Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing St. Joe River Idaho
The St. Joe River in Idaho is one of the best cutthroat
trout streams in the nation. Not only is it a good fly
fishing stream, it is a beautiful, wild freestone river. The
St. Joe drains from the west slopes of the Bitterroot
Mountain Range along the Montana - Idaho Panhandle
state line. Fly fishing the St. Joe River is a wonderful
experience that's worth any anglers time.
Part of the river is a designated "Wild and Scenic" River.
The river is 120 miles long, running from its headwaters
at St. Joe Lake through the St. Joe National Forest to
Lake Coeur dAlene. .
Its trout, westslope cutthroat, are plentiful throughout the
length of the river, but more so in the extended "catch
and release - artificial lures/flies only - barbless hooks"
sections of the river.
The river consist of long sections of shallow flats over
cobble, and deep pools with short sections of riffles
between them. It's excellent dry fly water. Below Gold
Creek, the river becomes wider and has lots of rapids.
It's tougher to fish but still contains plenty of cutthroats
for those willing to go to the effort to fish it.
The section above Spruce Tree Campground doesn't
have road access and is also fished much less than the
popular sections. It has a trail that follows along the river
for 17 miles.
From Prospector Creek downstream to St. Marles, the
St. Joe River is stocked with rainbows. The water is
slower and there are fewer cutthroats, especially during
The St. Joe has a large variety of aquatic insects. They
vary from the fast water sections to the moderate
sections of the river. Stoneflies are very plentiful. Early
season Winter stoneflies start the season off. There are
some sections with Salmonflies and they are closely
followed by the Golden Stoneflies. Little Yellow
Stoneflies are plentiful from late June through July.
There are several different types of mayflies including
early and late season hatches of Blue-winged Olives.
Pale Morning duns are plentiful from late May through
July. Yellow Quills are common in the fast water
sections. There are also some Dark Red Quills that
hatch near the same time. There are several other
species of mayflies. Tricos are found in some sections of
the St. Joe.
Caddisflies consist mostly of different species of Spotted
Sedges but there are plenty of Green Sedges,
Short-horned Sedges, Little Black Caddis, October
Caddis and others
Terrestrial insects are plentiful, especially ants and
beetles. Our little Japanese Beetle has proven to be a
good summertime fly selection on the St. Joe. Some
sections of the river have good populations of grass
Sculpin are very plentiful and represent the bulk of the
fish eaten by the trout. Our Brown Sculpin fly is very
popular on this stream.
Remember, the St. Joe is a freestone stream and its
flows are strictly controlled by the amount of rain and
snow the mountains get. Always check the stream levels
before traveling a good distance to fish.
The season runs year-round.
Pre-run off time can be good.
The best fishing starts just as soon as the runoff is over.
Fly fishing the St. Joe River is best during July, August
Fishing can be excellent during the early part of October.
|Type of Stream
Cutthroat Trout (Native West Slope)
Rainbow Trout (Stocked with
holdover lower section of river)
Small - Medium
Best fishing from June through
October but season is open
Catch and Release Waters extend-
over 50 miles
State of Idaho
National Weather Service Link
Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
St. Joe River Idaho
Free Shipping Continental U. S.
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
St. Joe River Fishing Report -
May 20, 2018
St. Joe River Fishing Report - Archive:
(see archive bottom of page)
Map of St. Joe River
The flows are at 10,600 cfs at
10.78 ft. This is still high, too high
to fish, but way down from last
week. Hopefully, it will continue to
drop and condition improve. Check
back with us.
01/07/14 There is some ice in the water but mostly around the banks. The water temperature
ranges from freezing to 37 degrees at the most. Midges and Winter stonefly nymphs will catch
trout under these conditions. Don't fish the fast water.
01/14/16 The weather is going to be a little warmer this week but with that comes some snow
and rain. It is in the forecast every day. That should get rid of most of the ice in the water but it
is very cold and the fish near lethargic.
01/21/16 There is a chance of rain or snow every day for the next week. It isn't that cold with
the highs reaching into the forties most days. The water temperature is a different thing. Warm
weather melts the snow along the banks and keeps the water cold. It is about 36 degrees at
01/28/16 There is heavy rain forecast for today and then snow for the next six days. The air
temperature isn't going to be above freezing after today and we expect higher stream levels.
