The North American continent is brimming with rivers of all sizes, from small and gentle to big and bold. The Snake River is one of the longest rivers in the country, spanning well over 1,000 miles. It rushes through our beloved Hells Canyon and is home to a wide variety of fish and other aquatic creatures. Every year, fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels flock to Hells Canyon for world-class fishing.

If you live on a coast and are accustomed to sea fishing, or if you normally angle in small lakes, river fishing can be an exciting new experience. Learn everything you need to know about river fishing right here with River Adventures, and start planning your trip today.

A Beginner-Friendly Adventure

A river is a great place for novice fishing enthusiasts to cast their first line. It’s a diverse environment with natural variances in water depth, temperature, and speed. The Snake River, in particular, has plenty of coves to set up your gear and spend the day.

You don’t need a fancy fishing rod with bells and whistles in order to fish on a river. Keep it simple and straightforward—a multipurpose fishing rod and a reel with a strong fluorocarbon line will serve you well. High-quality fishing equipment will serve you well over a long angling career, and a river is the perfect place to practice.

When To Fish

When is the best time to fish on a river?

Calendar-wise, the Snake River is open all year long, and there are always fish to catch. If you like winter fishing and are up for a more brisk adventure, consider the nearby Salmon River just outside Hells Canyon for some top-tier steelhead fishing.

If you’re wondering about the best times of day to fish on a river, think like a fish and consider the sun. Many river fish avoid direct sunlight, and the hot rays of the midday sun tend to heat shallow waters quickly. The best times of day for river fishing are early mornings and evenings, when the sun is out but not too harsh.

Start your day with some Hells Canyon fishing in the early morning. When the sun beats down in the afternoon, have a picnic in the shade or do another activity that keeps you cool. As the sun sets, feel free to pick up your rod and tackle box for another round of fishing.

Getting Started

Whether you’re new to fishing as a sport or are simply new to the Hells Canyon area, make sure you’ve got these essentials before casting your first line:

A Fishing License

Visit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s website ( for more information about obtaining a license if you haven’t already got one. Everyone ages 14 and older must have one to fish.

A Sturdy Rod and Reel

A medium-sized multipurpose rod and a reel of fluorocarbon line will do you well for catching most fish.

Live Bait and Tackle

The fish in the Snake River respond well to both live bait and artificial lures.

Adequate Clothing

Many folks who fish on the Snake River wear waterproof clothing, non-slip shoes, a brimmed hat, and a jacket or vest with plenty of pockets. Some wear long sleeves and pants for extra sun protection; if you opt for short sleeves, apply and reapply sunscreen regularly.

A First-Aid Kit

A well-stocked tackle box or fishing vest always has a sharp bait knife and spare hooks. A well-prepared fishing enthusiast always knows proper first aid for any situation.

A Fully-Charged Cell Phone

You must be prepared to call for help in an emergency. Preferably, your cell phone has a functioning camera, so when you catch a few fish that need to be released, be ready to take plenty of pictures!

What Are You Fishing For?

You’ve probably learned by now that the Snake River is a rich and biodiverse area brimming with self-sustaining ecosystems. From salmon to sturgeon, crappie to catfish, this river is full of fish to catch! Let’s take a closer look at a few of the fish you’re most likely to catch when you visit Hells Canyon.


The Snake River is home to both largemouth and smallmouth bass. They’re not tricky fish to catch—they love live bait and brightly colored lures. Plus, you can take home plenty of them to eat after your trip!


While they do need to be released upon catching, sturgeon in the Snake River are a prized game fish and a beauty to behold.

Rainbow Trout

Post up by the Oxbow Reservoir and let these beautiful fish come to you! Rainbow trout are just as plentiful as bass along the Snake River. Make sure your tackle box is stocked with colorful spinners to lure them in.


Both the flathead and channel varieties of catfish are right at home in the deeper waters of the Snake River. Practice fishing with live bait and attach a shrimp to your hook; they’re a catfish’s favorite!


Plan your fishing trip for the late spring or early summer and hit the Salmon River just near Hells Canyon. You’re bound to catch a few chinook salmon as they return to breed.

An Ideal Vacation

Fishing the beautiful rivers in and around Hells Canyon can be the trip of a lifetime. Share your love of the sport with your kids and teach them how to fish here! River fishing is just as relaxing as it is invigorating, and you’ll find a lot of diversity in the Snake River.

What do you need to know about river fishing before you hit the water? You’ll need to know what’s in the river and what you’re fishing for so that you can pack your tackle box accordingly. You’ll need adequate gear to stay safe and protected on the water. Most of all, it’s important to appreciate just how much the river has to offer you. The experience of fishing in a bustling natural environment like the Snake or Salmon River is unparalleled. Let River Adventures’s seasoned experts point you to the best spots by contacting us today.

All About River Fishing: What You Need To Know