Coeur d'Alene Fishing Report

In many people’s opinion, the Coeur d’ Alene area offers the best native westslope cutthroat fishing in the world. That’s because you can hit the St. Joe, Coeur d’ Alene and North Fork Clearwater rivers, plus Kelly Creek, any day between July 4 and the end of October and expect to land a bunch of fish on dry flies. But cutts aren’t the only game in town—great bass, pike, perch and even muskie options can be found on the area’s plethora of lakes.
  • Coeur d Alene Fishing Report

    Coeur d'Alene River

    Well, welcome to spring in North Idaho.  One week fishable, the next, not so much.  This morning the CdA is running 7,760 cfs and on the drop.  The forecast shows we should be back around 5,000 cfs in about a week.  This is still on the edge of floatable, in my book.  Keep in mind though, it is a big if -as it is dropping and clearing it can be fantastic fishing.  Also, wading is much tougher now. The snow on the bank is gone and this makes it easier to get down to the river.

    Nymphing and streamer fishing is the way to go in the higher flows.  You will find it hard to find a section where you can throw a dry fly to set up fish feeding consistently.  The back eddies are the places to look now as the fish will move to the edges and inside bends where the water is slowest.  March browns, skwalas, blue-winged olives, and midges are going to be on the palate for bugs.  But, I'd probably stick with a double nymph rig or a sculpin pattern.  Make sure to run enough weight on your nymph rigs or your streamer to get down fast enough.  In the higher flows, the fish aren't likely to make big moves to come to your flies, you need to get down to them.  Double bead stonefly nymphs or a heavy bigger Pat's rubber legs with a smaller bead head as a dropper with a couple of splitshot and longer leader should be the ticket now.

    If you've considered getting into trout Spey, this is the time these rods shine.  A longer stick to nymph tight up against the banks is super handy or chucking a big sculpin on a sink tip.  These rods are awesome for these techniques. An Echo TR  11'4-weight yes, please!

    St. Joe River

    The Joe is running about the same flow as the Coeur d'Alene at 7,840 cfs.  It’s a floatable flow but it is hard in most spots to walk/wade.  When it comes to the Coeur d'Alene and the St. Joe Rivers, I favor a flow at 5,000 this time of year for floating -while still having wadeable access.  I consider "normal" summer flows around, or below, 1,500 cfs.

    This is such a fun time of year to fish as it is changing all the time and keeps you on your toes -so to speak.  Getting out of your box and trying new tactics and areas is always a good thing to do.  The March browns are making a good showing as well as the skwalas too.  The weather forecast says that it is going to cool off again which will let the flows drop back to a fishable flow.  In about a week, we should have another window of good fishing.  This is pretty typical this time of year and, at some point, it will cut loose and be unfishable probably in mid to late May.  But in the meantime, take advantage of these windows and go for it!  A chubby chernobyl with a longer two to three-foot dropper of a stonefly nymph or bead head is a good combo right now.  You’ll want to keep your offerings near the bank and rocks as this is where the fish will hold during these higher flows.

    Clark Fork River (MT)

    There is very big water here, guys and gals.  It is at 25,900 cfs.  This is far too high to fish now.  We need to see flows in the mid to lower teens to consider it.  Stay tuned, as we will keep you posted on when it is back in shape.

    Local Lakes

    Local trout lakes like; Cocolalla, Round, Kelso, and Fernan are producing well.  Hayden, Coeur d'Alene, Twin, Spirit, and the Chain lakes are fishing okay.  With the cooler weather, the bass and pike fishing is just mediocre.  Guys are picking up pike in the back-shallow bays with bigger streamers and dry lines.  You’ll want to try to get out on a day that is warmer. This should get more fish in the shallows.  A few bass both largemouth and smallies are getting caught but nothing gangbusters.  We just need a good spell of high temperatures in the 60s or 70s to really get them to move in and get active.  Folks are getting a few crappie on Hayden, Avondale, Fernan, and Twin Lakes.

    Right now, it seems somewhat spotty, one day good and then the next it is slow.  It will get going with the warm weather hopefully in a couple of weeks.  Smaller bead head nymphs under an indicator over a downed tree is a great setup for the crappie.  Woolly buggers in white, black, and olive are good choice to use for the smallies and largemouth.  I like using a five to 10-foot sink tip with a size 6 or 4# bugger with rubber legs and then cover lots of water.  Keep your retrieve slow and deep for the smallmouth, and look for largemouth to start setting up on beds in the shallows in the next couple of weeks.

    See past reports from the CDA region here, or click here to view all northwest regional reports.