Payette SF at Lowman - The perfect place to teach fly fishing?

14 July 2006 By Dan Bachman • Fishing-Spots • Comments (5)

Payette SF at Lowman There is no dearth of fishing information on the well known rivers and lakes in Idaho. The web is full of stuff about the popular places. But lately I’ve spent time exploring and fishing waters that no one seems to talk about. The list includes the Payette below Black Canyon, Squaw Creek, the Weiser River, Upper Little Salmon and the Middle Fork of the Payette all with varied degrees of success.

On Saturday I left home with the intent of fishing Marsh Creek near Stanley. When I stopped in Lowman to get gas I realized that I had left my wallet at home in my rush to get the car packed. Without money or gas I wasn’t going to make it to Marsh Creek and decided to fish the South Fork of the Payette to try and make the most of the situation.

I have driven through Garden Valley and Lowman at least a half dozen times in the past year and I can say that I have never seen a single fisherman along the river-anywhere. Plenty of rafters and kayakers, but no fisherman. But what I discovered may be the single best place to take the beginning fly fisherman, in the state of Idaho, that I have ever seen.

Payette SF at Lowman Payette SF Rainbow

Just downstream from the bridge in Lowman that crosses the South Fork of the Payette, the river widens and along one side the channel braids and is not more than a foot deep in most places. For about 400 yards you can fish this nursery water before the side channels join the deeper main channel. Within this water small rainbows 4-10 inches long wait to jump on your fly. I fished a small hopper pattern and caught 60-70 fish on just the one fly in less than 2 hours. Aside from the eager fish, there are very few willows to interfer with the casting of the novice angler.

For somebody with a little more skill a stonefly nymph bounced along the bottom of deeper current in the main channel holds bigger trout. I took a 14 inch rainbow to finish the day.



  1. 15 July 2006 Jake Lowe

    I crossed this bridge many times while living in Idaho, and never thought to stop, as I, too, was heading to the Stanley area. Thanks for the tip because I just happen to know a young man of 13 yrs. who is wanting to learn to fly fish.

  2. 17 July 2006 Craig

    Dan – Thanks for the info I have always wondered where to fish the Payette. I figured there were fish in there but everyone has always told me it wasn’t worth a shot. They were wrong! Thanks for report!

  3. 31 July 2006 Curt Oxford

    I stopped by Horshoe Bend a couple of years ago and asked some Fish and Game officers if there was any fish in the Payette. They said no. Perhaps they wanted to keep people away. I am glad to hear there are fish there. It sure is a beautiful river. Thanks

  4. 1 August 2006 Dan Bachman

    Curt-Last August I floated the Payette Main from Banks to almost Horseshoe Bend. Along stretches of the river grasshoppers were landing in the water and they were being taken by fish along the banks. I couldn’t tell what kind of fish. For all I know they could have been bass. But there were fish in the river and they were feeding.

  5. 1 August 2006 Truco7mateo


    I doubt the smallmouth are up that far. Below the diversion downstream of HB I have hooked smallmouth. From horseshoe bend upstream, it has always been trout, whitefish and squawfish. Just not a lot of food in the water so that is why the fishing has never been something to talk about. Terrestrials always seem to be the best bet.
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