Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Here is the scoop. We will also be going on some shorter side trips this summer as well. They will be posted here. If you live in Montana, Idaho or Washington state, you may want to contact IdahoAngler@live.com for details. You'll meet some really great fellow fishers!
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Moyie River - What, where, when?.

Bussard Mountain Bridge
"Moyie River - What, where, when" was written by YellowStoneFly for the Idaho Fly Fishers blog. Fly fishing Idaho would not be complete without trying out the Moyie. Fly fishers are frequently asking me where it is located and how to get there. Well, if you google "Eastport, ID" in their maps section, the Moyie flows due south out of Canada right through Eastport. If you live within 500 miles you may want to drive to the river. A greater distance than that it would pay to fly; or you could go to Sandpoint, ID on the Amtrak and rent a car. You can fly into Spokane, WA or Kalispell, MT or Missoula, MT and be at the river within 3 1/2 - 4  hours. From Spokane you simply take I-90 east, turn north on US 95 at Coeur d'Alene, ID taking you into Eastport and the river. From Kalispell you take US 2 west to Bonners Ferry, ID and then north on US 95 until you hit the river (about 45 minutes). From Missoula take US 93 north to US 200 west to MT 56 north to US 2 into Bonners Ferry then US 95 north to your destination. 

South of Bussard Monutani Bridge
The Moyie River is open all year and the only special regulation is a two trout limit. Bull trout are illegal to harvest but most of the fish in the upper Moyie are brook trout which have a limit of 25 per day. Spring run off can be very unpredictable, the water can be fast and a raft is absolutely necessary this time of year. The remainder of the year, the flow is low and steady and very amenable to wade fishing. There are many places in the upper section to stop and wade so do bring your waders. The area below Meadow Creek, which comes in about half way down, are more difficult to get to and I would not suggest you try without 4 wheel drive. There is a great little wading area just above the whitewater raft takeout above the lake and dam. It is a little hard to find, but if you stop at the "Little Mall of America" as it is called (the general store and gas station on the west side of the big bridge which crosses the Moyie below the dam) and ask George Elliott, the proprietor, how to get to the river above the dam, he will tell you. I have caught some really nice 18+ inch cutties there. Another great wading area down low is at the Twin Rivers Canyon Resort. It is owned by the Kootenai Indians and is only a short (switch back) drive from the "Mall". Again, ask for directions at the store if you do not see the sign east of the bridge. There is a small day charge if you fish there.

Bussard Creek
In the spring, even though the water is unpredictable, the fish are ravenous and will pound large foam stonefly patterns. I would also bring large wooly buggers in olive and black and make 'em big. Some streamers can work as well like the Clouser Minnow. Flash is good here in the spring. You and a friend can easily bag 50 brookies here per day in the spring if in a raft. In the summer as the water warms, the fishing changes. Early summer try smaller (14-18) PMD's and Adams dry patterns along with hare's ear nymphs and San Juan worms (particularly after a good rain). Once July hits the large hoppers (6-10) come out and they extend until October some years. Once November arrives, the fishing slows and it's back to streamers and nymphs. 

Swimming Hole
ROW adventures says on their website: "The Moyie River, one of Idaho's best kept whitewater rafting secrets, is an adventure not to be missed. ROW pioneered these 11-15 mile rafting trips on the Moyie River in 1981, and every spring we delight in sharing this hidden whitewater rafting jewel with guests of all abilities." It is not only a great whitewater rafting secret, but it is a great fly fishing secret as well. I do not know of any outfitter, unless it is ROW, who will take you fishing in a raft here, but you could ask them. I do know though that this river may hold the eventually Idaho state record brook trout and I have personally seen some 10 pound rainbow hanging in a few deep holes in the summer when the water is low and clear. You know, there is a guy by the name of Dave Blackburn at Kootenai Angler who now has an Idaho guide license. He might take you and if he doesn't he may know the name of someone who might. Tell him Jack Childress from the Idaho Hope Peninsula referred you. If he won't go to the Moyie, I am sure he could provide a great trip on the Kootenai or Bull river.  

South facing on the Moyie
Idaho fly fishing is a bucket list item all fly fishers should experience. Come see our beautiful state and witness the glory of fly fishing Idaho. Good luck and email me any time with questions. We also appreciate all blog comments and we really, really like followers at blogspot. Enjoy!

PS-Spoke with a whitewater rafting friend. He said the Moyie should be 1800 cfs or less for the best fishing. You can find out the flow information by going to USGS WaterWatch and clicking on the Moyie River at Eastport, ID button.

The Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)

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  1. Thanks for writing this informative and very helpful. You have inspired me to try fishing the Moyie and Kootenai Rivers. I will be fishing from above the dam to below the Twin Rivers Canyon Resort. I will stop by the resort to pay for about a weeks worth of fishing. I will also try out the Meadow Springs Campground area. Contact me at davidbradford510@comcast.net. I will be trying two ultralight fly outfits. One is a 1 weight, the other is a 2 weight with 7x leaders. If I break off at the leader or if I am overpowered, I will move up to my 5 weight outfit. I am also going to try a couple of ultralight spinning outfits even though that is fly fishing sacrilege. I might even use worms. I never use weight, I just toss them in the current above a pool loose lined and let them follow the current naturally. Works great where I am from. If you would like to know how it goes, contact me at davidbradford510@comcast.net.

  2. David Bradford August 9, 2017 at 11:19 PM - Moyie River - What, where, when?.
    Idaho Angler

    Today, 9:54 AM
    So sorry for the time delay, but simply just flat did not see your post until yesterday. Hope your trip went well, but waters are at historic lows this year due to drought and may have adversely effect your trip. Let me know how it went so I can let readers know.

    If you ever again need immediate assistance please email me directly at IdahoAngler@live.com.