First trip – North Fork CDA River

“CDA” is the abbreviation Pacific Northwest folks use for Coeur d’Alene and for fly fishers use it to refer to the river by the same name.  The CDA River is described in Wikipedia as flowing 37 miles from the Silver Valley (yes, silver mining was big here) in northern Idaho into Lake Coeur d’ Alene.  This one of the more scenic vistas along I-90 and I would highly recommend a trip to the village by the same name.  A major tributary to the CDA River is the North Fork which joins the mainstem near Kingston, ID.  A drive of ~45 miles on a paved road puts you in the heart of the Coeur d’ Alene National Forest at Big Hank Campground.

I’ve been wanting to fish the North Fork since reading about in Northwest Fly Fishing magazine.  After a little research on Google Earth I discovered that the road to the campground is paved and accessable to RVs, like my 24′ travel trailer.  I, also, discovered that it is probably one of the most popular destinations for the Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene area fly fisherman (and summer tubers).  However, the local fly shops said that in spite of the large number of users there is still plenty of water to fish in relative solitude.  This proved to be true.

Since my usual readership (all three of you) is divided between family, friends, and fly fishers, I will post pictures from my recent trip with good friend Corey O’Donnell and is father first, then include a discussion of the fishing after that.  Those poor souls of the non-fly fishing variety may avoid that detail.

Finally, while this was a fishing trip, I would strongly recommend this as a camping destination.  It is beautiful country and there is plenty of hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and, of course, river floating.  But for the latter, please use the lower river so the fishermen can have the upper river.

Camp at Big Hank Campground in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest.


North Fork behind campsite.
What did you expect?
Never like seeing those logging roads.
Large track – hoping elk and not moose.


Teepee Creek
More TeePee Creek

As for the fishing…

This was July 19-22 this year.  Weather was sunny and warm during the day with cool mornings and evenings.  We never made it out of bed before the sun was on the water (too chilly for me), which was probably unfortunate.  Fishing from ~8 to 1 was our morning attempt which was pretty much fruitless.  Chilled at camp with an early dinner then hit the campsite water around 6 or 7 until dark.  Mind you, this water was full of families and dogs all day splashing in the cool water – everyone was back at their campsites at 6 for the night.  Hatches started as soon as the sun was off the water.  The primary being a size 20-18 tan caddis, a few PMDs, some very small mayflies I didn’t bother to identify, and a few Yellow Sallies and other stoneflies.  The cutthroat were keying in on the caddis, at least, in the faster water and willing to hit my simple tan caddis pattern (tan dubbed body and blond elk hair wing).  The evening fishing was wonderful and made the trip worthwhile.

Corey and I are already talking about the next trip, either right after runoff or in the fall.  Can’t wait.



2 thoughts on “First trip – North Fork CDA River

  1. I am glad you ended up in an area where you can fish. It always seemed good for the soul for you!

    1. So true, Joan. And it is not just the fishing, but the mountains have always been a draw to me since my skiing days. We have lots of those out here.

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