rivers in the world for Western Cutthroat fly fishing. It is not unusual for a skilled fisher to pull in close to fifty cutthroat a day. Like the Middle Fork, regulations during peak season require catch-and-release fishing, barbless hooks, and no bait. For most of the permitted rafting season, the Selway is a low volume river filled with boulder fields, making tons of potential fishing holes in a relatively small area. The shallow, clear water means the fish respond very well to dry flies for fun, sporty fishing.
3. The South Fork of the Flathead - Montana
Western Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout
Montana's premier fly fishing river cuts deep through the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. With no roads or airstrips providing access, the typical way into the wilderness section is by horsepacking. During the summer, the South Fork of the Flathead is one of the only rivers in the country where you can target bull trout. The cutthroat and bulls in this river respond very well to large dry flies and will put up a great fight. The South Fork is the place to come to catch the biggest bull of your life. The isolated nature of this wilderness trip makes for one of the best fishing trips.
4. Hell's Canyon of the Snake River - Idaho
Small Mouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Sturgeon
The Hell's Canyon section of the Snake River is one of the best multi-day river trips for bass fishing in the country. The small mouth bass on this section are extremely responsive to both poppers and flies. Crystal clear waters on the Snake allow you to watch fish rise from as deep as six feet down to hit your fly. Small mouth bass put up one of the best fights of any fish, making for exhilarating fishing as you float through the deep, rugged landscape of Hell's Canyon.
5. Wild and Scenic Rogue River - Oregon
Steelhead, Chinook Salmon, King Salmon Rainbow Trout
The Rogue River sees some of the best spring and fall steelhead runs in the Pacific Northwest. It also offers fishing for an incredibly unique and rare fish, the "half-pounder" trout. Half pounders are actually immature steelhead, which, for reasons unknown to science, run back up the river after only a few months in the ocean. This phenomenon occurs only here in the Pacific Northwest, on the Rouge, Klamath, and Eel rivers. These immature steelhead are the size of a big trout, but hit and fight like a steelhead when you get them on the line. The Wild And Scenic stretch of the Rogue River provides a beautiful wilderness backdrop while you hunt for these unique fish.
6. Koktuli River - Alaska
King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Coho Salmon, Rainbow Trout
Alaska is a state full of phenomenal wilderness fly fishing rivers, and the Koktuli is up there with the best of them. The salmon runs in the summer make for fantastic salmon fishing, and also provide the rainbows with ample food. It is not uncommon to land rainbows over 20" long after they have been feeding on salmon roe for a while. Moose and caribou are also common sights along the Koktuli. If you are planning a fly fishing trip to Alaska, the Koktuli River is the one to do!
Where do you like to fish? Let us know your favorite spot, without giving away too many secret spots.