Memorial Day Fishing Forecast

Sean Visintainer - 05/21/24

Fly Fishing North Idaho

River are ready to roll

There are two significant weekends for most angler's fishing season. One being Memorial Day and the other Labor Day.

For many fly anglers, at least those in the Rocky Mountain region, these two weekends are like bookends to their fishing season. The start and the end. Though many great fishing days, and potentially the best ones, are before and after these big weekends the time between these dates is prime time for trout, weather, water flows, and time off from work.

This year will be no exception for "prime time" fishing conditions to kick off the season. Lower snow pack created a mild runoff so there wasn't anything really crazy in terms of blowouts, yet the good thing about current weather is because temps are staying on the cooler side it has slowed down the melting of the final patches of snow. Hopefully that will maintain the river levels just a little longer.

When I look at the weather, current water levels, and projected water levels I'd say Memorial Day Weekend's fishing forecast is shaping up to be pretty good.

North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene / St. Joe River forecast:

As of right now Saturday will be a cooler mixed weather day which means places like the upper St. Joe River will be slower. Cutthroat don't like cold temps and fast water. The North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River being a more mild gradient will fish no matter the temp right now. Both drainages are going to be worth it, just note the higher up you go on the Joe the less "prime" it gets. It's a bigger, colder drainage and lags behind the NF CDA. The mid and lower stretches of the St. Joe have been good since March. Sunday and Monday's weather forecast is looking more favorable for the fair weather angler, that just means more fishing folks will be out those days!

Now currently the NOAA stream forecast for these rivers do show a little bump in the flows later in the week, though it's not anything significant enough to get worked up over and realistically the predictions are 60% accurate at BEST.

Hatches on the Idaho cutthroat rivers have ranged from PMD's, caddis, drakes, yellow sallies, and golden stones. There are still some salmonflies, March browns, and skwalas out, but I wouldn't expect to see much and if you did it would likely be on the St. Joe River from Avery upstream. I was on the upper North Fork Coeur d'Alene early last week and did see a couple salmonflies. Fish will more than likely still go for these types of patterns still since they were on the menu not too long ago.

Spokane River forecast:

The Spokane River from the Washington / Idaho stateline downstream to Nine Mile Falls Dam opens this Saturday May 25th. This drainage will probably see a little bigger bump since it is affected by both the North Fork CDA and St. Joe levels. If the NF CDA / St. Joe bump, then the Spokane will bump. Again though... those odds are not super high.

Current levels for the Spokane River will be high and fishable. Not as high as your average Memorial Day Weekend though. Use caution if you plan on fishing it, it's a big swift river with greasy boulders.

If temps get warm enough plan on some caddis to hatch, though they tend to like it warmer than what's predicted. It is a safe bet opening weekend to fish a rubber leg stone nymph with a caddis pupa under an indicator, or a euro rig setup the same. The Spokane River does get salmonflies and generally around opener there is a small window to fish said bugs so a big chubby chernobyl or salmonfly pattern could buy some trout too. At these bigger levels we do love streamer fishing too!

Final thoughts... It's spring and the local rivers are fishable... GO FISHING!

Have a great weekend!

Fly Fishing North Idaho