Conditions are not very good.
02/04/16 There is snow forecast through Saturday, then clearing up and turning a little warmer.
The stream levels are in good shape and should remain that way.
02/11/16 The river is very low right now but that won't be for long. There is rain in the forecast
every day for the next week. The Brown and White Belly sculpin streamers should be good flies
to use this coming week.
02/11/16 The river is blown out at this time. Flows are 5950 at 8.29 feet. It will be a few days
before the levels subside enough to fish the river.
02/25/16 The stream level is back in good shape but the warmer weather is melting snow and
ice in the watershed and creating a mini-run off, keeping it cold and stained.
03/03/16 The river is high flowing at 2730 cfs. Normal for this time of the year is about 1430
cfs. It is dropping very slowly and you will just have to watch the levels.
03/10/16 The stream is still at 3590 cfs and 8.00 feet, so it will be some time before it drops
down low enough to fish. Normal is about 1370 cfs. You will just have to watch the levels.
03/17/16 The stream is still very high at 3990 cfs and 8.19 feet. Normal is about 1590 cfs.
Watch the levels. They should be dropping in the near future.
03/24/16 The river is even higher than last week, or blown out. It seems that is normal for this
time of the year. The flow is at 4360 cfs. Normal is about 1940 cfs.
03/31/16 The stream levels are down and fishing is very good. Skwala stoneflies, Little Brown
Stoneflies, March Browns and Blue-winged olives are hatching.
04/07/16 The good levels didn't last long. The river is back up again and the water stained.
You will have to keep a close watch on it.
04/14/16 The river continues to be very high and dirty. This isn't a good fly fishing option right
now. You will have to watch the levels and go when it clears and drops.
04/20/16 The St. Joe is high at 7560 cfs at 9.68 ft. high. It will be a while before the stream
drops down to a level worth fishing.
04/28/16 The river is back down for the first time in a while. The water is clear but still fairly
cold, or in the middle forties. Midges, BWOs, March Browns, Skwala stoneflies and sculpin are
the main foods to imitate.
05/05/16 The stream levels have been down but on the way back up with rain through
tomorrow. It will be clear through the weekend. Little Black caddis, or the Mother's day hatch, is
just getting underway. Little BWOs, Skwalas and March Browns are still hatching.
05/12/16 Stream levels are back down in much better shape with Salmonflies, Golden stones,
BWOs, March Browns, little black Caddis, Green sedges (just starting to hatch) and others.
Customers are catching some good number and the forecast even looks good.
05/19/16 The stream levels are down and in decent shape and anglers are catching trout.
There are a lot of different hatches taking place. Gray Drakes have started in addition to those
we listed for the past week.
05/26/16 Stream levels are good and should remain good for this coming week. The lower river
has hatches of PMDs and Green drakes, The upper river stoneflies and a few drakes. Two
good reports came in from customers this past week.
06/02/16 The flows are down to 2700 cfs at 7.54 ft., which means the river is in very good
shape. There are a lot of insects hatching including PMDs, Green Drakes, Spotted and Green
sedges, Little Yellow stoneflies and Golden stoneflies.
06/09/16 The stream is still in good shape with lots of trout being caught. Lots of insects are
hatching and trout are being caught on both dry flies and nymphs. The weather is going to be
just a little colder but that shouldn't make much difference at all.
06/16/16 The cooler weather didn't slow down the dry fly action very much at all. Salmonflies,
Golden Stones, Pale Morning Duns, Pale Evening Duns, Green Drakes, Spotted Sedges,
Green Sedges (both caddisflies) are hatching. Stream levels are in good shape.
06/23/16 Our customers continued to catch plenty of trout on the St. Joe this past week. The
weather forecast and stream levels look very good for the coming week. There are a lot of
aquatic insects hatching including lots of stoneflies.
06/30/16 The stream levels are in good shape and the water clear. Our customers are sending
in some very good reports. Conditions are about as good as they get right now. We hope you
get the chance to go.
