Idaho, an anglers paradise.
Three Rivers Ranch is licensed to fish some of the best rivers in the world, more than any other outfitter in the area!
The fishing offered at the Ranch is on the best rivers in the American West if not the world, with plenty of fish on which to test your skills. Large trout lurk in every river and stream you will fish though, except on rare occasions, to hook a trout of more than 18 inches requires that you forsake some action in favor of trophy hunting.
Tackle requirements will vary somewhat from angler to angler, depending on the time of year and the style of fishing you favor. Clients will be briefed in detail regarding their tackle needs and options in plenty of time to prepare for the trip. Fly fishing is emphasized, with on-stream instruction offered at no extra charge. Guests need not even concern themselves with having the right flies for prevailing conditions. Three Rivers’ Orvis fly shop carries an ample supply for all contingencies. You pay only for those you use.
Three Rivers is extraordinary in that fishing days are arranged to satisfy the desire of each angler. Should you want to float every day, you float. If you want to spend a week stalking selective or large trout, then stalk you will. Most guests split their time between wading and floating, thus enjoying the best of both worlds. Options are nearly limitless. The blue-ribbon rivers and streams running through ranch property or located just a stone’s throw from the main gate are among America’s best.
Where do you want to fish?
We are proud to be licensed to guide on more water than any other outfitter in the area. Your options are infinite with the variety of fishable water you will find offered at Three Rivers Ranch. Truth is, you’re sure to run out of vacation before you’ll run out of rivers to fish. Each day your guide will coordinate with you as to which sections are offering the most productive hatches for fishing.
Sometimes the best part of your vacation is the anticipation. The three rivers we fish mostly, (& for good reason), are the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, South Fork of the Snake River, and the Teton River. Within reasonable distance, we have roughly 16 blue ribbon rivers and several high mountain lakes that we are licensed to fish. We are also licensed to fish the Owyhee River in Oregon & the Boise River (provided by Three Rivers Ranch – Boise). Here is a brief look at the rivers we love.
Henry’s Fork of the Snake River
The Henry’s Fork (North Fork) of the Snake River – We are blessed to be near one of the most famous trout streams in all of the United States. The Henry’s Fork encompasses 1.7 million acres and over 3,000 miles of rivers, streams and canals in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. Here, you will find some of the finest fishing in the entire United States.
The Henry’s Fork derives its name from Andrew Henry, an early fur trader and partner in the Missouri Fur Company. Henry first entered the Snake River plateau in 1810 and built Fort Henry on the upper Snake River, about five miles south of present day St. Anthony.
The Henry’s Fork is a tremendous dry fly fishery loaded with many species of trout, large wild rainbows and the ever elusive brown. The river flows through gentle flowing ranch land, timber covered canyons, and spring creek like sections, with tributaries that are spectacular fisheries in their own right.
South Fork of the Snake River – Few rivers in America can provide a fly fishing experience like that of The South Fork of the Snake River. The Snake River begins high in Yellowstone National Park and flows through Grand Teton National Park into Palasades Reservoir which borders Wyoming and Idaho. Below Palisades Dam begins the stretch of the river, referred to as the “South Fork”. The South Fork of the Snake boasts 4032 fish per mile, which makes it one of the most productive Blue Ribbon rivers in the country. The quality of fishing on the South Fork has improved dramatically since a slot limit was introduced. All fish between 8 and 16 inches (the prime breeders) must be released and anglers are only allowed to keep two fish that aren’t rainbows.
For the best dry fly action the river is best fished from July through mid August. The first half of July is the height of the prolific stone fly hatches, which brings just about all of the fish to the surface to gorge themselves on one of the largest dry flies, the largest of the Stone Flies, the Salmon Fly is sometimes 3 inches in length.
By the first week of August the fish are a bit more reluctant to bite as most have been caught and released several times by then. When the fish continue to refuse dry flies, emerger and cripple patterns are highly effective, especially “when the fish are feeding in the riffles and back channels.
The warm summer days of August bring out one of the trout’s favorite foods, the grasshopper. When the fish are keying in on hoppers and are becoming weary of hopper patterns, try twitching a rubber legged hopper pattern. The twitching motion of those rubber legs can entice a wary fish into a strike.
The Teton River
The Teton River is an 81.5 mile-long tributary of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. It drains through the Teton Valley along the western side of the Idaho-Wyoming border. It’s location along the Tetons provides the river with more rainfall than many other rivers in the region.
