Memorial Day Weekend Fishing Forecast

Sean Visintainer - 05/22/19

Floating the scenic North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River in north Idaho while fly fishing for cutthroat trout.

To fish or not to fish? Said no one ever.

The main fishing is about to kick off for many folks around the northwest and beyond. Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend is traditionally the "peak" season for many locations around the west. While parts of the Rocky Mountains will be in high runoff we are lucky enough to get our spring melt a little earlier here in the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area making Memorial Day Weekend a likely possibility to go catch some fish on local rivers.

So what does my crystal ball say about this weekend? Lets consult this magical ball... yup... good fishing! Lol, that will be my answer for any day of the season 'cuz when is there a really bad day of fishing?! You are outside, not working (unless you guide), and you have fly rod in your hand. There should be ZERO complaints about any of that! If there is just bring me your gear and I will take good care of it for you ;)

Okay, jokes aside, in all seriousness... the North Fork Coeur d'Alene is good. The NF Coeur d'Alene is a classic winner on opening weekend. Rarely is it too high to fish, lower elevation and lighter snowpack mean this river shapes up quicker than most and water temps warm a bit faster. How high can you go? Well my answer is how high do you wanna go? The higher you go... the colder the water... the colder the water... the slower the fishing can be. Yes, you can ALWAYS find, and catch, fish Memorial Day Weekend on the upper parts of these drainages. Some years they are more optimum than others. This year is about average. Reports from higher up have been slower, probably due to colder water temps. Mid and lower stretches of the river have been best.

Adventurous anglers will head to the St. Joe River. Water levels shot up fairly high last week but it has been dropping nicely and is well within a range that I consider fishable. That being said, ALL of the optimum water will be found low in this drainage at current levels. Higher up, good holding water is there, but VERY limited.

North Fork Coeur d'Alene / St. Joe current bug hatches:

  • - Salmonflies
  • - Drakes (gray and brown)
  • - March Browns
  • - Skwalas
  • - Yellow Sallies
  • - Caddis
  • - Goldenstones

Now something new for this Memorial Day Weekend is the Spokane River opener. This river normally had two different openers plus a stretch that stayed open year round. The whole Spokane River will now open the Saturday before Memorial Day and stay open through March 15th. Will the Spokane River be fishable this weekend? Good question. I think it will be high, and fishable in areas. For many it will be too high. For some, it will have enough spots to pick at to keep them entertained. Plan on hatches of caddis in the afternoons and evenings, and plan on a few salmonflies in the lower stretches. Don't get too worked up over the salmonfly hatch here though, it's sparse at best.

Lake fishing will be a good plan this weekend too. We have had reports of good chironomid fishing still on some lakes, and also successful fishing with balanced leeches. Damsel and dragonfly activity is in the early stages but I would throw them in the mix too, callibaetis are still productive too. Look at fishing shorelines edges since the water cooled back down this week. All lakes are open so pick your poison... Amber Lake, Medical Lake, Coffeepot Lake, etc.

While many folks think Memorial Day Weekend is a shit show of anglers, it's often just a shit show of campers. The busiest weekend, in my opinion, is the weekend after Memorial Day Weekend... cuz every fly angler thought the holiday weekend was busiest. Food for thought ;)

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend whether you fish, camp, do yard work, bbq, or just hang with friends and family! We are open all weekend for your fly angling needs.

Camping in North Idaho