Idaho Family Adventure


If you’ve been reading my content for a little while, you’re aware of my mission to fish all 50 states before turning 50.  I got one step closer to accomplishing that mission this past week.  Nate and I took our families to Idaho to do a little exploring, get some R&R, and wet a line.

The scenery was incredible, the fishing was great (it’s late summer – not the optimal time to visit that part of the country – more on that in a bit), and the time spent with our families was unforgettable.  However, the most important part of this trip was that it was the first time Nate and his family embarked on an angling adventure.  There were a lot of “firsts” for them – it was the first time his kids flew, it was the first time his son reeled in a huge fish, it was the first time they set foot in Idaho, or any state in the Rockies for that matter.  It was awesome watching them absorb all of it – I’m very happy my family and I were there to share in the experience.

When planning this trip, I had to consider all the “firsts” I mentioned above.  Our goal was to see as much of the state as possible and catch fish along the way.  If it were just Nate and I, we would’ve come up with a regimented daily plan that entailed covering a ton of ground, camping nightly, and running ourselves ragged in pursuit of native fish.  However, we were accompanied by Nate’s 3- and 7-year-old boys, my 10-year-old daughter, and our wives – going hard wasn’t desirable.  Nor would it have been feasible to have a strict regimen – flexibility was key.  So, we opted to pick a few base camps where we would stay for a minimum of a couple days and just wing it for the daily plan.  We had about a week to work with, which gave us more than enough time to accomplish our goal.  Here’s what we came up with…


Day 1 – Saturday, 28-Aug-2021 – Getting There

We flew from Buffalo, NY to Boise, ID – departing at a reasonable hour and arriving with enough time to check into our hotel, grab dinner at a local brewery, and get 8+hours of sleep before making the push into the mountains.  BTW – Boise, ID is an awesome city.  Lots to do, clean, very little traffic, and great weather.

Day 2 – Sunday, 29-Aug-2021: Drive to Stanley, ID and check in to Mountain Village Resort

The drive was beautiful.  Although there are/were many fires in the surrounding region, the wind was minimal, so we were able to see far into the distance across the Sawtooth Mountains.  Mountain Village Resort was a sweet little spot – a few restaurants and bars within walking distance, incredible views of the Sawtooth Range, and the Salmon River runs less than a quarter mile away.  After checking in, we grabbed lunch at the restaurant attached to the lodge and then did some preliminary exploration.
55557ADB 3188 41B5 8DB0 EA340F532F3A scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 45167E24 1EA5 4A21 8E1E 587C96A0D913 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 3BA7B966 30F6 417D A874 230A579C1A9C scaled - Idaho Family Adventure
After spending some time accessing the possibilities of “things to do” in the area over a few Stanley mules, we grabbed dinner at Redfish Lake Lodge (awesome food).  While we were waiting for our food, Nate, Janice, and the kids took a quick walk to the docks close by and saw that we could rent pontoon boats.  The guy working the rental counter said it was first-come-first served and that they opened at 7:00AM.  The following day was starting to take shape.

Day 3 – Monday, 30-Aug-2021: Fish and Explore the Stanley, ID Area

Nate and I got up early to reserve our pontoon boat for the afternoon.  The guy working the rental counter was from Elmira, NY – small world!  Furthermore, he fished the Lower Niagara last fall and recognized me/my boat.  What luck that we met a fellow angler/fellow New Yorker!  He was generous enough to give us some intel on the Salmon River so after booking the pontoon, Nate and I set out to chalk Idaho…mission accomplished.
1F709F47 757F 456E 8E95 7AE656CDD8EA scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 309E240C F5BB 477A 817E 5698310A7C53 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure
Later that day, we rejoined our families and embarked on a pontoon boat tour of Redfish Lake.  The smoke from the surrounding wildfires was kinda thick – but not prohibitively so.  Spending time on some big water as a little tribe was a blast.
E953292C 8CB5 4FFA B615 5D4D62B16612 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 3501C719 61B5 4EFB B43C 6528062BBC37 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure DB7B1502 869A 4A3E AFD9 01C91DE7F630 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 275AB75B D874 4379 B76D 6D175481A32C scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 0331E8FA DC8F 442B AB94 EE312D121CB7 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

8254F5FD 58CB 41B7 B724 9B682273E5B7 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 97C93C6E 51F3 4336 9622 CBFE18578706 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

Day 4 – Tuesday, 31-Aug-2021: Fish Stanley, ID Area

After exploring the Salmon River for a while the day prior, Nate and I had found some spots where we were confident that we could get his son Colton on some fish – so that’s what we set out to do.  “Grasshoppers hopping,” became the phrase of the day…and the rest of the trip.  Fish were caught.
C79AC527 55C9 484D B794 EC233BD18163 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 7786390F A9C4 4A95 92E6 558FB5BE2C60 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure AFFE8A8D 705D 4244 9C87 A91D9A6F9819 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