The Teton River provides some of the best fly fishing for both the beginner and the advanced angler. The fish, which consist of Rainbow, Cutthroat, Cutt-bows, and Brook Trout, as well as Whitefish, grow quite large in the Teton River due to the prolific hatches occurring throughout the spring and into the fall. Because of the many springs that feed it, the Teton maintains a near constant temperature in the upper stretch. This makes for ideal conditions for great hatches. When the water temperature does not vary much, the mayflies, caddis and stoneflies can continually reproduce, resulting in big fat fish and happy fisherman.
Pale Morning dun mayflies and Caddis flies hatches start around the middle of June. This hatch generally lasts throughout the season. Baetis, Mahogany duns and Rusty spinners hatches come off in July and last well into fall. Grasshoppers appear around late July and provide some great fishing into early September and beyond. The Grey Drake hatches start in September, the drakes are a very large mayfly and are about 1 – 1 1/2 inches in size, this is the most exciting time to fish the Teton because you’ll find that you will probably have the river to yourself. Bellow Harrop Bridge you will see Stoneflies, as large as three inches in early June and sequentially smaller stoneflies throughout the rest of the season. At times you may have to fish a nymph dropper off an attracter fly but most of the time a single attracter fly is all that is needed to bring fish after fish to the surface. The flies you will be using here include stoneflies, hoppers, mayfly patterns, Caddis, attracters of every kind, and streamers in some rare instances.
Warm River – The small village of Warm River, where Three Rivers Ranch is located was named after the river that winds through the area and stays a constant 50 degrees year round. Warm River is spring fed, making it a clear, excellent river to find trout. The river is a tributary to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and offers fisherman an excellent opportunity to catch good sized trout. A fish observation platform located in Warm River gives visitors an up close opportunity to see and feed many large trout. Stone Bridge access located one mile downstream from the observation platform is the launching point for fishermen to begin their float trip of the lower Henry’s Fork.
Robinson Creek is one of the ‘Three Rivers’ that runs through the Three Rivers Ranch property. Robinson Creek is a spring fed creek that begins in Yellowstone National Park. The creek is a stone’s throw away from the guest cabins, and also flows past the Three Rivers Ranch Fly Shop. It is a unique body of water, and while it’s possible to access the stream with little effort, it’s most productive reaches require some work to get to. Angler’s who enjoy wade fishing will revel in Robinson Creek’s beauty and possibilities. Three Rivers Ranch has a six mile stretch of private access upstream that our guest can take advantage of. Robinson Creek is a picturesque mountain stream, adorned with swift runs, good cover for fish, large boulders that slow the current and waste-deep plungepools that harbor hungry trout that always seem to be looking up.
Hebgen Lake is located about 20 minutes west of West Yellowstone and is created by the Hebgen Dam. It is well known for the 1959, 7.5 earthquake that took place nearby and created Earthquake ‘Quake’ Lake, which is located just downstream. Hebgen Lake is considered by some guides to be the finest dry fly lake in North America. Hebgen has a healthy population of browns, cutthroats and rainbows. Fly fishing can be productive whether you use wet or dry flies.
The Madison and South Fork arms are a favorite amongst fly fisherman. Both are on the eastern section of Hebgen where the Madison River feeds into it. The fish typically range between 14 to 18 inches with some into the 20 inch category.
The above video is from Derek DeYoung‘s Vimeo page (he is one of the best fish artists around!)
Beginning in Wyoming at the junction of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers, the Madison River flows through the most thermally active region in the United States; Yellowstone National Park. The Madison’s confluence with the Jefferson and Gallatin rivers near Three Forks, form the Missouri river. From its head, the Madison flows over 100 miles to its confluence.
Upon leaving the Park, the Madison gathers in Hebgen Lake and joins with the waters of Grayling Creek, Spring Creek, Cougar Creek, the South Fork of the Madison and several other small streams. Hebgen Lake contains trout that can weigh up to 12 pounds and can be fished from the shore or a boat. Even though the river downstream from the Hebgen spillway sees fishing pressure for twelve months of the year, this 2 mile stretch can produce quality trout in large numbers.
This small section of river gives way to a body of water, Earthquake Lake, better known as Quake Lake, which was created on August 17, 1959 by a catastrophic south-western Montana earthquake that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale. Quake Lake offers decent fly fishing for brown trout, which are stocked yearly, along with rainbow trout. The best fishing on Quake Lake occurs in late spring and early summer, and again later in the summer and fall.
The stretch below the landslide dam is called the ‘Wasteland’ or ‘Moonscape’ by local anglers because of the flood-water destroyed river banks. Many of the trout below the lake are large and voracious, giving them an advantage in the very rapid water. Downstream the flow is characterized by a shallow, broad, and rapid “fifty-mile riffle,” as it has so often been described.
