Category Archives: Idaho

Killgore Adventures Fishing Trips – The Video

By Jack High

Well . . . we got it done! And just in time for the 2014 fishing season.

The “we” is me and my staff at Go Northwest!. The “it” is the fishing video for Killgore Adventures. You can watch it on now on YouTube (be sure to catch the outtakes at the end):

Here are a few things you might want to know.

Killgore Adventures is a jet boat tour and fishing business out of White Bird, Idaho. The company and its guides operate on the Snake and Salmon Rivers which parallel one another for a number of miles and offer great fishing and great scenery in North Central Idaho.

Both rivers run free in rough and rugged deep canyons offering magnificent scenery, exciting rapids and plenty of wildlife including bear, deer, big horn rams and bald eagles. A great portion of the Snake River in particular runs through the heart of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

On many outings one might catch different species of fish on the same day on one or both of the two magnificent rivers. I made two trips with the outfitter, once in October and once in January to shoot still and video images for their project.

In October, we used two boats. One, the American Eagle, skippered by Homer Brown, chief fishing guide. The second, the Horn Star was skippered by Kurt Killgore, who usually is driving either the Horn Star or the Happy Hour on Jet Boat Tours. But on this day Kurt turned to fishing since the outfitter had booked several clients and decided to run two boats. Happy Hour is a 36-passenger boat primarily used for tours and for transporting rafters and their gear.

The first day out we headed up the Snake River in Hells Canyon aboard the fast Horn Star from Pittsburg Landing, to fish the wild river section for white sturgeon, rainbow trout, and bass.

Kurt Killgore

Kurt Killgore

Our trip ran through Class 3, 4, and 5 whitewater rapids on our way to and from the fishing holes, and as Kurt says, “Everybody gets a heck of a boat ride out of it, and makes for a big adventure for everyone in the boat.”

The second day I rode with Homer Brown and we ran some 30 miles north of Pittsburg Landing to where the Salmon pours into the Snake. Kurt explains, “We start off fishing down at the confluence of the Snake and Salmon rivers because that’s where the most fish are. But once we get that big dose of fish that come up the Salmon River, we’ll be fishing right out of our motel and campground, so our trips are launching just 100 yards away from where you’ll stay, which makes it really convenient for our customers.

And, indeed, I interviewed one of their clients who fished right off their beach on the Salmon and reported that he had caught several salmon from that spot during the past couple of days.

Kurt points out that “One of the big perks for our clients is they can stay right at our place on the Salmon River.” Clients can tent camp, or stay in their RV Park, or take one of their motel units, all of which are no more than an easy walk from the beach.

Homer Brown

Homer Brown,

Homer, like Kurt, also notes that “When you come on a fishing trip with Killgore Adventures, it’s not just a fishing trip. We’re going to see a lot of wildlife, we’re going to get to catch some nice fish, and it’s a great way to spend a day with your family.”

Their fishing trips generally start at 8’o’clock in the morning and finish around 5’o’clock in the afternoon. “We have lunch for you on the boat, we have drinks on the boat, and it makes a really nice day”, says Homer. “We make sure you have everything you need. We have all the gear, all the tackle, everything you need to go fishing. If you want to bring your gear, you can. Sometimes we have people who have their favorite rod or their favorite lure, and that’s fine. Bring it. We’ll put it together for you and make sure you get to use it and have a good time.”

On that particular day of shooting the video, a fourteen-year-old girl on the “Horn Star” caught her first steelhead ever (you can see her in the video). She enjoyed a really great experience in a beautiful setting on the Lower Salmon River and she got to reel in a really amazing fish.

Toward late afternoon a young woman also on the “Horn Star” caught a large sturgeon and those of us on the other boat enjoyed watching her wrestle it to shore and pose for a photo. (You also can see that scene in the video.)

Catching a White Sturgeon with Killgore Adventures

Rachel Elizabeth assisted by Kurt Killgore lands her first White Sturgeon.

Kurt and Homer explain that the sturgeon you catch in Hells Canyon and on the Salmon River are white sturgeon. They see them in excess of 8-feet quite often and sometimes see them in excess of 10 feet. Homer points out that “A 10-foot fish on a fish chart is about 500 lbs. These fish are really big, they fight really hard, they jump and they scream a lot of line off”, he says. “So they’re not just like a bottom-dwelling, lazy fish. When you set the hook on one, and when you’ve got one pulling, it’s a pretty amazing experience.”

Homer says, “Our trip is pretty consistent all the time, we make sure we get you up there, see some game, see some cool stuff, catch some fish, have you a good lunch on the beach, and just kind of have that good camaraderie of having people around and having good conversations. It’s not just hardcore fishing when you go with us. It’s a really pleasant time.”

In winding up the interview and photo shoot, Kurt offered one more thought, “One of the best parts about fishing with us is we’re local, we live right here between Hells Canyon and the Salmon River. We’re not from anywhere else. We were born and raised here and we’ve fished here our whole lives. We’ve got this awesome scenery,” he adds, “and the fishing is awesome, I mean it’s second to none really.” And he summarized his enjoyment of his trips with, “It’s pretty hard to have a bad day in Hells Canyon.”

