South Fork of the Snake River Fly Fishing Trip – Swan Valley, Idaho

Last week I was incredibly fortunate to accept a once and a lifetime invitation to fly fish the South Fork of the Snake River and to do it in style. My boss at Steve Smith Photography were gracious enough to let me escape work yet again to take up this opportunity. I was to be the fill-in/tag along to a ten person business/play trip.

The South Fork of the Snake River is situated in the south east corner of Idaho roughly forty-five minutes from Idaho Falls. The stark rolling farmland of Idaho Falls gradually makes way to a gorgeous canyon cut by the Snake River. Wheat and barley fields are slowly replaced by aspen and pine tress as Highway 26 meanders east toward the Tetons and the road drops down to the canyon floor. No more than a mile down the narrow gorgeous stretch and we were at our destination, The South Fork Lodge. This beautiful compound was established by Mark Rockefeller and his wife with the avid angler in mind. A simple yet modern lodge was the main hot spot by providing a bar, inviting lounge, dining room accommodations and guest rooms all topped off with picturesque vistas of the river valley. Only a few quick steps away from the lodge and you came upon the two larger log homes that quartered four spacious rooms. Our clan took over the top two rooms of each building. Each suite covered all the desirable necessities; comfy sheets spread across elevated queen beds, a fridge, coffee maker, cozy fireplace and of course, those expansive views. If you can front the bill for these digs, I highly recommend doing so.

So, enough blabbering about the scenery, lets talk fishing. Our first day had us on what the guides call Section 2 of the river. We were all in three person drift boats that unloaded at this spot just before the highway reaches the main bridge. This was by far my most favorite stretch of the river. Although the first day spent on the river lacked slightly in fishing (I only caught 7 fish all bigger than 15in 🙂 …….. ) the scenery made up for everything else. A cow moose nonchalantly enjoyed fully submerged river greens, bald eagles squawked eagerly over freshly caught fish, sharp canyon walls rose sharply from the river waters and yes, there were even a few browns being caught here and there. Our guide, Sue Talbot helped me ease back into the entomology lessons and casting patterns that had slipped my mind over the past eight months. If you get a chance, see if you can hook up with her on your trip down there. She really made me feel at ease, taught me a ton and positioned us perfectly into all the right spots. Sue definitely made my mark of a well qualified guide if I were someone to judge.

After a long but perfect day of fishing it was a real treat to come back to the lodge for a hot shower, classic cocktail and an amazing five star meal. The party favorite was the trout cakes as an appetizer coupled with the bison ribeye. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Day two had us on Section 3 of the river which is only accessible by the South Fork Outfitters as a put in. The land leading to the location is all owned and preserved by M. Rockefeller. As this stretch flows out of the mountains it opens up to wider canyons dotted predominantly by cotton woods close by and sage brush in the adjacent foothills. From what I was told, a good hatch on this section becomes a feeding frenzy on the deeply banked sides of the river. Big browns were much more predominant as was the overall fish count. I still only walked away with seven fish. Fortunately, there was no complaining out of me after hooking up a 17in brown floating a dry fly through a hard worked riffle. Our top fisher of the day landed nineteen fish topping the cake with a 22in brown… Way to go Jesse (Hess-Eeh)!

Another night came upon us and once again we were not to be disappointed. The chef made a special feast for us on our last evening meal. Picture perfect pallet pleasing prime rib accompanied by horseradish coated spinach and potatoes greeted our hungry appetites. Big props to the man in the white jacket for putting that feast together for us. Stogies, fire talk, poker and star gazing appropriately closed out our final night to the perfect fishing trip. I am incredibly grateful to my dad, and David for getting me on board for this trip. Also, I can’t thank my boss Steve enough for excusing me from work for this adventure. Lastly, I just want to say that there wasn’t a single soul in the group that I didn’t find inviting and open to spend some time with the young guy. Thanks to everyone who made this gig so great. I can only hope that I’m so fortunate to partake on another adventure.


~ by skier2435 on August 1, 2008.

2 Responses to “South Fork of the Snake River Fly Fishing Trip – Swan Valley, Idaho”

  1. Great shots and really good write-up RJ. It was great having a professional photographer along with us this year.

  2. Wow that is one hell of a trip. I’m seriously jealous, especially with the moose thrown in

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