Buried deep in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho is one of the state’s best hidden gems, the town of Stanley. This tiny mountain community is home to only about 60 full-time residents, but during the spring, summer and fall, it attracts throngs of visitors with some of the best water sports around. River rafting, boating, water skiing, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, canoeing and especially fishing—Stanley has it all for water lovers!
Camping was on our summer bucket list this year. Confession: our kids have never been camping! When we heard about Stanley, we knew this would be the perfect place for us. It offers everything we love: mountains, nature, hiking, rivers, lakes and fishing!
Stanley is home to incredible fishing, offering rainbow trout, west slope cutthroat, brook, bull trout, mountain whitefish, and chinook salmon in its waters. The Salmon River is the location of the longest salmon run in North America, over 900 miles, and fishermen flock here in the spring! Now you know why it’s called the Salmon River!
We spent several days camping in Stanley, right on the lake. We had a chance to go rafting down the Salmon River, kayaking and fishing the mirror-like waters of Stanley Lake, plus fly fishing in the Salmon River. We used Take Me Fishing’s “Where to Fish and Boat” interactive map to locate the best places to fish in Stanley, plus a fly fishing shop and a fishing guide.
We’ve always been firm believers in experiences over things. Since we were camping during Paul’s birthday, and because he always wanted to learn to fly fish, we found a guide to take him out and give him a lesson.
I’ll let Paul tell you about his fly fishing experience:
The fly fishing guide, Troy with Sawtooth Adventure Co., was highly knowledgeable—not only about fly fishing techniques and locations, but also about local fish species. We drift-boated down the Salmon River, and I enjoyed learning about the local history of Stanley, fish identification, insect lifecycles and how they impact fish feeding habits and so much more. It was a relaxing, educational and thoroughly enjoyable fishing excursion that I would recommend to anyone. Additionally, as someone who is new to fly fishing, I appreciated how Troy spent time to teach me the techniques and helped me improve throughout the day. I am now a fly fisherman for life.
After rafting with The River Company, they kindly lent us a ducky (a blow-up kayak) for a few days so we could let the kids paddle and fish on Stanley Lake. They took one rod out while the other paddled. They only caught sticks, but it was great practice for them and we loved watching them fish independently. They even ASKED to get up early to go fishing! How amazing is that?
Even this little guy got into the fishing spirit! He loves to do anything that his big brother and daddy are doing! Our time in Stanley was perfect for first-time campers like us. It felt so good to be in nature and reconnect with what really matters! We all need to do this more often!
What has been your favorite place to reconnect with nature? We’d love to know your favorite places to camp, boat, hike or fish! Visit our site to learn how to fish and plan your next fishing adventure.