Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Village At North Fork Steelhead Report


The Village At North Fork could easily be called “The Grand Central Station of Steelhead Fishing” on The Upper Salmon River between Corn Creek and Salmon, Idaho. Hardly any steelhead fisherman can pass up a chance to stop at the North Fork Store to pick up some steelhead gear, swap a fish tale, refuel and resupply.

As the Year 2013 Steelhead Season gains momentum, we're very pleased to begin to publish regular fishing reports and insights from the Staff of The Village At North Fork.

Our first Village At North Fork steelhead report is provided by Tam Ambrose.

Tam told us today that “fishing below Deadwater and in the lower canyon has been slow but fishermen between North Fork and Salmon have been doing better.”

Commenting on the river ice situation, Tam observed, “There is more shore ice than we usually have at this time of year, but the river is open (and floatable) down to Fourth of July access. The ice jam is about a mile upriver from here, but because of the shore ice, IDFG thinks it will be some time before they can open additional ramps. That said, it has changed a lot in a week (they only opened the Island Park boat ramp in Salmon a week ago) and it's supposed to be sunny and in the 50’s on Saturday. Things could change quickly.”
Stan Sweeney enjoy "spring" fishing. Photo by Brian Martinez 

When asked about drift boat traffic on the river, Tam said, “I just drove to Tower Rock today to do a shuttle and saw two or three boats on the river between 4th of July and Tower.”

“Although there were not too many boats today, when I shuttled on the weekend, there were quite a bit more,” Tam said, noting, “In fact, one person commented that he couldn’t put in because there wasn’t a parking spot. That doesn’t usually happen, but with limited access, piles of snow and steelheaders ready to catch fish, it can get a little crowded in spots. In our stretch, the busiest one has been Tower, but when they’re all open, people are pretty spread out with no clear favorite.”

The Village At North Fork provides fishing boat shuttles from Carmen to Spring Creek for a variable fee depending on distance. “Customers can arrange the shuttle in the general store. Our lodge guests get a discount on the rate,” Tam said.

“As for the bank fishermen, they tend to be where the highway pull-offs are and I imagine that’s primarily because of the shelf ice--it would be hard to access the river in other areas,” Tam observed.

Fishing pressure on weekdays has been typically slower that weekends, of course, there's been a few more fishermen each day, according to Tam. “Sunny days are quite a bit busier,” she said.

Most of the weekday fishermen are from Lemhi County (those 2L plates). Locals are prevalent on the weekends but but there's an addition of weekend fishermen from both Montana and the Idaho Falls/Pocatello area.

“As I look at last weekend’s guests, it was pretty evenly split between Idaho and Montana with a group also from Utah,” Tam noted.

The Village At North Fork's CafĂ© isn't open during steelhead season and won't open until May 24th. “Our room rates include a sit-down dinner prepared by our chef and served to our lodge guests each evening in the dining room as well as a continental breakfast each morning, so the dining room is getting used,” Tam said.  No restaurants are open in the North Fork area until at least Mother's Day weekend.

The Village At North Fork's seven-unit motel has been booked on weekends. “Guests are waiting to see how the weather is going to be and booking relatively late,” Tam said, “For example, we still have three rooms open on Friday and Saturday for this coming weekend. But, I am sure they’ll fill up. Our rooms are very nice and for $70 including dinner and breakfast for two people they’re a great value. Most of our business is returning business and we love that.”
The Village At North Fork now carries an expanded and more accessible supply of steelhead gear and fishing tackle. “We’ve remodeled the fishing supply area in the store since last summer and relocated the fishing tackle for easier access,” Tam said, “We have a good selection of steelhead tackle as well as steelhead flies and bait. With the remodel, we will be able to add additional stock…and have made it easier to see and access,” she added.

We appreciate the steelhead fishing information provided by The Village At North Fork and look forward to their next report. Thanks, Tam!

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