Unleash your inner angler and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the picturesque lakes of Idaho. With expert tips, tricks, and insights, discover the secrets to successful fishing as you immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Idaho’s lakes. Get ready to reel in memorable catches and create stories that will be shared for years to come.
Best Fishing Lakes in Idaho
Here are some of the best fishing lakes in Idaho
- Lake Coeur d’Alene: Known for its large population of Chinook salmon, steelhead, and rainbow trout, Lake Coeur d’Alene offers excellent fishing opportunities. The lake also provides scenic views and a variety of other recreational activities.
- Priest Lake: Located in the northern part of Idaho, Priest Lake is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. It is home to various fish species, including Mackinaw (lake trout), kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass.
- Payette Lake: Situated near McCall, Payette Lake is a picturesque lake that offers great fishing experiences. Anglers can find a variety of fish species such as rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass.
- Henrys Lake: Located in eastern Idaho, Henrys Lake is renowned for its trophy trout fishing. Anglers can expect to catch large cutthroat trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout in this beautiful lake.
- Dworshak Reservoir: As one of the largest reservoirs in Idaho, Dworshak provides excellent fishing opportunities. It is known for its abundant populations of smallmouth bass, kokanee salmon, and rainbow trout.
- Lake Pend Oreille: Nestled in the northern part of Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille is the state’s largest lake and offers diverse fishing opportunities. Anglers can target species such as rainbow trout, lake trout (Mackinaw), and smallmouth bass.
These lakes are just a few examples of the many fantastic fishing spots Idaho has to offer. Each lake has its own unique charm and characteristics, making them worth exploring for any avid angler.
Species of Fish Can You Catch While Fishing Idaho Lakes
While fishing in Idaho lakes, you can catch a variety of fish species. Here are some common fish species you may encounter:
- Rainbow Trout: Rainbow trout are one of the most popular game fish in Idaho. They are known for their beautiful colors and strong fighting ability. Many lakes in Idaho are stocked with rainbow trout, providing ample opportunities for anglers.
- Cutthroat Trout: Cutthroat trout are native to Idaho and can be found in various lakes and rivers. They are prized for their delicious taste and can offer a thrilling fishing experience.
- Lake Trout (Mackinaw): Lake trout, also known as Mackinaw, can be found in larger, deeper lakes of Idaho. They are known for their large size and can provide a challenging fight for anglers.
- Kokanee Salmon: Kokanee salmon are landlocked sockeye salmon that populate several Idaho lakes. They are known for their vibrant red color and are highly sought after by anglers.
- Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth bass can be found in many lakes and reservoirs in Idaho. They are known for their aggressive nature and provide an exciting fishing experience.
- Largemouth Bass: While less common than smallmouth bass, largemouth bass can also be found in certain Idaho lakes. They prefer warmer waters and offer an enjoyable fishing opportunity.
- Perch: Perch are commonly found in Idaho lakes and provide a fun fishing experience, especially for beginners and young anglers.
- Panfish: Various species of panfish, such as bluegill and crappie, can also be found in Idaho lakes. They are typically smaller in size but offer good action and are suitable for recreational fishing.
It’s important to note that the availability of fish species may vary depending on the specific lake and its ecosystem. Fishing regulations and seasons should also be followed to ensure sustainable fishing practices.
Best Time of Day and Months for Idaho Lake Fishing
The best time of day and months for Idaho lake fishing can vary depending on the specific lake, weather conditions, and the target fish species. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:
Time of day:
- Early Morning and Late Evening: Many anglers find that the hours around sunrise and sunset can be particularly productive for fishing in Idaho lakes. During these times, the water is often calmer, and fish tend to be more active near the surface.
Time of year:
- Spring: Spring months, particularly April and May, can be excellent for fishing in Idaho lakes. As the ice melts and temperatures rise, fish become more active and begin feeding more aggressively. Spring can be a prime time for catching trout, including rainbow trout and cutthroat trout.
- Summer: Summer months, especially June, July, and August, offer plenty of fishing opportunities in Idaho lakes. Early mornings and evenings can still be productive, but fishing during the cooler parts of the day can be more comfortable. During summer, fish like bass, panfish, and kokanee salmon are often more active.
- Fall: Fall can be a fantastic time for fishing in Idaho lakes, particularly in September and October. As the water cools down, fish become more active in preparation for the winter months. Fall can be an excellent time for trout fishing, as well as targeting species like bass and salmon.
- Winter: While winter fishing in Idaho lakes can be more challenging due to freezing conditions, ice fishing is a popular activity in some lakes. It typically takes place from December to February when the lakes freeze over, and anglers drill holes in the ice to access the fish below.
It’s important to note that local fishing regulations and restrictions may apply, including specific seasons, catch limits, and bait restrictions. Always check with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game or local authorities for the most up-to-date fishing information.
Best Gear for Fishing Idaho Lakes
When it comes to fishing in Idaho lakes, there are a few essential gear items that can enhance your fishing experience. Here are some recommendations for the best gear for fishing in Idaho lakes:
- Fishing Rod and Reel: Choose a medium to medium-heavy rod and baitcasting reel combo for versatility. A 6 to 7-foot rod with fast or medium-fast action is suitable for casting a variety of lures and handling different fish species.
