Best Salmon Fishing in Idaho

best salmon fishing in idaho

Chinook salmon fishing in Idaho can make for a great trip for the small window of time that seasons are open. The salmon travel hundreds of miles up the Columbia River Gorge hundreds of miles to get to their spawning grounds in Idaho. At Lewiston some of these fish head up the Snake and Salmon Rivers while the rest continue up the Clearwater River, creating arguably the best salmon fishing in Idaho.

The Clearwater River in idaho offers some of North America’s best fishing for spring-run Chinook salmon.

After spending four or five years at sea (where they’re called King Salmon), “Springers” are big and they have an attitude. On average, these Idaho salmon will weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. They’ve also been getting larger each year, some weighing up to 40 pounds.

Some stretches of the Clearwater have places that are 70 or so feet deep, making great holding water to hammer large pods of fish. You will use a combination of fishing methods including back-bouncing bait and back trolling. Usually when hookups happen all at once with several fish on all at the same time.

The Idaho salmon fishing season usually runs May through June.

The fish are plentiful, but fishing during the spring salmon run is limited. The State of Idaho sets a quota which, once met, closes the season.

Travel to the Clearwater River in Idaho

The bulk of the best salmon fishing in Idaho occurs between or around the towns of Orofino and Lewiston, Idaho. The closest airport is Lewiston, Idaho. However it may be easier to fly into Spokane, Washington with limited flights to Lewiston. Car rentals are available in Spokane and Lewiston.

For overnight lodging, we suggest staying at the Best Western Lodge at River’s Edge in Orofino, ID. The hotel is closest to the boat launch sites, and the staff will gladly make you a boxed lunch for your day trip (by request). Ask for the “Sportsman’s Rate” and get 10% off your stay.

If you prefer staying in nearby Lewiston, we recommend The Red Lion. The hotel offers you a choice of rooms or suites and includes an onsite restaurant that is delicious.

Book a Fishing trip

Gear You Should Bring:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof rain pants
  • Microfiber undergarments that wick away perspiration
  • Microfiber fleece pants and shirt
  • Wool socks
  • Stocking cap or hat with ear flaps
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Boots (Tennis shoes not advised in fall/winter)
  • Personal lunch and snacks
  • Idaho License and Salmon Permit
  • Quality Rods, Reels
  • Bait
  • Tackle

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