Category Archives: Hells Canyon

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.