It's August. It's hot. It's smoky. Wildfires. Hoot-owl restrictions. Drought. Warm water temps. Etc, etc.
The dog days of summer certainly come with challenges anymore here in the west. It seems like drought and fires are going to be normal during this part of the year.
The big question right now in the shop is where can I go fishing since there are fires on the North Fork of the Coeur River and St. Joe Rivers?
Good question. Lots of options...
Spokane River - stays cold all summer thanks to our aquifer. Fishes well with chernobyl / dropper rigs and hopper / dropper rigs. Being right in town it's close and convenient. If the weather is too smoky, don't go. Too hot, don't go. Go early, go late. The water stays cool all day. Warmer days will be tough mid-day.
Kootenai River - stays super cold all summer and has great flows being a tailwater fishery. A great dry fly fishery with a number of float options.
Yakima River - has been less smoky over there and good dry/dropper summer fishing. Lots of floats and plenty of foot access.
North Fork Clearwater / Kelly Creek - as of last week was pretty smoke free and fishing well. Terrestrials and attractors are the name of the game. There is a road slide in the lower Black Canyon that will remain all year; however, there is A LOT of water above that and everything else on Kelly Creek and below Kelly Forks WC is all accessible too. If you had plans to fish the upper St. Joe but can't now due to fires this is a great alternative. Yes it is a slightly longer drive than the Joe, but if you had plans for 2+ days then it's totally worth it.
Clark Fork River - does have hoot-owl restrictions... but that being said even if it didn't it fishes best in the early summer morning hours regardless. Hopper/droppers and low profile chernoybls here plus rusty spinners early, purple haze and caddis.
Blackfoot River - not too far from Spokane, doable for a two-dayer. Float options and some foot access. No restrictions currently. Fun multi-trout species fishery!
Small streams - many larger rivers in WA, ID, and MT have tributaries that stay cold and fishable all summer. Using google maps and some old fashion detective work can often lead to a bit of fun and fish!
Carp - Lots of options. See latest blog post by Silver Bow guide Kenyon Pitts.
Bass Fishing - the upper Spokane from Barker and Idaho offers smallmouth bass opportunities that can be fun on light fly rods. Most are not big (sub 12") but can be worth a couple hours of entertainment. The Grande Ronde is typically another excellent smallmouth option, no update on fires/smoke in that area. Tons of lakes around the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area have bass fly fishing opportunities.
High Alpine Lakes - using google maps and state agency websites the WDFW or Idaho or Montana Fish and Game sites, you will be able to find hike in lakes.
The name of the game during August is a couple things...
A - be creative. Since the St. Joe and North Fork Coeur d'Alene are not great options in the upper stretches where most people fish this time of the year you will need to fish the lower sections, or go somewhere else like the above listed
B - fish earlier. We have been lucky with some cooler weather recently, and even rain, but overall the morning hours are where it's at. I don't know about you but... when it's in the mid-upper 90 degree range or more I'd rather be doing something else LOL. Give 'em a break when water temps are 68 degrees or higher.