Winter Fly Fishing In Idaho


We’ve been having an unseasonably warm winter here in Southern California. That said, there are still days where it seems like it isn’t worth the bother to go out and fish. The water is colder. Other than a short stretch in January, the “exotics” have been absent locally. And until March 1st, the bottomfish that thrive in the colder water were closed off from fishing.

So it is with other parts of the country, like Idaho. On top of the cold weather, many of the rivers and streams are private access only. Find about a public-access spot that offers a unique flyfishing opportunity this time of year.

idaho_winterflySuch is the case with Idaho’s Bear River as it runs through Black Canyon near the little farming town of Grace and just over Fish Creek Summit from the resort community of Lava Hot Springs. This is one of only a handful of public access points to the Bear in Idaho that’s easily reached by the public—a cooperative arrangement between Idaho Fish and Game and Pacificorp allows anglers to visit this gorgeous stretch of river in southeastern Idaho, where rainbows and native Bonneville cutthroat trout can be dependably targeted.

And winter might be the best time of year to pay this stretch of river a visit.

Here’s the deal—taking on the Bear isn’t your typical winter fly fishing expedition. Most of the Bear River is actually diverted into a pipe above the town of Grace for hydropower production. What’s left in the riverbed as it flows through Black Canyon is spring water that seeps into the riverbed and runs much warmer than the average ambient temperature of your usual December or January day. And there’s enough water to support truly good fishing—for truly respectable trout—in this stretch of water, no matter what month of the year you choose to visit.

Photos: Hatch Fly Magazine (top), Fly Fishing Forum (above)

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Joe Sarmiento
Joe is an avid saltwater angler. He grew up in Washington State on the south end of Puget Sound where he first started fishing as a boy catching perch, flounder, rockfish, and occasionally salmon. Today, Joe lives in Southern California where he fishes off beaches and jetties, kayaks, and sportfishing boats. Joe writes about his saltwater adventures in the SoCal Salty blog, and for Western Outdoor News.