by Sherill Helfrich

It’s not often that Kenny and I get to enjoy time on our own, floating and fishing, but as I look back, there is one trip that was our absolute favorite.  It happened in mid-September of 2014. Kenny had a few days off and he thought we should do a fun trip on our own from Boundary Creek to Indian on the upper Middle Fork of the Salmon.  We picked up a cancellation permit and headed to Boundary Creek.  En route we picked up our friends Spence and Evelyn Strand to ride up and bring our rig back to Challis, where we would fly out to at the end of the trip. 

The river was low but with a light boat, we knew it would be fine. We were loaded and pushed off on our impromptu adventure. It was a thrill to experience the beauty of the river canyon with the fall colors of red and gold.  The fly fishing was incredible, catching fish after fish in the fast pockets as we passed by.  We spent 4 nights on the river only covering 5-7 miles each day.  We saw very few other people and had the best time seeing the upper Middle Fork in the fall.

This section of river drops about 40 feet per mile and the cool, crystal clear water makes for a beautiful ride as you work your way through the river canyon.  This high elevation stream experiences harsh winters and the icy river cleans and polishes the rocks each year.  With little to no moss or slime on the rocks and the clear water, you can easily see the multitude of colors along the bottom of the river, adding a breathtaking element to the whole float. 

On our trip, we talked about how fun it would be for our clients to enjoy the same wonderful experience so the following year we began offering these unique trips to our guests. While I had mixed feelings about sharing the secret of this special time of year on the river, but it is just too good of an experience to keep to ourselves. 

On these trips, we take one guest in each boat and a maximum of eight guests per trip, allowing us to keep the trip quaint and relaxing.  Our light boats leapfrog each other down the river as we pocket fish this untouched water of the upper river.  Due to the permit system on the Middle Fork and the need for commercial groups to run their boats empty on the upper end once the water levels drop in the summer, the fish in the upper river are mostly untouched from mid July through the end of the season.  This has ultimately resulted in the fish being quite “uneducated” to anglers and more than willing to take a fly.  

In addition to the fishing, scenery, isolation and uniqueness of this trip, I must also mention the hot springs. An added treat to each day of this float, there are spectacular hot springs to experience and very few people around to have to share them with.

To anyone giving a thought to a fall Middle Fork trip all I can say is GO!  You will have the experience of a lifetime. 

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