Grand Slam on Marsh Creek

27 August 2006 By Dan Bachman • Fishing-Spots • Comments (5)

Marsh Creek Several weeks agos I camped at Marsh Creek, one of two tributaries that forms the Middle Fork of the Salmon at Cape Horn in the Stanley basin. Arriving just before dusk I was amazed at the number of vehicles parked in the turn around beyond the campground. It seems that this place is pretty popular this time of year.

At first light I was up and throwing on my waders in the 40 degree air with a good selection of cream colored caddis patterns stuffed in my fly box. If one of last year’s trip to the Middle Fork of the Salmon was any indicator, aquatic moths should be out in force on Marsh Creek as well. With the sun just touching the peaks of mountains I headed for a run that I had scoped out the night before. Cream and tan moths were already on the water and as the shadows shortened the water came alive. Trout were taking every moth that drifted near.

Marsh Creek Westslope Cutthroat Splaying the elk hair to each side of the body on a number 10 caddis to look more like the outstretched wings of the moths made for a deadly presentation when drifted through the run. Westslope cutthroat rolled eagerly on my fly, nearly a dozen in less than an hour.

After exhausting the run, I moved downstream to a large rock where a single large trout could be seen rising sporadically tight against the rock. My first couple casts down and across were not even sniffed at as the currents drug against the fly unnaturally. Regardless of how many mends or esses were put in the line the current got the best of my presentation. It took moving to the bank across from the rock to find a better casting angle to properly present the fly. A nip at the fly followed by a quick set hooked a large brookie in the upper lip. The fish didn’t come easily, pulling line while running downstream from the safety of the rock.

Marsh Creek Marsh Creek Brookie Marsh Creek Rainbow

The suprise of the morning came when I moved back to the earlier run and brought a nice size rainbow to hand. The rainbows in the Middle Fork of the Salmon (and I believe the tributaries of the MF) are all wild steelhead. I have caught a considerable number of the steelhead smolts all less than 8 or 9 inches but this one was different. Easily 13 or 14 inches and without parr marks this one was an adult. Possibly a steelhead that decided to stay put or a very small steelhead jack but a very pretty fish nonetheless.

As the heat of the day set in and the moths disappeared so too did the rise of the trout. As I headed back to camp an angler passed me on the way down to the river. Is the fishing any good? Yes. It was.

Released Trout



  1. 29 August 2006 Dennis @ Fish on Yukon

    Incredible photos once again Dan. I love the concept of the grand slam. It adds more suspense, surprise and guesswork before that fish eventually rises. In my native Yukon waters, there is a little lake where one can fish grayling, lake trout and rainbow. I find that 9 times out of 10 the play in the fish tends to give it away too early. Grayling tug and tug, lake trout dive and stay, and rainbow do aerials….all great none the less.

  2. 2 September 2006 mark Tralyor

    great great site, thanks for all the info. where is marsh creek in relation to stanley? how do i get there?

  3. 2 September 2006 Dan Bachman

    The campground is about 17 miles NW of Stanley on Highway 21. I believe that access to the campground is currently closed due to the forest fires.

  4. 7 September 2006 Derek

    I recently made a trip to Beaver Creek of the middle fork just above its confluence with marsh creek. From your report (great by the way) Marsh Creek sounds like its productivity is close to that of Beaver Creek. I found populations of westlope cutts, rainbows, and was fortunate enough to fool a nice brookie myself. Your report has motivated me even more into making a revisit next season. Fantastic article Dan!

  5. 7 September 2006 Dan Bachman

    Derek-I may make one more trip this season up there and I think I’ll check out Beaver Creek while I’m at it.

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