Although there’s a threat of low summer flows and fish stress owing to a dismal snowpack, the cutthroat fisheries in the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers are going into the season in prime condition.
“We’re finally at a comparable level to where we were before the floods of 1996 and 97,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manger.
The second full year of expanded catch- –and-release regulations have allowed more of the larger fish to survive, he said.
Late-winter and early spring anglers on the Coeur d’Alene have been doing well using fly patterns such as big stoneflies, Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails and San Juan Worms when dry weather has left the flows reasonably low and clear.
Cooler, wet weather brings on hatches of blue-wing olives and midges that start getting the fish looking toward the surface.
Spring runoff will douse the action for a few weeks, but it should be minimal this year, Fredericks said. “The fishing ought to shape up very quickly – probably in early June.”
The entire Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe drainages are closed to cutthroat harvest, but anglers can still keep brook trout, rainbow trout or whitefish. Harvest-minded anglers also can head up to alpine lakes or try the area’s small planted waters, such as Steamboat Pond along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene.