Video: Westslope Cutthroats on Idaho’s St. Joe

Written and filmed by: Dan Atkinson

The St. Joe River–located in the Idaho Panhandle’s St. Joe National Forest–is a 140-mile-long protected river system and according to the U.S. Forest Service, it’s one of the highest navigable rivers in the world, with a mouth elevation of just over 2,000 feet.  The upper reaches are loaded with native westslope cutthroat trout and is catch-and-release-only.  I taught my stepson Koby how to fly fish as a teen, and now that he’s in his twenties, we fish together regularly and make the trip to the Saint Joe River every year. I am thrilled to see how he has grown in the sport, especially when he makes the perfect cast to a rising fish.  I tried to capture this special place in this short fly fishing film, and the exhilaration of what it is like to see him hook up with one of these special residents. 

Check out Dan’s Youtube channel, FlyFishDan.

31 thoughts on “Video: Westslope Cutthroats on Idaho’s St. Joe”

    1. I am confident that most fly fishers have already discovered this amazing and well known fishery and will practice good stewardship when and if they decide to visit – as we do each year. Cheers!

    2. So what your saying is that Orvis or their sponsors should never say what river they are either? Dan didn’t hot spot by saying where he was on the Joe. By the way would you like some cheese with that whine? They say whine and cheese is classy.

  1. While this is a gorgeous video, please stop advertising Idaho. We are in drought conditions , our water temperatures are over 65 we are on hoot owl restrictions and tourists are slamming our waters.
    Consider long term effects of our resource.

    1. Thank you – I am confident that our fly fishing community will take the current conditions and regulations under consideration when planning a trip to this amazing fishery. The spirit of this video was to express my passion for the sport and to inspire others to get out there and discover some of these incredible places. Highlighting these fisheries on social media is good for the local economy and people that count on visitors that desire to take in it’s natural beauty and perhaps cast a fly rod. Be well and be kind- Cheers!

    1. I respectfully disagree – the Saint Joe has tight regulations that are well enforced and being a select fishery; generally are visited by people that have a passion for fly fishing and sustainability. I also believe you are missing the spirit of this video – the most wonderful thing about social media is being able to share the experience and inspire others to get out there and fly fish. Be well and be kind – Cheers!

    2. DP: Couldn’t agree more. This guy’s response is nothing more than what
      a politician would say. He clearly has an personal agenda to make a name for
      himself and can care less what affects it may have in order to achieve it. The spirit
      of the video can easily be achieved without naming and locations, but than it won’t
      attract followers, which at it’s core, is the purpose of the vid.

      1. Avery J: Respectfully – you couldn’t be more off target. This is about sharing my passion for fly fishing, teaching and inspiring others in a positive and nonjudgmental environment. A philosophy that both the Orvis company and I share; that is why they chose to highlight this video. I chose to name this river because it’s an already well-known, select and highly regulated fishery. My hope is that other passionate fly fishers will visit this amazing place, stop by the local fly shop in Avery (great fly selection btw…and hard ice cream!), maybe grab a draft beer and wood-fired pizza at TFP’s and perhaps even hire a local fly fishing guide. Be well and be kind – Cheers and FISH-ON!!

        1. You can spin and sugarcoat your ego driven endeavors all you want, they’re easy to
          see through. Bottom line is your not part of the solution, your part of the problem.

    1. Totally! Dan did a great job portraying the beauty of the Joe. Montana rivers get very high pressure and are still able to be productive fisheries. Yes people need to keep the current conditions in mind and remember to handle each fish as carefully as possible but the joe can absolutely handle additional pressure.

  2. Stunning footage of one of my favorite fisheries! Thank you for making an amazing video and Orvis for sharing it-

  3. Awesome video. Fished there years ago and still remember the great beauty of this river-
    thanks for bringing back memories. Believe that most folks that travel far to fish this will be aware of temperatures and respect the fish. Nice releases of fish. Congrats

    1. Thank you James! It really is an amazing place – and Avery has so much to offer! Quant accommodations, a well equipped fly shop (great fly selections and hard ice cream!). TFP’s has IPA’s on draft, ridiculous homemade fried chicken and joes, and wood-fired pizza. Well said James and I appreciate the support and kind comments. Cheers!

  4. Dan-just a question here. About how much time of the year do you spend in the North Idaho Panhandle?

    1. Hello Chris – not as often as I would like, but enough that I have a year-round fishing license. :))

  5. Nice film and fishery! Glad to see you and your son fishing well together, just as my Dad and I love to do too.

  6. The nay-sayers are misguided to say the least, Dan. The post-Covid explosion in outdoor activities is certainly not unique to North Idaho, and it has been welcomed by countless small businesses that depend on visitors for their livelihood. The St. Joe, as part of the National Wild and Scenic River system, has been renowned among fly fishermen for decades as one of the region’s finest fisheries. It has been heavily advertised as such by VisitNorthIdaho.com and others. Idaho Fish and Game lists the St. Joe as a Recommended Fishing Water and even has a video promoting the cutthroat fishery on the St. Joe.
    I really enjoyed your outstanding video!

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