North Idaho Pre-Runoff Fishing

Sean Visintainer - 04/24/12

Releasing a St Joe Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Photo by Michael Visintainer

It's only been a handful of seasons since the North Idaho stream regulations changed to allow year-round Catch & Release fishing on the St. Joe River and North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene Rivers. Since the start of the year round season in North Idaho we have had the opportunity to get to know these streams a little more during this new window of opportunity.

For those of you that haven't capitalized on what we like to call "pre-runoff" fishing this article is definitely for you! Now to clarify between winter fishing and "pre-runoff" is kinda a gray area. I would classify anything from mid-March until the river blows it's brains out as "pre-runoff"... anything before that is just plain cold winter fishing (which isn't half bad either btw).

This little window of opportunity can potentially be some of the best fishing of the year or as good as the best summer day of fishing if you hit it right. That being said you need to watch the river flows and weather conditions. I look for steady or dropping flows and stable weather patterns. Now obviously you can't control either so if the conditions look somewhat reasonable I still say go... cuz winter is too long and runoff just adds to your misery of not hitting moving water!

St Joe Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Photo by Michael Visintainer

The cool thing about our North Idaho rivers too is it takes a substantial melt of low elevation snow and/or rain to make the rivers muddy. That being said you can fish these rivers higher than you think. But I will warn you that good wade fishing levels are different than good floating levels... and I won't lie... I am a floating snob just for the simple fact you can fish these rivers twice as much, twice as long in the season, and cover every piece of water you ever wanted to.

Early in the pre-runoff season meaning Early March... look for good nymphing and slow moving streamers to turn fish. As things warm up look for great dry fly fishing. Cutthroat will be very opportunistic during these earlier months so don't be afraid to throw some big nasty dries ie. Chernobyl style stuff.

Call 509-924-9998, email, stop by, or check our fishing reports anytime for the latest and greatest on the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe River fishing conditions.

Don't miss out on some killer early season river fishing opportunities!!