Salmon River and Mackay Reservoir Fishing

The Salmon River is in excellent condition from above Challis to Salmon, and fish are being caught throughout. We have had very few reports above Challis, but downstream folks are picking up fish in the Deer Gulch/Ellis area. Copper spoons have been the popular lure, and drifting shrimp or Green Butt Skunk flies are working as well. Last week’s Fish and Game report shows fishing below North Fork was 2 hours per fish, with 18 anglers being checked and 17 fish caught.

Mackay reservoir ice fishing has been very good this winter with limits of good sized kokanee being caught, and some large rainbows as well. Jigging a Swedish Pimple tipped with spikes or a wax worm is the answer for both kokanee and trout, and we picked up kokanee throughout the water column in 35 to 40 feet of water.

This guy was seen fishing the Salmon river above Cottonwood campground.

Salmon River Steelhead Fishing

Winter seemed to have forgotten us this year… Deadwater has broke, the river is flowing clear and steelhead are being caught. Most of the reports are from Pahsimeroi down river, but there have been some fish caught just upstream of town. Half-fast casting spoons have been very effective, as well as bait shrimp and drifting black flies. Today and tomorrow are going to continue to be warm which may cloud up the river a bit, but by Monday the temperatures will come down a bit, just enough to clear the water up and keep it nice and fishable. Be sure to call the store for current river conditions before you head out.


Salmon River Steelhead Fishing

Salmon River


Fishing for steelhead has slowed down due to the cooler temperatures that have arrived this week. Water temperatures are in the mid to high 30’s around Challis. You are going to have to bump them on the nose to get a bite for now. Try using larger,darker flies to get their attention and fish deep, either with a long leader and some weight, or a sink tip line.

For casting or spinning, jigs and bouncing shrimp probably will work best for bait, and drifting flies like a big Green Butt Skunk or a Rabbit Leech ig you don’t want to use bait.

Just put on the warm woollys , dress warm,and hit the river before the ice starts !


Still Catching Steelhead

“That kid who works here”- Dustin, caught this beautiful steelhead yesterday below Deer Gulch swinging a black egg sucking leech. Fisherman are still catching steelhead from below the Pahsimeroi all the way up to the Stanley hatchery. The river is running just a bit high but is in great condition clarity-wise. Come on out and enjoy the last two weeks of the steelhead season- the weather is supposed to be good, but no too good!

Lots of folks are fishing the golf course pond and catching the big trout and steelhead that have been stocked in there.

We haven’t had any reports on the mountain lakes, but as cold as the nights have been, they probably still have ice. Mackay reservoir is ice-free and should be fishing well right now.

Salmon River Fishing Report

Fishing on the Salmon River for steelhead was still good the week even though we had some tough weather off and on. High water created problems for a lot of fisherman, but those who kept fishing prevailed.  Above East Fork was the best fishing (section 19) with the next best below the Pahsimeroi (section 17). Section 18 was slow but a few fish were caught. The water is still high but clears up in the morning and stained in the afternoon but is still fishable. Water temperatures go from high 30’s just below Stanley to low 40’s below Ellis.

Swinging flies are catching some fish,Try flies with blue/black,orange, or copper) along with nymphing which is more typical this time of year. Drift fisherman are using bait mostly, but spoons are also working.

Salmon River Steelhead Fishing

The cold temperatures earlier in the week have lowered the water and cleared it up considerably. We’ve had reports from below Pahsimeroi all the way up to Stanley of people catching fish. The folks I’m talking to today are using cured eggs, and the fly fishermen have been catching fish on egg patterns. Everyone we talk to is reporting that the fish being caught are nice, big ones. The Pahsimeroi hatchery is still getting fish in good numbers and have close to 2500 fish, and the Sawtooth hatchery has over 1,000 fish.


The Salmon River has dropped at the Clayton gauge from 2000 cfs on the 23rd to 1400 cfs today(28th), the water has cleared and steelhead are being caught. The stars have all aligned and it’s time to go fishin’! Fishing improved throughout the weekend with fish being caught upstream and downstream of Challis. The water has cleared all of the way down to below Salmon so you have a long stretch of river available to fish. Right now, patterns for flies pretty much run the gambit from black and purple and blue to bright egg patterns and everything in between. Skunks, rabbit leeches, stonefly nymphs,and intruder style of flies should work if you can get the fly in front of the fish. Try to keep it slooooow to entice the fish. The water temp is running on the cool cool side around Challis-low 40’s.

Drift and spin fisherman should  try copper, gold, blues and greens for spoons and spinners,roe and shrimp for bait.

Photos are below the Challis Bridge today

Salmon River Fishing Report

The Salmon is still off color with about 16″ of visibility. A few fish are being caught upstream but not many. With the water clearing and dropping the fishing should improve. You can probably expect the river to keep dropping for the next few days with the colder nighttime temperatures.

Salmon River Fishing Report

Below Challis Bridge 3/22 in the morning

The Salmon River’s flows have increased over the past few days contributing  to the low visibility of the river. Yesterday afternoon the river had cleared significantly but the flows increased due to the  temperatures later. Right now the clearest water seems to be in the afternoon and in the morning green. The river peaked early  this morning at a little over 2000 cfs at the Clayton gauge but has dropped to 1970 cfs  and is still dropping. Hoping the cooler weather will slow all of this down. The fish are showing up with the last report at the Pahsimeroi Hatchery showing 788 fish on March 20th.  Fishing has remained slow but hoping it will get better by this weekend.

Salmon River Fishing Report

Steelhead fishing is still slow on the Salmon River but fish are being caught upriver of Challis. Your best bet for now is fishing above the East Fork where the water is clearer. The current flow at the Clayton gauge is 1690 cfs. A few fish have been caught nymphing steelhead stone patterns and bunny bug style of flies. Roe and shrimp are the best bet for the drift fisherman.