Destination Spotlight - Natural Retreats South Fork Lodge, Idaho

June 09, 2016 4 min read

The South Fork of the Snake is an incredibly productive fishery that enjoys one of the longest dry fly seasons in the lower 48.  Natural Retreats South Fork Lodge is an elegant operation that overlooks this  remarkable river. The setting, facility, and amenities offered will match anything you have experienced at a great fishing lodge. The majority of their fishing is done from drift boats in the early season, and wading selected riffles becomes more common as water levels drop in the fall.

The 65 miles of the South Fork of the Snake River is known by many as one of the best tail water and dry fly fisheries in the country and is home to rainbows, browns and native Yellowstone cutthroats.  South Fork Lodge offers great dining, a full fly shop and a range of access points to this extraordinary natural resource. The comfort of the lodge, the magic of the South Fork and the many other activities available in the surrounding area from Yellowstone National Park to Jackson Hole, ensures a vacation experience that you will remember forever. Enjoy elegant accommodations and meals overlooking a prolific western trout river.


 A fine dry fly caught native Cutthroat

All South Fork Lodge rooms have a view of the river.

Drift boats meander the productive water of the South Fork of the Snake. 

What to expect at Natural Retreats South Fork Lodge

Expert Interview with Charles Gehr

Where is the lodge?
The lodge overlooks the river near Swan Valley, Idaho, one hour west of Jackson, WY.
How do I get there?
Guests fly into either Idaho Falls, ID or Jackson, WY. From the airport you can rent a car and drive to the lodge or arrange for a shuttle.
When should I go?
The South Fork generally fishes well from May through October. In the early season during high water runoff the fishing is mostly with nymphs and streamers. Dry fly fishing is best mid-June through September.
Where do they fish?
The lodge floats three different sections of the South Fork. The beats are located above, beneath and right in front of the lodge.
What are the accommodations and meals like?
The lodge rooms are extremely comfortable and well appointed with balconies overlooking the river. Deluxe Suites are available for guests that would like more space. Guests have their choice each evening of where to enjoy dinner. The elegant dining room offers a seasonal menu that emphasizes local ingredients and regional fare. The Riverside Bar has a simplified menu for lighter appetites and a casual atmosphere.
How would you describe the general vibe and atmosphere of the lodge?
The lodge itself is an impressive piece of architecture but it maintains a casual western feel. Both their restaurant and their bar are frequented by locals and visitors not staying at the lodge making it feel more like a sought after gathering place than a hosted home-style lodge experience.
Is there an onsite manager, owner or point person at the lodge?
There is always a manager and/or assistant manager on-site and available to guests as well as person manning the front desk. While the lodge is well staffed and service-oriented, it is run more like a hotel than a family run lodge.
Is there internet and cell service?
Cell service is available at the lodge and all rooms have high speed wireless internet.
How do they fish?
Most of the fishing is done from the boat though there are many opportunities to get out and wade fish riffles. Dry fly and dry/dropper rigs account for most of the fishing mid-June through September.
What fish will I catch?
Cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout.
How many fish will I catch?
Catch rates vary quite a bit day to day throughout the season. Given that, guests can expect to hook 10 – 16 fish per person each day.
Will we see other anglers?
Yes. Put in and take out boat ramps can, at times, be a somewhat social affair. The South Fork is a large river with a high fish count so the fishing can remain productive even on the busiest days.
What are the guides like?
South Fork Outfitters maintains more than a dozen full-time guides in their pool and, at times, will utilize guides from their sister operation on the Henry’s Fork. Their guides are all professionals and have a vested interest in building their skills on the South Fork. South Fork guides fare exceptionally well in the annual Jackson Hole One Fly competition.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, there are many opportunities to wade fish. Guests are encouraged to let their guide know how much they like to wade, as the majority of anglers on the river tend to fish almost exclusively from boats.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
All of the floats are within a half hour of the lodge.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Packages include all equipment, flies and licenses.
What is your favorite rod for the trip?
My trusty 9′ 5-weight handles everything here. In the fall I’ll bring a 10′ 7-weight rod for throwing streamers and I always travel with a 3-weight rod for dry fly fishing.
Are there other activities?
There are scenic trails nearby to enjoy hiking and the abundant wildlife found in this beautiful area. Guests can also enjoy bird watching, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, nature photography, as well as sightseeing and access to a number of golf courses. Targhee National Forest, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park are within day trip range as well.
What are the physical demands?
None. You can spend all day fishing from the boat if you’d like.
What is your favorite memory of this trip?
Spending most of an afternoon in September casting to rising fish and trying to pick out the species of each fish before casting.


Contact Charles Gehr at Fly Water Travel here for more information!





Also in The Ashland Fly Shop Blog

AFS Fishing Report - Late September 2022
AFS Fishing Report - Late September 2022

September 27, 2022 1 min read

Check out our latest fishing report! It's heating up out there!! 
How to Riffle Hitch
How to Riffle Hitch

August 16, 2021 3 min read

Fishpond Switchback Pro Review
Fishpond Switchback Pro Review

August 06, 2021 1 min read