Rain Delays are for Baseball Games

Sean Visintainer - 05/19/15

Fly Fishing North Idaho Streams during rainy weather for trout.

Why did you buy your waterproof wading jacket?

Why did you buy your waterproof wading jacket? To fish in the rain duh! Bo and Mike's recent outing on the North Fork Coeur d'Alene River reminded me that I wanted to write this simple post about fishing on rainy days in North Idaho. Why? Cuz they crushed big cutthroat in this last Wednesday's rain.

This is no secret that fishing can be good in the rain. Now I'm not talking about a torrential downpour or monsoon, I'm talking about typical spring and early summer rainy days. We live in a relatively dry area compared to the Olympic National Forest or the Amazon jungle so our version of rainy days usually means there are going to be big breaks in the day where it may be cloudy and no rain.

North Idaho Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Photo by Michael Visintainer

Thoughts on why rainy days can mean good fishing

  1. Rain means low pressure systems and from my observation that can mean when the fish are very active. Not all the time... there are lots of variables there, but it's pretty common.

  2. Rain also tends to warm the water and trigger insect hatches, in particular mayflies. BWO's are very common on these kind of days, but on the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe I would expect to see some drake mayflies (brown in early - mid May, green drakes in later May). As spring progresses I have seen some mega hatches of PMD mayflies too. These would tend to be late may, through June. I can think of a number of times where the rainy day hatches of PMD's on the St. Joe would rival any famous river in the West.

  3. Just because it's raining Spokane does not mean it's raining on the St. Joe or NF Coeur d'Alene. FACT.

  4. Rain scares people away. I guess this is what perplexes me about the sport and humans. You want to go fishing when the fishing is good right? Well bright sunny skies are awesome... for us, but not always the best fishing conditions. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of great sunny fishing days, but there also lots of excellent rainy fishing days. There are a lot of quiet rivers on rainy days.

  5. Cold / rainy vs Warm / Rainy. Looking at how the temps are going to warm up can play a roll in how the fishing is going to be on a particular. If it's gunna be 37 and rainy... may be tough. But if the air temps are going to warm up to the 50's by mid-day shit might just be amazing.

  6. Rain can increase water levels which turns the streamer bite back on. Big rain storms can bump up the North Fork Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe River a little, but very rarely do they "blow-out". It would have to be spring and still have lots of snow left for a rainstorm to cause one of those rivers to be out of shape. Rising river levels can flush food into the system or push fish back to the bank, making them aggressive towards a bigger striped streamers.

  7. Don't over analyze it. One day you will be dead and you will wish you woulda fished more.

Female Cutthroat caught and release just after the weather cleared. Photo by Michael Visintainer