The Saint Joes River

The road along the Saint Joes River exposes the river as you drive.

North Idaho also has one of the premier blue-ribbon trout stream in North America: the Saint Joe River. Fly-fishing for Westslope cutthroat in the catch-and-release section of this river has few equals. The river was originally named the "St. Joseph" by Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet, a Catholic priest who established a mission there.

Water runs clear over rocks on the Saint Joes River

North Idaho's St. Joe River is nationally classified as a Wild and Scenic River. This freestone river fishery offers some of the highest quality and most scenic fishing in the west.

My Hunt for October Westslope

I drove from St. Marie's east one clear, early October morning. Hunting season had opened the Saturday before and a fair number of camps were present along the lower sections of the river. Driving through the small town of Avery, it was clear the hunting crowd out-gunned the angling crowd. The upper St. Joes River running above Avery was my destination. And with hunting season as a good destraction for the locals, my expectations where riding high that I would potentially have this wild river mostly to myself.

Late morning sun light breaks through and lights the trees along the Saint Joes River

Slowly turning each curve, I glanced over to the right to scout runs and pools where native cutthroat might be holding. Several miles upstream I turned the truck around and doubled back to a spot which looked good - and fished even better. I set-up a dual nymph rig below a puffy, yellow yarn indictator. The first run, a somewhat shaded, deep channel, next to a rock ledge produced seven or eight westslope cutthroat in an hour and half of fishing. The takes came with a slow, determined pull in the cold moving water. These cutthroat showed an equal appreciation for the beadhead prince nymph and the brown bird's nest that I tied on. My October hunt was in full-swing.

16 inch Westslope Cutthroat taken on a nymph pattern