Where to Fish During the Heat

Sean Visintainer - 07/14/15

Brook Trout

There's no reason to put down the fly rod...

Keep 'em wet, play them quick, release them quick, and fish the morning hours until early afternoon and you will have safe, responsible fishing on any of these waters. All of these places are great for either a day trip or weekend multi-day trip. Force yourself to try a new place, you won't regret it.

  • Spokane River - Aquifer recharge keeps this river cooler than most. Below the Falls and into Riverside State Park there are plenty of riffles and pools to stay entertained in a morning of fishing. Plus it's right in your backyard! The Upper Spokane is too low for safe trout fishing, but the bass fishing above Sullivan is currently very good to the Stateline.
  • St. Joe River - More water than the North Fork Coeur d'Alene with more oxygenated runs, shade, and fish populations. Wade fishing above Avery and the tribs is still a great option. Pontoons are good from there down. Hoppers and foam stonefly patterns are dominating the scene here still near Avery and up.
  • Kelly Creek / NF Clearwater - A little further driver than the St. Joe but an excellent place to camp for a night of the weekend. Tons of pockets, riffles, and pools to seek refuge during the heat. If you are not into camping you can stay in Suprior or St. Regis, MT and driver back into Idaho from there. We fished here a couple Sundays ago and had a blast.
  • Bass Lakes - Silver Lake, Long Lake, the CDA Chain Lakes, so many lakes to list! If you like warmwater (bass, carp, pike, musky) Dave at the shop is the man to talk to. He can get you dialed in or on a half day trip.
  • Grande Ronde / Snake River Bass - Smallies are a blast, the Grande Ronde and are Snake Rivers are beautiful. Scrappy action on a 5wts. They don't call this area Hell's Canyon for nothing though... it's hot as hell. One of my absolute, most favorite things to do in the summer.
  • Clearwater River, Idaho - Fish are trickling in. Not a lot, but they will start to show up better over the next month. The lower river near the paper mill is best this time of the year, aka the stink hole. Give this one a few weeks though for better odds of not just going for casting practice.
  • Fernie River, BC - Beautiful cutthroat fishery just a little over 4 hours North of Spokane. Fernie is a fun, small town with plenty of accommodations and plenty of cold, clear cutthroat water running right through town. Great floats, good wade access, plus a couple other nearby streams to fish. Great weekend getaway.
  • Kootenai River, Montana - The biggest, coldest river only 2.5 hours from Spokane! Montana's largest tailwater, never runs out of water, never is affected with hoot-owl restrictions. Numerous floats just outside of Libby, MT and wade fishing opportunities. The Kootenai is primarily a Redband rainbow fishery, but also has a mix of cutthroat and bulls (that get very big) and a rare brown or brook trout. Great dry fly river with big foam leggy bugs.
  • Missouri River, Montana - One of the top tailwaters in the world. Cold water, tons of fish. The fish get a little more particular this time of the year, but it can be great dry fly fishing if you work at it. Love the "MO".
  • High Alpine Lakes - Lots and lots of alpine lakes around Washington, Idaho, Montana. Get a map or a book from the shop, find the mountains with little blue dots on the on them, start exploring. I know I will be hitting some this summer. Solitude, good scenery, and a good workout, tough to beat.
  • Small Streams - All of these rivers listed have feeder streams at some point on them that may not be affected by the warm weather. Time to break out the fiberglass rod, a box of dry flies, and go for an easy hike. This can be a blast and will bring a new meaning to what a lunker is when you are fishing a creek barely wider than your truck.

What are "hoot-owl" restrictions?

Most folks are already familiar with this term for fishing regulations as it is often used in Montana. This is when streams are closed for the afternoon and evening hours to help fish deal with warmer water temps. Is it still safe to fish if a river has these restrictions? Yes, if it is not, they will completely shut the river down. I've guided the Clark Fork during the hoot-owl restrictions in years past and the fishing still remained great in the morning hours before you had to wrap up it up. So don't be alarmed, you can still fish, just follow the time frames of when a river is open and enjoy the fishing.