South East Idaho Streams


Dave Langston



    The Portneuf River from Chesterfield reservoir to Inkom is a favorite of many local anglers and in the past brought in many out of state sportsmen looking for pristine waters. This small river boomed in the 1970 era and started its decline in the late 1980’s into the 1990’s. But, with habitat and environmental cleanups and restorations the river is on the way back to its former self.


    “This river has always been a favorite of mine and I have spent countless hours fishing for rainbows and cutthroats,” says Pocatello angler Van Tillotson. Tillotson says that it was not unusual for anglers to bring home bows or cuts up to 4,5 or even 6 pounds in the past. “This was a fabulous fishery and I am glad to see it is coming back,” he adds.


    Your best bet for rainbows and cutthroats is above the town of Lava Hot springs up to the mouth of Toponce creek near Bancroft. Although a good amount of this is private, access points marked by Idaho Fish and Game (208) 232-4703 are clearly marked and offer very good access as long as you are willing to get wet. With the high water mark rule in place anglers can wade much of the river and never have to worry about trespassing. Traditional tackle like Panther Martins, Mepps, Rooster Tails, worms and flies work well. Sections of this river have special regulations so consult your fish Idaho regulations hand book before you head out. Cutthroats also have special regulations in all of southeast Idaho.


    Below Lava Hot springs down to Inkom German browns are king. With deeper holes and a good amount of snags and brush, browns thrive in this lower stretch and can reach sizes up to six pounds or better. Cutthroats and rainbows are also present and Fish & Game in this lower stretch stock rainbows yearly. Rapalas and large spinners are top bets for browns while smaller spinners and bait work well on cutthroats and rainbows.


    If small stream fishing is your game then Pebble Creek and Toponce creek above Lava Hot springs is a good bet. Both tributaries dump into the Portneuf River and are clearly marked just off the river corridor. Both offer great camping and solitude along with very good stream fishing. Again, Idaho Fish and Game stocks these small creeks and anglers are often surprised as they hook into holdovers that run over a pound. While very brushy and perfect for small spin casting, fly fisherman can do well fishing the flats where the creeks meander through. Expect to land both rainbows and cutthroats.


    The Cub River south of Preston is a good bet for anglers to load up on rainbows, cutthroats and brook trout. A few elk seasons ago we fished this small creek and landed a brook pushing a pound showing all its fall colors, it was quite the sight to see coming from such a small creek. You’re not going to catch anything big but both cutts and rainbows do reach up to 16 inches on occasions. A perfect place to camp, fish and relax.