NF Coeur d'Alene Update - August 2, 2017

Sean Visintainer - 08/03/17

North Idaho Cutthroat Trout.

A trip down memory lane

I am guilty of avoiding the NF Coeur d'Alene River after May. My reasoning is the options to fish become so plentiful in June that this local waterway gets sidelined for rivers like the Spokane, Clark Fork, Big Hole, St. Joe, Kootenai and others. I've also fished that river a million times so I like to explore elsewhere. After I get my fishing fix on other rivers though I always seem to come back for a summertime visit to see what's happening here. It's kinda like a trip down memory lane.

In my early years of fly fishing in the 90's I would predominately fish the Coeur d'Alene drainage all summer long. Wandering around on Teepee Creek, Independence Creek, Jordan Creek, Yellowdog Creek, Prichard Creek, the South Fork, and the hike in stretch of the North Fork exploring pools and riffles for native westslope cutthroat. We would even try little tiny tributaries like Lost Creek sometimes, although some of those tribs are pretty small for any fish of size. In high school, my friends and I would camp back here throughout the season and did for many years afterwards.

As I got older and picked up a drift boat, then a raft, I would explore the river from a different perspective and have floated everything from Presidential Flats down to the Old Mission when the river flows are right. This time of the year the river is too low to float unless you are in one of those boats that is shaped like a duck, couch, or perhaps a donut with cooler in tow full of silver bullets.

Since none of us had been on the NF Coeur d'Alene River lately I figured it was about time to cruise up the river and see the familiar sites, snap a few photos, and perhaps catch a fish or two. Driving up here in the summer always brings back good memories of past fishing friends and adventures from days past. I drove all the way up to the hike in stretch that heads towards Jordan Camp. Hiking upriver just a quarter mile or so there wasn't a lot of great pools to fish. Water is low this time of the year so many spots of the NF Coeur d'Alene are featureless and not great holding water. The further back you go though there are some better pools I know of if I had more time to fish I would have considered hiking longer.

Driving back down river I stopped at a few roadside areas along the upper. Finding the right pool this time of the year can actually be a little tricky. There are some up high, but it would be my suggestion to not go up super far and focus on water below Yellowdog Creek. Below here are a few more deep pools and riffles with more volume to hold fish. Therein lies one of the problems with the NF Coeur d'Alene River system is the lack of structure. Compared to other rivers like the St. Joe or Kelly Creek the North Fork pales in comparison for "great" boulder strewn water and deep, riffle troughs.

My final thought for August on the Coeur d'Alene is go early while the water is coolest and you should be able to find a few cutthroat willing to eat a terrestrial or small attractor. Since daytime temps are staying well above the 90's the previously mentioned "tube hatch" will start to emerge around 11am making fishing very difficult. You may not have the best fishing of your life in August on the NF Coeur d'Alene, but I do know you can find your fix and perhaps a few willing participants.

- Sean Visintainer

  • Westslope cutthroat on the NF Coeur d'Alene love to eat terrestrials like ants during late summer.
  • Hard to fish the NF Coeur d'Alene in Idaho and not see a moose.
  • Staged fly fishing photography on the upper NF Coeur d'Alene. Low water means easy stream crossing.