High, But Fishable

Sean Visintainer - 05/12/17

North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River Idaho.

I never wish I woulda stayed home.

High, but fishable. That seems to be the trend lately with fishing reports on the North Idaho rivers. We are having more of a classic runoff that trends the 30 year average which means the rivers are doing the dance and if your fortunate, your days off will align with stable or dropping river levels. The last two years runoff was not only minimal, it was almost non-existent. We were able to fish right through April, May, June (classic runoff time) with little or no interruption. It was awesome. Downside was warm, low water on many streams late summer. So pick your poison. Suffer now, or suffer later. I personally like to see some higher levels this time of the year and I would think most of you as well for the sake of the rivers and the fish.

This runoff has not been as major as past big snowpack years. The largest pushes of water came off early when that low to mid elevation snowpack was getting picked on by warming air temps and rain. We are now seeing a small rollercoaster of runoff levels... some days the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe are fishable... then they will be a bit high for a few days... then they drop a little again to a high, but fishable state. Almost teasing anglers who are limited on what days they can get out, but hey, can't control mother nature yet so we go with what we are given.

Really though this past month has seen levels that are fishable. Not ideal, but by no means are completely out of shape very often. Those that are adventurous and willing to only fish a few spots rather than an entire stretch of river will be rewarded with some fish and solitude. Will you have to bushwhack? Yes. Will you be making short cast? Yes. Will your fly get hung-up in the trees more? Yes. Will it be a bitch? Potentially. Look at it like a new challenge though. Understanding, reading, and fishing high water levels makes you a more versatile angler. I love high water. It's a different challenge and often I find fish in weird, obscure places cuz the levels pushed them into new holding lies. I always seem to learn something when fishing a river at a new and higher level. Rarely am I disappointed and wished I had stayed home. As a matter of fact... I never wish I woulda stayed home.

- Sean Visintainer