KSL Outdoors: Fishing the Salmon River

(Adam) Welcome to KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle along with my good buddy Dan Carrico from Twin Falls. (dan) Good to see you again Adam. (adam) you too, we are overlooking the Snake River but we are not fishing the Snake are we. (dan) that’s right we are headed a couple of hundred miles up by Challis, Idaho to fish the Salmon River. (adam) steelhead? (dan) Steelheed, you bet we are going to work them over. (adam) I can’t wait, hey we’ve got to run into Sportsman’s real quick grab a few things before we head up and meet Jumping J.C. With 103.5, the arrow.

(Adam) Alright so the fishing manager here at the Twin Falls Sportsman’s Warehouse Dusty Jenkins, what do we need? (dusty Jenkins, Fishing Manager) You need if you are going to fish out of a boat, you are going to need your basics. Hooks, swivels, yarn and corkies.

(Dusty) Your oranges, your pinks, and your chartreuses are by far your most popular colors.

(Dusty) the new thing to do in the upper stretch is to use a trout bead, which is basically a hard plastic bead, little hole in it. (adam) holding it with a toothpick. (dusty) toothpick or you can use the new trout bead peg it system. Which is a soft rubber, it’s better on your line.

(Adam) Thanks Roberta, alright we’ve got our gear our licenses, let’s go hit the river.

(Jon Carter, 103.5 the Arrow) Beautiful day, Salmon River, there is steelhead in here migrating steelhead, they come clear from the ocean, 900 miles. You catch them, I’m not going to tell you how, but it’s fun! Let’s do it!>

Chasing Steelhead is something Jon Carter and his brother-in-laws Rock and Rick have done for nearly 20 years. Jon is so much more than a radio jock, he can downright fish.

(Jon) That’s your spin and glow right there. That makes them really mad and that’s just a corkie to help it float. No bait yet! The secret bait is coming.

(jon) What we have here is fresh water clam, clams come right out of this river and we slice it up, slice it thin to win and we don’t actually use it for bait, we actually eat it for lunch. No it’s horrible. That’s the bait right there, that’s the magic.

The trick is to get that bait into the face of the steelhead so they’ll bite it out of aggression.

(jon) Steelhead fisherman, feel bottoms better. (laughs) right. I can feel that bottom like it’s my own finger. (laughs)

Idaho’s steelhead are often classified into two groups: A-run and B-run. A-run fish are usually found in the Snake and Salmon Rivers. They spend just one year in the ocean and migrate back to the rivers to spawn. They tend to weigh 4-6 pounds. B-run fish most often return to the Clearwater River and some tributaries of the Salmon River. These fish spend two years in the ocean and can weigh 10 to 13 pounds. But all these fish are tough to catch. Leave it to the local to latch into the first.

(Jon) I’ve said it before they are a rainbow trout on steroids, they’re just fun to catch, they are a real challenge. You can go a lot of places and catch rainbows. These fish are just challenging. It’s almost like when you don’t catch them you want to come back quicker and try it again because it’s driving you crazy. Why can’t I catch one of these things.

well Carrico, come on you catch the only dolly and the only steelhead this morning. You are hogging all the good holes. (dan) I didn’t know I brought a bunch of whiners. (laughs) (jon) he must be from Twin Falls. (dan) it’s fun, the ball is just starting, it’s going to be a good time guys. (jon) that’s a nice fish, gorgeous Idaho A run steelhead. (adam) A run, it’s got a fin clipped so it’s actually a fish you could keep if you wanted. (dan) but we are going to let this baby.

I’ve fished for steelhead many times and every time I learn a different technique. Not long ago I went with Mountain Rivers Outfitters and guide Brad Sawyer. His techniques for the lower Salmon down near Riggins were different than you might use on the upper salmon but definitely worked in the deeper waters.

(Brad Sawyer, Mountain Rivers Outfitters, Riggins, Idaho) We’ve got a jig that’s barb-less of course and then a bead that’s about a foot above that and then it goes to a lead. And then the main line and then the float and then one more bead and this orange corky. At the top of this is a the bobber stop and that’s what sets our depth.>

(Brad) Ideally we want this jig about two feet above the bottom. The bobber rig works great in deeper water from a jet boat, drift boat, even from shore. Another technique I’ve caught fish on is done from a drift boat as you back troll. It’s sometimes called a truck and trailer.

<(Brad) Otherwise known as a bait diver combo. Essentially it's a plug that doesn't have any hooks, this is what is getting the bait down to where the fish is and then you come back, three to three and a half feet and then we've got a shrimp. A double hook rig with a stinger on the back just to make sure if we have any short biters.>

(Brad) and then we back troll, the idea is you are putting this bait, you’re backing it slowly into where fish could be holding and you are pushing them into a fight or flight. They just continue to see it getting closer and closer until they had enough of it. They either take it as food or until you put in into their bubble.

(Brad) Oh that’s a nice fish. There he is reel, reel, reel. Tip down, tip down, there you go good.

Steelhead are one of the most elusive and sought after game fish in the Pacific Northwest. You can fish from the bank, a boat, even hire a guide. A lot of fishermen travel to Alaska for this type of experience, but you don’t need to. You can find it right here in Idaho.

(Tag toss to Fish Tech) so you really don’t have a lot of time to get up here and fish the Salmon but the season does open September 1st and runs through April 30th. There are a lot of good, fun times up here on the Salmon River.

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