Day 5 – Wednesday, 1-Sep-2021: Fish Stanley, ID then Drive to Island Park, ID

Nate and I went out early for a couple hours and picked up a couple more king salmon and rainbow trout.  Then, we rejoined our families and made the drive to Eagle Ridge Ranch in Island Park, ID.  The drive was a long one, but we made a stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument to make it a little more interesting.
6E12515E 5FFC 4D58 9724 17AF46B5EDBA scaled - Idaho Family Adventure
F4F4EC1F 51FC 468B AEC2 1CF3E72321D2 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 8E158DAF 6BB0 4889 9B8E C40FBFC31CC1 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure F0A1D8D4 090D 470A BC7A 2C4AA94B68D6 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 7FD6C2B4 275C 4E7C 957F 3382D7C8CE3E scaled - Idaho Family Adventure E46459C7 6BEA 405E 9069 B6A98ED76473 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 9F07660A 82FD 4800 B59C 7802587AC6A5 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

Day 6 – Thursday, 2-Sep-2021: Fish Island Park, ID Area

My only request in developing this itinerary was that Nate and I spend a couple days on a drift boat getting in some bro time.  I booked 2 days of guided fly fishing with Henry’s Fork Anglers.  The first day, we floated the South Fork of the Snake River.  What a gorgeous place!  Huge river, big wind, big flows, a little BWO action early, some hopper action a little later, then some streamer action after that.

We didn’t hammer fish – but caught at an entertaining rate.  As I mentioned in the introduction – late summer isn’t prime time for that area (pre-runoff in early June is reportedly the best).  However, it’s a rich enough ecosystem/fishery such that one can make a great day of fishing any time of year.
96738C4A D93B 4373 BC5E AF4E9CEA832F scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 7E697653 3A6D 4478 9A7F 1E1A45F9B926 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure E9C86116 F813 4184 85C6 0A0238EB2AC9 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 97C1BA8A DBA7 4F85 9112 455CD8F740E1 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 5EA3A997 2B86 4B93 9C40 4EBD477ABDF0 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 197DE06E 2A2D 4792 A47B A897A2A54055 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 5BA26967 945A 4DD8 A32F F7A1B24AA987 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure
While we fished, our families entertained themselves at the ranch feeding the horses, swimming in the ponds, and playing on the playgrounds. From the sound of it, they had as much fun as Nate and I did.

8F2F16A6 0BBC 4E62 B530 256E4568F5F9 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 2351F3DF C271 4303 B435 005AC7294A3C scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 161418DB 6DA0 4324 A81F FB235AF2E516 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

Day 7 – Friday, 3-Sep-2021: Fish Island Park, ID Area then Drive to Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch, Grand Teton National Park

Nate and I spent the bulk of the second day floating the Teton River – another captivating place.  Small river, pocket water and plunge pools, consistent hopper action, good numbers of cutthroat trout.

Again, we didn’t hammer fish, but our catch rates were entertaining enough.  Our guide, Sam Miller was a blast to hang out with.  Born and raised in the Midwest (Columbus, OH) we got along famously, and the conversation never ceased.  The day flew by.
C934BC81 A40D 4B98 9183 0100287554A0 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure
While Nate and I fished, our wives drove from Island Park, ID to Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch via West Yellowstone. I’ve been to Yellowstone a few times so I knew their drive would be interesting. They got a healthy dose of the park along the way.

CFB6F6DF B3F2 4CB3 BEF4 152F4217A62E scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 6EC5DFF8 EEB3 4ACE A0B7 3CC5D98FAC6F scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 62B7DE42 C3B2 4AF6 8F91 77E6685687C2 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure FE16A9F2 B08C 4AFF 9F20 A728006EEF92 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

Day 8 – Saturday, 4-Sep-2021: Explore Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park

I can’t say enough about the beauty of these places, so I’ll just let the pictures tell the story. We barely scratched the surface since we only had a day to explore. We kept it simple and stopped at pullouts along the way and did some small hikes.

76405677 832F 4047 959D 0C6E01E5CD09 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 97706CB9 F05A 49BF B6FB 4B22F519E9B8 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure B107B52C 678E 4876 A644 6DB23B16ECD3 scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 40EC8DFC 232A 4178 A8DB 4D1934FC060E scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 5C197041 9C86 4395 A64A 68767CA44CEA scaled - Idaho Family Adventure E046EEAE B055 4D59 8EF1 E2374AA0D63F scaled - Idaho Family Adventure 3545F6DE D850 4A60 92F9 249B5AB2ABAE scaled - Idaho Family Adventure

Day 9 – Sunday, 5-Sep-2021: Travel Home via Bozeman, MT

Our return flight departed early afternoon and it was a 3.5 hour drive from the Ranch so we got up early and hit the road. It was a great way to end the trip – a scenic drive through Yellowstone and the Gallatin Mountain Range.


This write up is at over 1300 words so far so thank you if you hung in there – I’ll wrap this up quickly. The pace was near perfect, the accommodations were excellent, the families held together strong, beautiful sites were seen, fish were caught – what else can I say? I’m ready to do it again…there are plenty more places on the bucket list. “Grasshoppers hopping!”