07/07/16 Stream levels are down flowing at 987 cfs, and wading is possible in many section.
Trout are being caught in the lower and upper river. There are still plenty of hatches taking
place including Green Drakes, Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and three species of caddis.
07/14/16 The river continues to be in good shape with good stream levels and lots of hatches.
The best time to fish the river is late in the day, so don't make the mistake of leaving to early.
Egg laying caddis and stoneflies continue the action until dark..
07/21/16 The river is back down to the normal summer level and in good shape. There are still
some Golden stoneflies, lots of Little Yellow stones, some Green drakes and lots of Pale
Morning duns. Three species of caddisflies are hatching.
08/04/16 The stream levels are low but that makes it easy to wade. It also makes it easy to
spook the trout, so stay low and as hidden as you can. Dress to match the background. There
plenty of PMDs, Little Yellow stones and caddisflies. Late afternoon fishing (near dark) is good.
08/11/16 We received two good reports from the past week. Fishing is best very early and very
late. There are still a lot of caddis hatching and some PMDs. Terrestrials like Carpenter ants
and Japanese beetles are working good as well. Sculpin streamers are working early mornings.
08/18/15 The river continues to be in good shape with lots of trout being caught. Many anglers
are using terrestrials, such as ants, beetles and hoppers, but there are still plenty of insects
hatching, especially caddisflies. Fish early and late in the day for the best results.
08/25/16 The river is flowing a little low but our customers are reporting some good catches.
There are lots of caddisflies hatching as well as some Tricos and a few others. Terrestrial
imitations, brown and green hoppers, ants and beetles are working as well.
09/08/16 Stream levels are good and the water and weather cooler. Excellent conditions exist
for catching the cutthroats of the St. Joe. There are still a lot of caddisflies, and some mayflies
hatching and anglers are doing well with imitations of terrestrials.
09/15/16 Our customers sent in some good reports this past week. The cooler weather is
opening up a lot more water to fish. The middle section above Avery is turning out fish and the
lower river is getting in good shape as well. October caddis will begin to hatch soon.
09/29/16 October Caddis are hatching and lots of cutthroat are being caught. The stream
levels are about normal, the weather cooler and the trout very active.
10/10/16 The river is in good shape in all sections. The stream levels are normal and the
cutthroat trout eager. It is about as good as it gets.
10/27/16 High water levels continue to make fishing unporductive. The river has been high for
the past two weeks and is still running high. It is possible to float it in a larger drift boat but
that's about it. There is still a chance of rain everyday for the next week. It doesn't look good.
11/03/16 The stream levels are still very high, flowing at 2280 cfs. You will just have to watch
the stream levels to know when to fish.
11/10/16 The stream levels are at 1260 cfs at 6.59 ft. That is still high but they are falling and
should be in decent shape very soon. We didn't receive any reports from anyone fishing the
11/17/16 Flows are at 2040 cfs, at 7.14 feet which is high, to high to wade anywhere and to
swift to fish. The weather turning much colder and midges will be the best option. Watch the
levels and fish when they drop back down.
11/24/16 Stream levels are staying way too high to fish. The flows are at 2150 cfs, at 7.9 feet.
You will just have to watch the levels. The water is much colder, averaging about 43 degrees.
BWOs and midges are the only insects hatching.
12/01/16 The stream levels are still high and drift boat anglers can catch fish. The water is very
cold. Use midges, Creams and Reds, fished in tandem with the larva the bottom fly and the
pupa the top fly.
12/08/16 The USGS stream data at Calder is not accurate due to ice in the gauge. The levels
are still high but okay for drift boats. The water is very cold, in the mid to high thirties. Midges
are the only insects hatching.
12/15/16 The super cold weather and water temperature has a lot of ice on the water. We don't
recommend fishing at this time.
01/16/17 The river is still high and cold, too cold to offer any real opportunity with lots of ice in
the water. You will just have to watch the levels.
02/13/17 The water is still very cold, only 32 to 34 at the highest. There's lots of bank shelf and
slush ice in the water. We don't recommend fishing at this time.
02/29/17 The river is down to 1900 cfs at 7.05 feet. That is still too high to wade safely but it is
still falling and should be down to a normal levels soon. Midges, Creams and Reds, are still the
most important insects to imitate.