The Gallatin River
The Gallatin River is a tributary of the Missouri River. It’s one of three rivers, along with the Jefferson and Madison rivers that converge near Three Forks, Montana to form the Missouri River. The river was named in 1805 by Meriwether Lewis. The western form was named for President Thomas Jefferson and the central fork for then Secretary of State James Madison.
The Gallatin offers excellent dry fly fishing on a river that receives relatively low fishing pressure in beautiful scenic surroundings. The fish are not finicky eaters either, which makes the Gallatin River an excellent place for learning how to fly fish.
Along its upper stretches, the river is not very deep allowing it to be fully waded from shore to shore. The trout on the river consist of brown, rainbow trout, and mountain white fish and average around 12 inches, with 16 inches considered a large trout – although some lunkers exceeding 20 inches are found. Grayling and cutthroat trout are also found in the Gallatin River. Parts of the Gallatin are designated Blue Ribbon while others are considered Red Ribbon. Portions of A River Runs Through It were filmed on the Gallatin River.
The Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River originates in Wyoming and flows through Yellowstone National Park before entering Montana at Gardiner. From the park boundary to Livingston, the river flows north through Paradise Valley, flanked by the Absarokee Mountains on the east and the Gallatin Range on the west. It continues in a northeasterly direction from Livingston and meets up with the Missouri River just across the North Dakota border.
The Yellowstone has survived as one of the last, large, free flowing rivers in the continental United States. It is still the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. From the clear, coldwater cutthroat trout fishery in Yellowstone National Park to the warmer water habitat at its mouth, the river supports a variety of aquatic environments that remain relatively undisturbed. The adjacent terrestrial environment, through most of the 550 Montana miles of river, is an impressive cottonwood-willow bottomland.
The river has also been a major factor in the settlement of southeastern Montana, and retains much cultural and historical significance. The Yellowstone River is considered one of the great trout fishing locations in the world.
The Firehole River
The Firehole River is one of two major tributaries of the Madison River. From its start at Madison Lake, on the Continental Divide, it flows approximately 21 miles to join the Gibbon River at the Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park. Because the stream appears to be smoking as if on fire, due to it flow through several significant geyser basins in Yellowstone Park, early trappers named it Firehole River. The Firehole is a magnificent trout stream. Perhaps one of the most unique experiences to fishing the Firehole is the opportunity to cast to wild trout while free roaming bison and elk graze alongside you.
The Buffalo River is a tributary of the Henry’s Fork and is located near Island Park, Idaho. The river is a relatively slow moving fishery that is easy to wade and perfect for the beginner or someone looking for any easy place to fish. Rainbow and brook trout are plentiful. At the junction of the Buffalo River and the Henry’s Fork, a very popular stretch begins known as Box Canyon.
Bitch Creek begins as two small creeks that flow out of the peaks of the Teton mountain range in Wyoming, and eventually meet near the Idaho/Wyoming border. Bitch Creek is a tributary of the Teton River, which is a tributary of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River.
The prime fishing waters of Bitch Creek is about a 15 miles stretch and access is difficult. However, it’s an ideal location for the fisherman who is looking for quiet, tranquil fishing, where the fish are virtually undisturbed and plentiful.
Located in Yellowstone National Park, the Gibbon River is fly fishing only and catch and release below Gibbon Falls. The Gibbon rises in the middle of the park at Grebe Lake and eventually flows to its confluence with the Firehole River that eventually forms the Madison River.
The Gibbon is very popular for trout fishing with plenty of brook, rainbow and grayling in the upper stretches and a healthy mix of brown and rainbow below the falls.
The Gardner River (also known as the Gardiner River) is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, is entirely located within Yellowstone National Park. The river rises in the northern part of the park and winds southeast until it reaches Gardner’s Hole and meets with other small tributaries.
Higher up the river the fish are quite small, however as the river makes its way through the Mammoth-Gardner area the fishing is plentiful and the fish are much larger.
The Fall River is the largest Henrys Fork tributary. The river was referred to as the Falls River by trappers and prospectors in the early 1800’s and was historically named the Falls River in 1872 by the Hayden Geological Survey. However, in 1997 the name was changed to Fall River at the request of Idaho authorities. The Fall River begins on the Madison and Pitchstone Plateau in the southwest corner of Yellowstone Park. From there, the river flows 64 miles to its confluence with the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River near Warm River, Idaho. The river is largely inaccessible by road.
Fall River has good fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout, and they get larger the higher upstream you go. The long hike and off-trail access minimize fishing pressure. However, there are many places to access the lower river.
Because of its easy access, the Cave Falls area sees the most fishing. The trout average 10 inches in this stretch and the action is good. These streams produce big trout although in the past few decades’ brook trout have reached these waters.