CDA River Scenes

Sean Visintainer - 07/22/19

North Fork Coeur d'Alene River late summer flows mean skinny water and spooky cutthroat trout.

A Sunday Drive fishing report

Took a leisurely Sunday drive with Jen up the Coeur d'Alene River to see what was happening as of late. Not really having a set plan other than fish a couple spots and then go huckleberry picking we got a late start and didn't hit the river road until about 1:30pm.

Driving upriver from the Kingston Exit the inner tube hatch was in full force. Tubers choked the river from Kingston on up, as to be expected on a hot July day. The tuber hatch used to end at about Prichard, but over the years it has ventured all the way up to the highest stretches. The numbers do dwindle as you go upriver though. It really is best to hit the river before 11am when summer temps are warm. Not only to avoid tubers, but for the best fishing.

We decided to check out a couple spots that didn't have tubers up high near Big Hank Campground. One spot I walked into was too skinny to hold trout at the current levels. We opted for one more before hitting the side roads in search of what we were really after, huckleberries.

I stopped at a bridge and hiked down to a corner pocket that had better depth and flow, made a few cast and an eager cutthroat plucked the foam beetle off the surface without hesitation. A few more drifts and a little nicer cutthroat did the same thing. I checked them off the to-do list and we hit the road in search of the elusive berry.

An evening of searching and picking huckleberries wrapped up the lazy Sunday drive. Purple tipped fingers and a couple milk jugs half full of berries will keep the huckleberry pancakes going for another year.

5 Tips to successful North Fork Coeur d'Alene River fishing during summer:

  1. Go early, be done early - Two reasons for this. 1 - Tubers will start hitting the water late morning and fishing will be shut down. 2 - Water temps are coolest, trout will be most active.

  2. Longer / Finer leaders and tippet - Water is super low, fish are spooky. Lengthen your leader to 12' or so, tie on 5x or maybe even 6x depending on the fly size.

  3. Small flies, attractors, terrestrials - Gone are the days of fishing mega large flies, that was a couple months ago. Try downsizing for more educated fish.

  4. Find water that is harder to access - This means less pressure.

  5. It is what it is - Summer in my opinion is marginal fishing on the North Fork Coeur d'Alene. Yes, you can catch some fish, but you need to be prepared for a busy river. Not necessarily busy with anglers, busy with recreational folks, tubing, dirt biking, swimming, kayaking, etc. This is the most popular river in the region for recreation so have some patience and just take in the solitude when you can.

Huckleberries from the Coeur d'Alene River, Idaho.
Feeding the dog huckleberries from the Coeur d'Alene River, Idaho.
Underwater of a North Fork Coeur d'Alene River cutthroat trout.