Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Copyright 2016 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 -
October 20, 2016
St. Joe River Fishing Report - Archive:
12/05/14 This is the first of a new fly fishing report for the St. Joe River in Idaho. We will be
updating this report on a regular basis. It is catch and release fishing with the season open
year-round. At this time of the year, you have to watch the water levels closely.
12/13/14 We didn't get any fishing reports from anyone this past week. Conditions are fairly
good for December, so let us hear from you.
01/13/15 Most anglers are fishing the Coeur d'Alene. You can catch fish in the St. Joe but
it is a little tough at this time of the year.
03/05/15 Conditions are not great but the river can be fished. It is still cold and high. Use
March Brown nymphs, midges and small BWO nymphs. Sculpin flies, like our Brown Sculpin
work great in this river.
03/19/15 High and off color water continues. Hopefully, things will return to normal before
03/26/15 Conditions have improved some but no reports came in from anyone fishing.
04/02/15 High water levels continue to be a problem.
05/07/15 Current levels are very good and anglers are catching trout in the middle and
lower sections. March Browns, BWOs, hatching. Get Ready for Salmonflies. Some Skwalas.
05/28/15 Still good stream levels and anglers reports of catches in lower and middle sections.
06/11/15 Still good stream levels at 1260 cfs. Two more good reports from the past two weeks.
06/18/15 More good reports. Lots of hatches including Salmonflies, Golden Stoneflies, March
Browns, Spotted Sedges, and more.
07/02/15 Great conditions with lots of insects hatching. Three different customers reporting
catching a lot of trout. PMDs are starting to hatch. .
07/09/15 Good conditions, cooler weather and two good reports from customers fishing this
07/16/15 Anglers catching lots of cutthroats and some rainbows. Lots of aquatic insects
hatching including Little Yellow stones and some Goldens.
08/06/15 Two good reports from customers fishing this past week. Lots of PMDs, Little Yellow
stones, caddis and more.
08/13/15 August is about the best month of the year to fish the St. Joe. The stream levels
are stable, water temperature in the low sixties and trout will usually take dry flies.
08/20/15 Red Flag warning on Thursday and Friday. Smoke is heavy in the area. We don't
recommend fishing at this time.
08/27/15 Smoke warnings until Saturday, then there is a chance of rain for the next four
days. Conditions would be great if it were not for the smoke.
(see archive bottom of page)
09/03/15 There's still some smoke in the area but it is much better. A few roads are closed
but most are still open. Stream levels are low but anglers are catching plenty of trout.
09/10/15 Absolutely great conditions right now, good water conditions and levels okay with
some hatches. Terrestrials are also working. Customers are giving some good reports.
09/17/15 The river remains in great shape and customers are reporting large numbers of
cutthroat trout being caught. Cooler weather in the forecast should help even more.
09/24/15 This is the kind of weather and stream levels you wait on all year. Cuttroat are being
caught by our customers in good numbers. It doesn't get any better than this. Give us a call or
email us to help you with fly selections.
10/01/15 October caddis are hatching and anglers are catching trout in good numbers.
Excellent conditions exist and should continue.
10/08/15 We didn't receive any reports from last week but conditions, stream wise and
weather, are still very good. Few anglers are fishing and that's also a big plus.
10/15/15 Two good reports from customers this past week. Excellent conditions with lots of
cutts being caught. October Caddis are at their peak bringing some to the surface..
Map of St. Joe River
10/21/15 Stream levels are still in good shape and the weather is great. October Caddis are at
the peak of their hatch and trout taking the egg layers from the surface BWOs have started to
hatch. Few anglers are fishing when conditions could be any better at this time of the year.
10/29/15 We received a very good report from a customer using our Brown Sculpin streamer
and pupa and adult October Caddis imitations. Conditions remain very good and few are
fishing. You better get it while the "gettins" good.
11/05/15 It is turning colder and Blue-winged olives and midges will be the most important
aquatic insects. Good numbers of trout are still being caught by our customers.
11/12/15 The water levels are getting a little low but the mild fall weather conditions have
provided plenty of opportunities for those that have fished. The Brown Sculpin streamer fly has
produced the best results for our customers. Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching.
11/19/15 Stream levels are good and the weather getting colder. There's a chance of rain next
Monday, otherwise clear. Streamers should continue to work okay but it is getting down to
midges and more midges.
11/29/15 Ice has the USGS station locked up but the level is fine, about 5.32 ft. The water is
very cold, about 39 and only reaching the low forties. Midges, a larva and pupa combination
fished in tandem, should be the best choice.
12/03/15 It is raining now and there is a lot more to come. That helps to warm the water back up
some but it will cause high water levels. There is a chance of rain everyday for the next week.
Lots of ice chunks in the river and it is headed up fast and high right now. This will take a while
to clear back up.
12/10/15 The river has finally dropped down to normal levels for this time of the year. The water
is cold, only in the high thirties to low forties. Midges and Winter stoneflies are what you need to
be imitating. The Brown Sculpin streamer is also a good choice.
The river has been high for the
past week 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.
12/17/15 The water is much colder, in the high thirties to the low forties, than it has been.
Midges and Winter stoneflies are the only insects you need to be imitating. The Brown Sculpin
streamer has been catching the larger trout recently.
12/24/15 The water has gotten very cold, averaging in the mid to high thirties. The fishing is
very slow because of it. We're not saying you can't catch trout, but it is not easy to say the
least. Midges and Winter stonefly nymphs will work.
12/31/15 It isn't going to be quite as cold as it was last week, so the water temperature may be
a couple of degrees better. Midges, larva and pupa fished in tandem, and Winter stonefly
nymphs would be the best choice of flies.
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.