Fishing Near Shorty Canyon

Fishing near Shorty Canyon on the Salmon RiverHere at our first stop to fish we are about 500 feet north of Shorty Canyon on the west bank of the Salmon River at an elevation of about 1300 feet in North Central Idaho. The temperature is still in the low 30s at a little after 11:00 AM, but we have a bright sun and a cloudless sky and the day is bound to warm up.

Shorty Canyon is approximately four miles north of the beach at the headquarters of Killgore Adventures in White Bird where we began our trip nearly an hour ago. Canyon walls at this spot climb to elevations exceeding 4400 feet on both sides of the river. They are mostly terraced and interlaced with steep gullies, sheer cliffs, scattered trees and shrubs. The landscape is pretty brown this time of year with occasional spots of reddish bushes, green moss and a rare sprout of green grass in protected areas.

The Snake River is about 10 miles to the west. The two rivers flow north side by side for many miles until they are joined when the Salmon River flows into the Snake a few miles south of Lewiston. In some places the two rivers are as close as five miles apart. At other places they are separated by as much as 20 miles.

A series of ridges separate the two rivers, some climbing to more than 4,600 feet in elevation. Topographic maps show a few roads meandering among the canyons, saddles and ridge tops that would be fun to explore on another outing.

The three other members of our party are fishing while I’m shooting stills and video of them for a video project. They are hoping to catch steelhead and I’m hoping they succeed.

For more on Hells Canyon, the Snake and Salmon rivers please visit our web site starting at our North Central Idaho page.

The Salmon River at White Bird, Idaho

Salmon River at White Bird, Idaho.In White Bird, Idaho looking across the Salmon River on a beautiful January 21st with the temperature at 24 degrees. We are about to board a jet boat for a video shoot highlighting the fishing trips offered by Killgore Adventures.

This shot was taken from the beach at the Killgore Adventures headquarters. The beach is just a few yards from the outfitter’s office, motel and RV Park.

Killgore Adventures operates Jet Boat tours and also fishing trips during most months of the year on either or both the Snake River in Hells Canyon and/or the Salmon River. These two great rivers run almost parallel for several miles in north central Idaho and then come together a few miles south of Lewiston, Idaho at the confluence where the Salmon empties into the Snake.

Jet Boat tours typically are run from the Spring through the Fall seasons. Several tours are offered. The most populer is a six-hour tour on the Snake River in Hells Canyon that begins at Pittsburg Landing and runs upstream to the Hells Canyon Dam and visitor center and back. A hearty lunch is included and plenty of drinks are available for thirsty clients including water, soft drinks and sport drinks.

Highlights of the tour include stopping at historical ranches, running the several class IV and V rapids, seeing a variety of wildlife and stopping to wade or swim at beautiful sandy beaches. The outfitter also offers a loop tour of both the Snake River and the Salmon River.

Fishing trips are run on both rivers and the catch could be steelhead, salmon, bass, trout and even the huge sturgeon.

Today, the focus is on fishing. As soon as the boat arrives we will head downstream and stop at several favored fishing holes to catch steelhead.

For more about White Bird, jet boat tours and north central Idaho, please go to our Go Northwest! web site and visit our White Bird page or our page for jet boat tours.

Visiting North Central Idaho

White Bird Canyon and the town of White Bird in the distance.

White Bird Canyon and the town of White Bird in the distance as seen from a pullout near the White Bird Summit Lodge.

Go Northwest! attended yesterday’s General Membership Meeting of the North Central Idaho Travel Association (NCITA) held at the Whitebird Summit Lodge and Guest Ranch, Grangeville, Idaho and came away impressed by all the many things to do and see in that area of the state. At the top of the list are the amazing opportunities for outdoor recreation including hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, rafting and jet boat trips.

In additional to those activities, the area plays host to numerous festivals and events sponsored by various local groups including the several chambers of commerce representing cities and towns of the region.

And if you are looking for scenery, consider that North Central Idaho is home to several scenic byways, the deepest river gorge in the country (Hells Canyon) and the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 (Salmon River of No Return) plus numerous wilderness areas and thousands of square miles of forests.

To learn more about the region, you also can visit our web site at gonorthwest.com and follow the links to our pages on North Central Idaho.

NCITA Meeting

Members of the North Central Idaho Travel Association listen to presentations and hold discussions about plans to promote the region to vacationers and other travelers.

Summer Fun on the Snake River

Summer! What fun we had. Passengers touring Hell’s Canyon take time out for a swim in the Snake River after a jet boat trip up the river to see Hells Canyon Dam and running the exciting Wild Sheep Rapids and Granite Creek Rapids. Want to know more? Check out our video of a Jet Boat Tour of the Snake River from which this scene is taken.

Passengers on a Jet Boat tour take time out for a swim in the Snake River.

Passengers on a Jet Boat tour take time out for a swim in the Snake River.