- Fishing Line: Opt for a high-quality monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line with a test strength appropriate for the fish species you’re targeting. A line strength of 8 to 12 pounds should suffice for most lake fishing scenarios.
- Lures and Baits: Pack a selection of lures and baits that are known to be effective in Idaho lakes. This can include spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, soft plastic worms, and live bait such as nightcrawlers or minnows.
- Tackle Box: Use a sturdy tackle box to store and organize your fishing tackle. Make sure it has compartments and dividers to keep your hooks, sinkers, lures, and other accessories neatly separated and easily accessible.
- Fishing Hooks: Carry a variety of hooks in different sizes to accommodate different bait presentations and fish species. Sizes 2 to 4 for smaller fish and sizes 1/0 to 3/0 for larger species like bass or trout are commonly used.
- Fishing Nets: A landing net with a wide hoop and a long handle can be useful for safely landing and releasing fish. Look for a net with knotless mesh to minimize damage to the fish’s scales and fins.
- Polarized Sunglasses: Invest in a pair of polarized sunglasses to reduce glare and enhance your vision in the water. They will help you spot fish, underwater structures, and other potential fishing spots more easily.
- Fishing Pliers: Carry a pair of sturdy fishing pliers to help you remove hooks, cut fishing lines, and handle fish safely. Look for pliers with built-in line cutters and rust-resistant materials.
- Fishing Tackle Bag: Consider a tackle bag or backpack to carry your gear comfortably. Look for a bag with multiple compartments, adjustable shoulder straps, and waterproof features to protect your equipment from the elements.
- Fishing Accessories: Don’t forget to pack other essential fishing accessories such as extra hooks, sinkers, bobbers, a line cutter, a fishing hat, sunscreen, and a first aid kit.
Remember to check local regulations and licensing requirements before fishing in Idaho lakes. Additionally, consider the specific fish species you’re targeting to tailor your gear selection accordingly.
Best Baits and Lures for Idaho Fishing Lakes
Using the right baits and lures can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are some recommendations for the best baits and lures for fishing in Idaho lakes:
- PowerBait: PowerBait is a popular and effective bait for trout fishing in Idaho lakes. It comes in various colors and scents and can be easily molded onto a hook. Popular colors include chartreuse, rainbow, and garlic scents.
- Salmon Eggs: Fresh or cured salmon eggs are a natural bait that can attract trout and other fish species. They can be used on a single hook or as an addition to other bait setups.
- Worms: Nightcrawlers or red worms are versatile baits that can be effective for a wide range of fish species, including trout, bass, and panfish. Rig them on a hook alone or in combination with other baits.
- Spinners: Mepps Aglia, and Blue Fox spinners are popular choices for trout and bass fishing in Idaho lakes. They imitate small fish or insects and create attractive vibrations in the water.
- Crankbaits: Crankbaits are effective for targeting predatory fish like bass, pike, and walleye. Choose diving depths and colors that match the water conditions and the prey fish in the lake.
- Jigs: Jigs in various sizes and colors can be effective for targeting a wide range of fish species. Pair them with soft plastic grubs, twister tails, or minnow imitations for added attraction.
- Soft Plastic Baits: Soft plastic worms, grubs, and creature baits can be rigged on a jighead or Texas-rigged to entice bass, trout, and other fish species. Choose colors that mimic local forage.
- Topwater Lures: Surface lures like poppers, buzzbaits, and walking baits can be exciting to use in Idaho lakes, especially for bass and panfish. They create enticing commotion and can trigger aggressive strikes.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of baits and lures can vary depending on the specific lake and fish species you are targeting. It’s a good idea to research local fishing reports, talk to local anglers, and experiment with different baits and lures to find what works best.
Best Guides and Charters for Fishing in Idaho Lakes
There are several excellent guides and charters available for fishing in Idaho lakes. These experienced professionals can help enhance your fishing experience and increase your chances of success. Here are some well-regarded guides and charters for fishing in Idaho lakes:
- Snake River Adventures (Hells Canyon): Snake River Adventures offers guided fishing trips on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. They specialize in fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and smallmouth bass.
- Silver Creek Outfitters (Sun Valley): Silver Creek Outfitters provides guided fly fishing trips in the Sun Valley area. They offer expert guides who can assist with fly selection, casting techniques, and finding the best fishing spots.
- Teton Valley Lodge (Driggs): Teton Valley Lodge offers guided fly fishing trips on the Teton, South Fork of the Snake, and Henry’s Fork rivers. They cater to both beginners and experienced anglers and provide access to some of the best trout fishing in the region.
- Row Adventures (Coeur d’Alene): Row Adventures provides guided fishing trips on Lake Coeur d’Alene, targeting species such as trout, bass, and kokanee salmon. They offer both half-day and full-day fishing charters.
- Reel Time Fishing (Lewiston): Reel Time Fishing offers guided fishing trips on the Clearwater River and Snake River near Lewiston.
