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Idaho: Fishing for Trout in the True Mecca of Fly Fishing

South Fork Snake River

During this past summer of guiding in Idaho, myself and two other guides needed a break from the area and we decided to drive out to Montana for a few days and go fly fishing for trout on the Madison River.  For me, it would be a trip to my old stomping grounds. Before guiding at Teton Valley Lodge, I had spent five years guiding in Montana; known in the fly fishing world as the “Mecca of fly fishing.”

Montana was a romantic lifestyle for me; filled with evening dry fly fishing, bears, great friends and of course large trout.

Montana was a romantic lifestyle for me; filled with evening dry fly fishing, bears, great friends and of course large trout.
Finally, after a 1.5-hour drive, we had arrived at the world re-known Madison River.  We decided to visit the local fly shop to buy licenses as well as find out what was going on with the river.

As I chatted with the owner, an old friend of mine, we began talking about the difference between Idaho fly fishing vs Montana.  He mentioned to me that he had a client just weeks ago who had been on a fly fishing trip including both states.  He went on to tell me that he had sent this gentleman with one of his best guides to float the Upper Madison.   He also mentioned that this certain client carried a fish counter with him, and made sure to “click” every trout landed.

“I have only caught a dozen fish today! While I was in Idaho last week, I caught a total of over 200 fish in three days, all on dry flies!”

During their float, fishing was tough.  At lunch, only 12 trout had been landed between two anglers.  As the day progressed the fishing got worse and eventually tension was evident between guest and guide.  As tension grew, the guest finally threw his hands in the air and said:  “I have only caught a dozen fish today! While I was in Idaho last week, I caught a total of over 200 fish in three days, all on dry flies!”

Teton River

As the owner of the shop was telling me this story he looked at me with disgust and asked me “Can you believe that guy!?  Over 200 fish in three days in Idaho?!”  I paused before responding to him, trying to calculate how I was going to answer. I responded:  “Did by chance this client have a nephew of his with him?”  “Yes he did, how did you know that?” he replied.  “Was his name (blank) and his nephew’s name (blank)?”  I asked.

As I said the two names, I could see the blood in my friends face rise and then he asked.  “Don’t you dare tell me that you guided for those guys!”  I smiled and fired back “I sure did, and I can verify that they caught over 200 fish during their trip in Idaho.  They hit the salmon fly hatch perfectly and they had an absolute hay day on dries! I witnessed it myself!”

Embarrassed and upset, he quickly gave us our licenses and all but kicked us out of his shop.  During the rest of our fishing trip in Montana, albeit the fishing was good, I felt vindicated and more convinced that Idaho is The True Mecca of Fly Fishing.

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