North Fork of the Coer d'Alene River

A jewel of a stream close to home.

North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River

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This little river is right at the top of my list of favorite rivers. It is proof of the saying, “Trout don’t live in ugly places”. I’ve been fishing here for about ten years and I still find new spots to explore. This week I ignored the newspaper, which said it was too high and off-color to fish, and headed up to give it a go. Every now and then I make a good decision.

Cinammon Creek Waterfall

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Even though the water was nearly double its usual flow for the first week of July, it is still only 500 cubic feet per second. And since the level has been continuously dropping for over two weeks, the water was its usual gin-clear color. The weather was perfect, the river was perfect, the crowds were gone and I caught a bunch of fish.

Surprisingly, not many flies were in the air. No real hatches, only the occasional caddis or PMD. Usually these wild cutthroat are eager takers of dry flies. In fact I rarely resort to nymphs or droppers. But they didn’t want to look up, so I put on a #14 Bead Head Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear and began to catch fish.

Native Cutthroat

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Only fishing from 10:30 to 4  pm, I caught around 25 fish. Four whitefish and the rest were beautiful, healthy cutts from 7 to 15 inches.

The funniest thing of the day was the behavior of a 13 inch whitefish. I brought him in quickly and released him without


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removing him from the water. He settled down to the stream bottom, then drifted up to beside my boot. He wasn’t stressed or hurt, he just thought that was a good spot! I took this picture of a frog while I was there. After that I looked down and the fish was still there. He is hard to see in this photo, but he is lying there.  I reached into the water, hoping to touch him, but he realized I wasn’t a tree and took off like a bottle rocket.

Scenic vistas

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Of course I go to the river for fishing, but that is only the offered reason. Like most times, the sites are not just of fish. I saw deer, moose, frogs, wrens, dippers, goldfinches, red-tailed hawks, beaver, bear grass blooms and much more. For my first wading day of the year, it was a very good day.


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For almost 50 miles the road winds along the river. It it so rare to have a paved road along such a superb fishery. Of course that means in the summer, the lower river is used hard by inner tubers, rafters and families. But the upper river is too small for that type of usage, so it is the playground of the fly fisherman.

Last pool of the day

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When you are ready to quit for the day, it is hard not to stop at one more pool or run. This deep pool is right on the road so is fished hard. But I have never failed to catch at least a few small fish every time I’ve stopped by. And in the fading light with caddis hopping around, sometimes 15 to 20 fish will take my CDC microcaddis fly.

Then it is time to pack up and head home. Until the next time.

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