Pre-runoff Fishing Tips

Sean Visintainer - 03/24/21

Pre-runoff fly fishing on the North Fork Coeur d'Alene River.

Enjoy more fishing season

March and early April around the west means pre-runoff fly fishing on area streams such as the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe Rivers.

Pre-runoff is the short window before the mid and high elevation mountain snowmelt starts, which on most years around the region is mid-to-late April when both daytime and nighttime temperatures are well above freezing.

This window is often short, yet can yield great results when river levels are good and water temps have warmed up slightly.

Key places to find trout during pre-runoff:

  • Eddies

  • Inside bends (with depth)

  • Deep pools

  • Side channels

  • Backwater areas

Key takeaways when identifying pre-runoff water:

  • Depth - Each river is different, and where on the river, but when fishing our regional rivers we look for water deeper than 4 feet during colder months. Often locations on rivers like the North Fork Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe River with depths closer to 6 feet or more can be best.

  • Slower currents - Trout are cold blooded creatures. Their metabolism is slow during this time of the year, find water where fish don't have to expend much energy.

  • Areas out of the main river flows - If river levels are rising, or higher than average, find places that fish can relief from bigger flows.

  • Sunny locations - Find places that see more sunlight than others. Sunlit areas can be slightly warmer and fish more active.

Take all of these features and locations into consideration when pre-runoff fishing for trout on rivers and watch your success rates go up!

Enjoy a few (old!) videos on identifying and fishing early season water. Good luck!