Waterfall on Papoose Creek

This beautiful, but unexpected, waterfall will be found at a sharp curve on US Forest Service road 517, otherwise known as the Seven Devils Road, that leads to Heavens Gate Lookout from the town of Riggins, Idaho. GPS coordinates: N 45, 23.3308, W 116, 27.3219. Elevation: 6,089 feet/1856 meters. The lookout, at an elevation of 8,100 feet, offers splendid views of the Seven Devils Mountains as well as Hells Canyon.

Waterfall on Papoose Creek lies along side Seven Devils Road leading to Heavens Gate Lookout.

Waterfall on Papoose Creek lies along side Seven Devils Road leading to Heavens Gate Lookout.

Hells Canyon Loop Tour: Day 1 0f 3

Lewiston, Idaho: 3:30 PM

Lewiston, Idaho is one of my favorite places for many reasons including climate (particularly in the winter), the amazing topography and the proximity to the Clearwater and Snake rivers and Nez Perce country.

I also particularly like the tree-lined, shady streets of the older part of town in preference to the much newer suburban-like developments anchored by the big box stores seen almost everywhere across America.

Also, there is much to do in the area including history, culture, museums and scenery. I enjoy learning more about the history and people of the Nez Perce Tribe, the Nez Perce War, Gold Mining, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I also enjoy exploring Hell’s Canyon and visiting the campus of the Lewis-Clark State College and the visitor center at Hells Gate State Park.

Unfortunately on this trip, we were running late, the afternoon sun was far too close to the horizon and we had another three-hour drive ahead of us.

Next Stop:

Hells Canyon Loop Tour: Day 1 of 3

Visitor Center, Nez Perce National Historical Park, Spalding Site: 2:21 PM

Our first stop in the Lewiston area was to visit a spot along the Clearwater River just a few miles east of the city off US Highway 12 to begin our tour of the Nez Perce and Hells Canyon country. The spot is the location of what is now known as the Spalding Site, one of 38 sites that make up the Nez Perce National Park, which was established in May 1965.

Though the park is managed by the National Park Service, the Nez Perce Tribe is one of the key partners in governing the park. Tribal members work at the park and the Tribe is consulted whenever a major park project is undertaken.

The Spalding Site, located just minutes east of downtown Lewiston, Idaho along US Highway 95 (See Google map) and the Clearwater River, is named after Henry and Eliza Spalding who founded a mission in this area to the Nez Perce in the late 1830’s.

The center piece of the site is the Visitor Center where one can learn the story of the Nez Perce people through visiting with National Park Service staff, videos, books and the excellent museum containing thousands of artifacts including a number that once belonged to Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 to September 21, 1904), chief of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce.

For more information on the Nez Perce and the Nez Perce National Historical Park, visit the park’s web site.

Next Stop: Lewiston, Idaho

Hells Canyon Loop Tour: Day 1 of 3

Viewpoint Overlooking Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington: 1:56 PM

Following lunch at Colfax, Washington, we continued south on State Route 195 intending to pass through  Lewiston, Idaho toward our day’s destination at Enterprise, Oregon. (An easy side trip is to stop at Pullman, Washington and the campus of Washington State University.)

Leaving the gentle hills of the Palouse, SR 195 rises and falls to rise again at it crosses the border into Idaho and joins US Highway 95 in approaching Lewiston. The highway seems to flatten a bit just briefly and then runs southeast a short distance before curving again to the east. At this curve is a viewpoint on the south side of the highway at a spur which affords views toward the south.

For a person unaware of the nature of the local topography, the view can be a jaw-dropping experience as the landscape suddenly changes. One discovers that the cities of Lewiston and Clarkston lie some 1,000 feet below the highway on either side the Snake River.

In the above photo looking south from the highway viewpoint, the camera has flattened the rather steep 1,000-foot descent. The highway seen in the photo is the Old Spiral Highway descending down from the spur. The Clearwater River is flowing from the left side of the photo to join the Snake River as the Snake exits Hells Canyon and passes between Lewiston on the left and Clarkston on the right.

Hells Canyon Loop: Overview

Driving a loop tour in, through, and skirting the Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area is an exercise in ups and downs accompanied by incredibly beautiful scenery offering loads of photo ops plus museum visits, history, culture, agriculture, forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and state and national scenic byways.

The tour can start and end from any of the following cities and towns: Clarkston, Colfax, Pullman or Spokane, Washington; Enterprise or Joseph, Oregon; Cambridge, Council, Grangeville, Lewiston or McCall, Idaho.

My trip log from a recent three-day tour of the loop showed a total of 730 miles driven with 15-1/2 hours behind the wheel at an average drive-time speed of 44.9 miles per hour. The entire route was over well-maintained two-lane, rural highways free of any construction delays.

The trip started and ended in Spokane, Washington with only one section backtracked. That section is the 106 miles between Spokane and Lewiston.

You can avoid the backtrack by including Moscow and Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho within the tour. The addition of these two cities adds only about 40 miles and increases the drive time only by about 50 minutes. Added attractions include the University of Idaho at Moscow, and scenic Lake Coeur d’ Alene.

See this Google map for the route as driven. And here’s the Google map showing the inclusion of Moscow and Coeur d’Alene to avoid the backtrack.