One of the most remote regions in Oregon, the Imnaha river runs 73 miles from high up in the Eagle Cap Wilderness until it joins with the Snake River a little down stream of Doug bar. Amazingly, nearly all of this rugged river is accessible by trail and roads of varying condition. The Imnaha canyon is spectacularly scenic in its entirety; from gin clear deep pools high up stream surrounded by mountains, to craggy canyon country surrounding the quaint community of Imnaha and continuing downstream. Home to native Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Bull-trout, summer Chinook, and plenty of rattle-snakes, elk, deer, big horn sheep, birds of prey, and black bear; a trip down the Imnaha river corridor might be the closest thing there is today to being part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. What ever fishing adventure you are after, the Imnaha is sure to offer an unforgettable experience .
The lower river is a wonderful little steel head fishery. The mid river can be a fair to good trout fishery. The upper river near the FS campgrounds off Hwy 39 is a poor trout fishery because: native trout are not protected; the river is not stocked with trout; the river is glacial fed and does not have many nutrients; and campers tend to “fish-out“ this section of river.
Thanks to the Nature Conservancy and Forest Service, the lower river (the bottom 12 miles from Horse Creek to the Snake) has good public access. There is also a good easement upstream (south) from town for the first three miles. However, the mid river above and below town is mostly private and should not be trespassed. Oregon laws are tough. It is ILLEGAL to hunt or fish on private property without permission – it does not have to be fenced or posted. However, recent information from the Oregon Attorney's Office suggests that if you can float a river in a boat, you can wade and fish it below the high water mark - if you don't trespass when accessing the river.
Some of our favorite Imnaha River Fly Patterns :
Dries: Kaufman Stimulator sz. 8 -14 , Parachute Adams sz. 10- 16 , Purple Haze sz 10 -16, Foamulator sz. 6-12 , Caddis sz 8-16, Hoppers sz 6 - 12 , Yellow Sallies sz. 12 - 16
Nymphs: Princes sz. 6 - 14 , Rubber Leg Squirrel sz. 8 - 14 , Copper John sz. 12 - 18 , Lightning Bug sz. 14 - 18 , Bead Head Hare's Ear sz 8 - 16 , Wooly Bugger sz. 8 - 12, Kaufman Stone Nymph sz. 6 -12 , Copper Swan sz 8 -12 , Bitch Creek sz 8 -12,
Streamers: BH Rubber Leg Black or Olive Woolly Bugger , Sculpin , Muddler Minnows , Leeches
Steelhead: Black and Purple Hobo Spey , Purple Peril , Summer Run , Green Butt Skunk , Gold BH Black Woolly Bugger , Egg Sucking Crystal Leech , Copper Swan , BH Prince , Jumbo John , Egg Patterns , BH Rubber Leg Red Squirrel , Possie Bugger, Starlight Leech
Bass: Chubby Chernobyl , BH Green Woolly Bugger , Poppers , Muddler Minnow
Stream Flow Data: Imnaha River at Imnaha
Current Weather: Forecast
Imnaha River Reports:
8/16/17: CFS 219 - higher than normal for this time of year. Some fairly good trout fishing for small/med size trout and bull trout have been reported from town upstream 20 miles. HOWEVER, you must ask permission from private land owners once you leave the 2.5 mile fishing easement just upstream/south of town.
8/5/17: CFS 267 - perhaps twice the normal for this time of year. Water temps - I am told they aren't bad, but I need someone to use a thermometer. One fisher reported catching a nice bass at Fence Creek, so it is probably getting warmer each day. Fishing is only fair. Like the Wallowa, the fish are small - most under 8".
7/25/17: Still fairly high at 469 cfs - would normally be 200 - 300 by now. Some trout are being caught near the town of Imnaha on grasshoppers, or hare's ears. If you are good, and have some mega streamers, you can catch bull trout near the camp grounds near HWY 39.
7/17/17. Down to 757 cfs, but will be better round 300 cfs. Fish being caught on hoppers on the fishing easement upstream from town.
7/13/17. Dropping like a rock (28% this past week). Still relatively high at 950 cfs, small and medium size trout are taking hoppers in the slack water. Will fish better at 500 cfs.
6/25/17: Still high, but dropping daily despite the hot weather/snow melt. Should be a good summer.
6/25/2017: Too high to fish well.
6/15/2017: Big snow pack - high flows. No reports to date of decent fishing.