Here are some shots from three Middle Fork of the Salmon trips in September of 2010. We had great weather for all three trips, spectacular fly-fishing, and nearly had the river to ourselves. September is an excellent time of year on this river. If you don’t mind the lower water and scraping over rocks you can enjoy one of the best wilderness trips in the U.S. without entering the permit lottery (post-season trips).
After a summer working on Southern California’s Kern River for Kern River Outfitters, I was very excited to go to Idaho in early September to work one commercial trip for Idaho River Journeys followed by a September 11th private trip. The group we had was a mix of California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana guides. Scooter and I have both spent many summers on the Middle Fork, but this was my very first private trip.
We arrived at Boundary Creek the evening of the 10th and rigged our boats. No one else showed up – we had the eddy to ourselves. Incredible. Hiked up to Dagger Falls and then it was time for some sleep. The next morning we loaded up and pushed off. It was a beautiful day on the river. Water level was around 1.7 feet at the Middle Fork Lodge. We did some rock dodging and sliding but not too much pushing.
Camp our first night was Sheepeater Hotspring. The second day we ate lunch on the rock at Dolly Lake, then headed down to Indian Creek (the actual creek, not airstrip). The third day we went all the way to Loon Creek (about 25 miles). The fourth night was spent at Camas where we had quite the rain and wind storm. Woolard was the choice for night five and our last night on the river was spent at Lightning Strike.
Overall it was a very memorable trip. Great friends, excellent food, superb fishing… certainly will be hard to beat!
A few shots from the trip, courtesy of Tysun McMullen:
We ran a Middle Fork trip September 2, 2007 to September 6. This was two days after the river reopened from Indian Creek down to the confluence. For some time prior, the MF had been open from the Flying B to the confluence but entirely closed the week before our trip was to launch.
I had heard many rumors about what the fires had done to various camps throughout the river corridor so I was excited to take as many photos as possible. I think you will all be pleasantly surprised to hear that most of the fire activity that we could see from the river was mainly under brush, grass, low-intensity burn. There were some spots where trees had crowned but these spots were few and far between.
Immediately below Little Loon and Cameron Creek a low intensity burn follows the river right bank almost entirely down to Loon Creek. I believe that most of this burn was called the “Red Bluff Fire,” although I’m not positive. The cabin at Cougar Creek was fine. The fire was more intense at the actual “red bluff”, Culver Creek, and the section between White Creek and Shelf. Shelf itself did not appear burned and the large ponderosa on the upper end was unscathed (it was rumored to have come down). White Creek camp did see quite a bit of fire. The log pile that had previously existed 200 yards above the camp was pretty much “toast” and bushes at the downstream end were scorched. The trees in camp appeared fine but up the hill and upstream there were a lot of trees burned. Cow and Loon were fine. Whitey and Rock Island looked good but the emergency camp (sometimes referred to as “pebble beach”) on river left below Rock Island was absolutely toasted.
Below Hospital Bar on river left we saw quite a bit of fire activity. Lots of trees down, some in the river. At Cub Creek a low water run is typically on river left but won’t be possible until higher water flushes some trees out that fell into that channel. Lower Grouse is burned but it looks like just the bushes are toast and not any of the trees. At Tappan 2 there was a log stretching across the exit channel on river right below “fish and game” rock. We had to remove this log to get our sweep and other boats through. The log was moved from the channel and we tried to perch it on the left bank to keep it out of Tappan 3 but higher water will certainly push it downstream as well as a countless number of other trees. Camas was just barely burned and the large tree was fine. From Camas down we saw very little smoke (barring the very last mile on the MF and the MS corridor).
The fishing was spectacular, the fires did not seem as bad as initially reported, and we had the river all to ourselves. It was a spectacular trip and just a great experience to float through the new fire areas and see what has changed.