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 Palisades Reservoir which borders Wyoming and Idaho. Below Palisades Dam begins the stretch of the river, referred to as the “South Fork”.
This 66 mile stretch of the Snake River flows through high mountain valleys, steep rugged canyons, and through fertile farmland to the confluence with the Henrys Fork (North Fork) of the Snake River near Menan. The South Fork of the Snake River is home to 126 species of birds, including 21 species of raptors. You have a chance to see a very diverse array of wildlife as well including moose, bear, elk, deer, mountain lions, mountain goats, bobcats, coyotes, otters, beavers, mink, and fox. To add the Snake River is home to the largest riparian cottonwood forest in the west, and understandably, the most diverse ecosystem in Idaho.
The South Fork of the Snake also boasts 4200 fish per mile (2017 at Conant), 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 August (on a typical runoff year). The first half of July is the height of the prolific stonefly 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 Upper Section
This is where the Legendary Blue Ribbon South Fork of the Snake River begins. The river boasts 5177 fish per mile, the second highest number since the mid 1980’s!
River Mile: 0.0
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom, picnic, camp, dump station
Palisades Creek is part of the “Upper” Section of the South Fork of the Snake River. It’s nicknamed and referred to by “Husky” because it’s just across the street from the Husky gas station. Palisades Creek is a decent creek to fish, and close to the popular hiking trail to the Lower Palisades Lake (4 Miles) and the Upper Palisades Lake (6.2 Miles).
River Mile: 2.2
Facilities: Concrete ramp, dock, camping, restroom
Irwin boat launch is a primitive boat launch. You’ll either have to slide your boat down or maneuver it down between cottonwood trees. Make sure you have four-wheel drive, just in case. With all that being said, it does make a nice jump-off point between Palisades Dam and Spring Creek.
River Mile: 7.1 (approximate)
Facilities: Dirt / Makeshift Ramp
The Spring Creek Section is commonly used to begin the two-day, one-night camp trip through the majestic Canyon Section of the South Fork of the Snake River. This is also part of the “Upper Sections” of the River.
River Mile: 12.2
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom
The Canyon Section
Conant Boat Access is the last boat ramp before the “Canyon” Section of the South Fork of the Snake River. This has very nice plummed in bathrooms, two-lane boat launch, a fly shop nearby, and a massive parking area. This is the ramp is commonly used to start your day on our Overnight Camp trip.
River Mile: 14.2
Facilites: Concrete ramp, restroom, picnic, visitor center
This is our designated Overnight Camp exclusive to our guests. Stay the night in our large canvas tents with floors, warm sleeping bags, New York steak dinner, and an open bar. An angler’s paradise!
The Fulmer Boat Access is typically called “Cottonwood” by TRR Guides. This is a fairly nice camp-site and boat ramp, however, the drive out is a killer. You can take the river road or the mountain road (near Kelly Canyon Ski Area). It is the next closest boat ramp to our Overnight Camp.
River Mile: 28
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom
To call this a boat launch is a big stretch, however, it can be used. It is hard to see and hard to use. So if you’ve never used it, pass. You can easily float on by. Once you get to Cottonwood, be on the lookout and stay right! It’s just after the big left bend and upstream from table rock.
River Mile: 31.0 (approximately)
Facilities: Bank Launch, Primitive Boat Launch
This boat ramp is a basic unimproved boat ramp. Parking is limited right at the boat launch, however, there is a gravel parking lot just upstream a few hundred yards. It is typically used by Three Rivers Ranch Guides to take out after the “Canyon Section” of the South Fork Overnight Camp trip. The float is approximately 23 miles from Spring Creek Boat Access to Wolf Flat Boat Access. The two-day trip is split up by wade fishing.
River Mile: 35.1
Facilities: Primitive dirt ramp, bank launch, No-fee site
The Middle Section
The official end of the “Canyon Section” of the South Fork of the Snake and the beginning of the “Lower Section” of the river. The Byington Boat ramp is a full feature boat access, with all the amenities. You’ll approach a nasty “S” in the river just upstream from Byington, it’s nicknamed “Devils Kitchen.” It’s a series of dangerous hydraulics. Just after that, there is an irrigation channel and some boulders. Be careful there as well. There are 39 miles of river between the Byington Boat Access to the Palisades Dam.
River Mile: 39
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom, picnic, dump station
A fun and exciting float between Heise and Twin Bridges. The river can change dramatically from year to year. So stick to the main channel. Many smaller channels can have fallen cottonwood trees. If you have never been down a channel you can’t see the end of, don’t take it.
River Mile: 41.8
Facilities: Concrete ramp, bank launch
Just off the Archer Highway between Rire & Rexburg. This is where The Snake lives up to its name, you’ll have to be very cautious and on top of oars.
River Mile: 46.2
Facilites: Camp, Concrete ramp, restroom, & picnic.
- Once leaving the Twin Bridges Boat Ramp, you’re in a smaller channel. The main channel will be hauling, so be prepared to stay high (blue line) and row like a banshee!
The Lower Section
The New Lorenzo Boat Access is 53.7 river miles away from the Palisades Dam. The new Lorenzo Boat Ramp is off Highway 20, take Exit 325 (Menan Exit). As you pass the railroad bridge and the highway 20 bridge, the new takeout is roughly 3/4 miles downriver from the old boat ramp on the left side of the river.
Start here to fish the “Lower Section” of the South Fork of the Snake River on to Menan.
River Mile: 53.7
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom, some shade, trash cans, and no water.
- Here is the location of the new Lorenzo boat ramp.
The final stop of where Three Rivers Ranch takes our clients on the South Fork of the Snake River. The Menan Boat Ramp is approximately 62 river miles away from the Palisades Dam. Need an idea of what to use on the South Fork of the Snake River? Take a look at our Snake River hatch chart.
River Mile: 62.2
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom
Mike Walter Boat Access is a quiet & really nice boat access.
River Mile: 77.6
Facilities: Concrete ramp, restroom, camp, picnic, paved parking lot, & wheelchair accessible dock.