Guide for Trout Fishing in Idaho

Idaho is home to a variety of trout species, including Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, and the native Cutthroat Trout. These fish are known for their spirited fight and are a favorite among anglers. This guide will cover the essential setups, baits, techniques, and tips for catching trout in Idaho’s diverse waterways, from its serene lakes to the rushing rivers.

This guide will give you an overview of trout fishing in Idaho’s diverse waterways, from its serene lakes to the rushing rivers. Our detailed guide on how to fish for trout cover the best setups, techniques, baits, and more.

Where to catch Trout in Idaho

Idaho is renowned for its excellent trout fishing, offering a variety of locations where anglers can enjoy catching these sought-after fish. Here’s an overview of some of the best spots for trout fishing in the state:

Henry’s Fork

Henry’s Fork of the Snake River is a world-famous trout fishing destination. This river offers incredible fly fishing opportunities, particularly known for its large Rainbow Trout. The Harriman State Park section is a highlight, offering match-the-hatch fly fishing that challenges even the most experienced anglers.

Henry's Fork Idaho
Henry’s Fork

South Fork Snake River

The South Fork of the Snake River is another jewel in Idaho’s crown of trout fishing destinations. This river is celebrated for its high density of Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, along with the native Cutthroat Trout, making it a trifecta of trout fishing opportunities. Anglers can expect to use a variety of techniques, including dry flies, nymphs, and streamers, to entice these fish.

south fork snake river
South Fork Snake River

North Fork Coeur d’Alene River

The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is a quintessential mountain stream offering outstanding opportunities for catching Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Rainbow Trout. Its clear, cold waters run through lush forested landscapes, creating a picturesque setting for fly fishing. Fishing with dry flies and nymphs can be particularly productive, especially during the summer months when insect hatches are abundant. The stretches near the town of Kingston and upstream offer some of the best access and fishing spots, where anglers can enjoy the tranquility of the river and its surrounding natural beauty.

Trout in North Fork Coeur D’Alene River
Trout in North Fork Coeur D’Alene River

Silver Creek

Silver Creek is a fly angler’s paradise, known for its crystal-clear waters and challenging fishing. This spring creek is home to Rainbow and Brown Trout, offering spectacular sight fishing conditions. The Nature Conservancy’s Silver Creek Preserve is the most popular section, providing access to some of the best stretches of water.

Silver Creek Preserve, Bellevue
Silver Creek Preserve

Boise River

The Boise River, running through the heart of Boise, offers convenient access to excellent trout fishing. Following the release of hatchery-raised Rainbow Trout throughout the year, the river becomes a hotspot for anglers. The stretch below Lucky Peak Dam is particularly fruitful, with Rainbow and Brown Trout being the primary targets.

Fly fishing South fork Boise River
Fly Fishing South Fork Boise River

Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Oreille is Idaho’s deepest lake and holds record-sized Lake Trout (Mackinaw). It’s also known for its Kamloops Rainbow Trout. The lake offers trolling and jigging opportunities, with the areas around the Green Monarchs and the deeper waters of the main lake being prime spots for trophy hunters.

Trout Fishing Lake Pend Oreille
Trout Fishing Lake Pend Oreille

Tips to Catch Trout in Idaho

  • Start with a lightweight spinning rod and reel combo, around 6-7 feet in length, with 4-6 pound test line for versatility and ease of use.
  • Use live bait such as worms or nightcrawlers for river and stream fishing; these baits are highly attractive to trout.
  • For lake fishing, dough baits or power bait molded onto small hooks can be very effective, especially when fished off the bottom or suspended under a bobber.
  • Set up your hook by tying it to the end of your line using an improved clinch knot, ensuring it’s secure.
  • Add a small split shot weight 12-24 inches above the hook to ensure your bait sinks to the desired depth but remains natural in its presentation.
  • Consider using a bobber for depth control and to visually detect bites when fishing with live bait in streams and lakes.
  • Practice casting in open areas before heading to the water to get comfortable with your rod and reel.
  • Observe local regulations regarding bait and tackle restrictions, as some areas may be fly-fishing only or catch-and-release.
  • Be patient and quiet while fishing; trout are sensitive to noise and sudden movements.
  • Lastly, always respect the environment and other anglers by practicing good catch and release techniques if not keeping the fish, and by leaving no trace at your fishing spot.