03/09/17 The river is still a little high but can be fished by boat. There is rain forecast everyday
for the next week, and even a flood advisory, so it is unlikely to remain low enough to fish.
Midges and sculpin streamers are the flies you should use.
03/23/17 The river is flowing at 12,700 cfs at 11.07 ft., blown out. Normal is about 2,000 cfs. All
you can do is check back with us and check the levels. It will take a few days for this to clear up.
04/13/17 The flows are still 6000 cfs at 9.01 ft., which is still very high. The levels are still rising
a little. All you can do is check back with us, and check the levels at the USGS station below.
04/26/17 The flows are currently at 6980 cfs at 9.61 ft. Normal is about 5580 cfs, so it is getting
down close to normal but still a little high. The water temperature is in the high forties. Skwala
and little Brown stoneflies are hatching.
05/11/17 The flows are at 9370 cfs at 10.43 ft., or extremely high and stained to muddy. In
other words, the river isn't worth fishing at these levels.
05/23/17 The flows are down a lot to 5900 cfs but this is still very high. Guides are still taking a
few xxxxx clients but they are dredging, not fishing. We don't recommend fishing at these levels.
06/08/17 The flows are at 5830 cfs at 9.16 ft. That is still high but falling and getting into better
shape. Watch the stream levels and fish when it first gets down to decent levels.
06/15/17 The level is down to 3230 cfs at 7.97 ft. That is getting near a good level and it
shouldn't be long before it can be waded in many sections. There are a lot of insects hatching.
07/03/17 The flows are down to 1280 cfs at 6.70 ft., which is very good levels that are safe to
wade in many places and our customers are sending in some very good reports. There are
multiple insect hatches taking place. Send us an email and we will provide a list of flies for you.
Great conditions exist right now.
07/17/17 Excellent conditions continue to exist. Good stream levels that are easy to wade in
many places and lots of hatches continue. All sections of the river are turning out good
numbers of trout for our customers.
08/03/17 The stream levels are in very good shape flowing just a little below normal levels. We
are getting some very good reports from wading and anglers drifting the river. There are lots of
hatches taking place.
08/10/17 The river is still in great shape with lots of trout being caught. All sections of the
stream are turning out some good fish. There are still plenty of hatches taking place.
08/17/17 The stream levels are down a little below normal but offering a lot of good wading
opportunity. There are a lot of trout being caught by our customers. Western Ginger Quills,
Little Yellow stones, BWOs, Spotted and Green sedges and others are hatching.
08/31/17 Stream levels are in good shape and lots of trout are being caught. We received two
good reports from customers fishing this past week. There are still some good hatches so don't
go to hoppers all the time.
09/08/17 The stream levels are a little low but that makes wading safe and easy. Just don't
spook the trout. We are still getting good reports from customers. Some hatches are taking
place and terrestrials are working as well.
09/22/17 The river is flowing just a little below normal levels for this time of the year. Trout are
being caught in all sections. There are some Dark Red Quills, Mahogany duns, October
Caddis, Blue-winged olives and other insects hatching.
10/26/17 The stream levels are down to normal and good numbers of trout are still being
caught. The water temperature is down and midges are hatching good. There are still some
October Caddis and Blue-winged olives are hatching fairly good..
01/21/18 Conditions are fairly good for January. The slush ice is gone. Banks have lots of
snow, but wading will give you some opportunity. Cream and Red midges and Winter stoneflies
03/21/18 The river is in good shape in all respects. It is just a little above normal levels and
clear. Cream and light Green midges are hatching along with some Winter and Skwala
stoneflies. The water is about 38 degrees.
04/06/18 The river is blown out. Check back with us.
04/22/18 The river is back down to normal stream levels for this time of the season, but still a
little high, too high to wade in many places.
04/29/8 The flows are at 9690 cfs at 10.49 ft. or very high, too high to wade or fish by boat.
Check back with us. We will keep you informed as to the status of the conditions and fishing
05/06/18 The river is flowing at 19,400 cfs at 12.82 ft. That is blown out from runoff. Check
back with us. We will keep you informed.