- Bear Valley Outfitters (McCall): Bear Valley Outfitters offers guided fishing trips on various lakes in the McCall area, including Payette Lake and Lake Cascade. They target species such as trout, bass, and kokanee salmon.
- Salmon River Experience (Riggins): Salmon River Experience provides guided fishing trips on the Salmon River, targeting salmon, steelhead, and smallmouth bass.
When choosing a guide or charter, consider factors such as their reputation, experience, knowledge of the local waters, and customer reviews. It’s also a good idea to inquire about their fishing techniques, equipment provided, and any additional services they offer.
Popular Fishing Tournaments and Events in Idaho Lakes
Idaho is home to several popular fishing tournaments and events that attract anglers from near and far. Here are some notable fishing tournaments and events held in Idaho lakes:
- The Idaho Angler’s Snake River Cutthroats Classic: This annual fishing tournament takes place on the Snake River and focuses on catching native cutthroat trout.
- Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby: Held on the Clearwater River and Snake River, this derby is dedicated to steelhead fishing.
- Lake Cascade Perch Assault: Lake Cascade hosts the Perch Assault, an ice fishing tournament focused on catching perch.
- Priest Lake Mack Days: Priest Lake in northern Idaho is home to the Mack Days fishing event. Anglers target lake trout (Mackinaw) during the designated fishing period and compete for prizes based on the longest fish caught.
- Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby: The Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby is an annual event that draws anglers to Lake Coeur d’Alene. Participants compete in various categories, including kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and Mackinaw, with cash prizes awarded to the winners.
- Brownlee Bass Blast: This bass fishing tournament takes place on Brownlee Reservoir, a popular bass fishery in southwestern Idaho.
- Ponderosa Days Fishing Derby: Held during the Ponderosa Days celebration in McCall, this fishing derby focuses on trout fishing in local lakes and rivers.
These are just a few examples of the fishing tournaments and events held in Idaho lakes. It’s recommended to check with local fishing organizations, chambers of commerce, or the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for the most up-to-date information.
Fishing Regulations and Licenses for Idaho Lakes
It’s important to be aware of the fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses to comply with state laws and regulations. Here’s an overview of fishing regulations and licenses for fishing in Idaho lakes:
- Fishing License: To fish in Idaho lakes, anglers aged 14 and older are required to have a valid fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website or from authorized license vendors across the state.
- Fishing Seasons and Limits: Idaho has specific fishing seasons and limits for different fish species and lakes. It’s crucial to be aware of these regulations, including open and closed seasons for certain species, size limits, and daily bag limits.
- Special Rules and Restrictions: Some lakes in Idaho have special rules and restrictions that anglers must follow. These can include bait restrictions, gear limitations, and specific fishing methods allowed. Make sure to check for any special rules or restrictions that may apply to the lake you plan to fish in.
- Catch-and-Release Practices: Idaho promotes catch-and-release practices to conserve fish populations and ensure sustainable fisheries. It’s encouraged to handle fish with care, use proper equipment for catch-and-release, and release undersized or protected fish species unharmed.
- Invasive Species Prevention: To prevent the spread of invasive species, anglers must follow specific regulations regarding the transportation and use of live bait, as well as the cleaning and disposal of fish carcasses.
It’s important to note that fishing regulations and license requirements can change, so it’s always a good idea to check the current regulations and license information from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game before you go fishing.
Best Places to Stay for Idaho Lake Fishing
There are several great places to stay that offer convenient access to fishing areas and provide comfortable accommodations. Here are some recommended places to stay for Idaho lake fishing:
- Coeur d’Alene: Located on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, this city offers a range of lodging options, including lakeside resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals. It provides easy access to Lake Coeur d’Alene’s excellent fishing opportunities for species like kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass.
- McCall: Situated near Payette Lake in central Idaho, McCall is a popular destination for fishing and outdoor recreation. The town offers a variety of accommodations, including resorts, lodges, cabins, and campgrounds.
- Sandpoint: Nestled on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint offers scenic beauty and diverse fishing opportunities. Visitors can find a range of accommodations, including resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals.
- Priest Lake: Located in the northern part of Idaho, Priest Lake is a pristine lake surrounded by beautiful wilderness. There are various lodging options available, including resorts, cabins, and campgrounds.
- Stanley: Situated near the Salmon River and surrounded by the Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley is a scenic destination with access to numerous lakes and rivers. Visitors can choose from lodges, cabins, or campgrounds.
- Cascade: Cascade is a small town near Lake Cascade, which is known for its excellent fishing. Accommodation options include hotels, cabins, and campgrounds. Lake Cascade provides opportunities for fishing trout, bass, and perch.
- Lava Hot Springs: This charming town is known for its natural hot springs and is located near the Portneuf River. Fishing enthusiasts can find lodging options such as hotels, motels, and cabins.
These are just a few examples of the best places to stay for Idaho lake fishing. Each location offers its unique fishing opportunities and amenities.
Tips and Tricks for Successful Fishing in Idaho Lakes
Here are some tips and tricks to help you have a successful fishing experience in Idaho lakes:
- Research the Lake: Before heading out to fish in an Idaho lake, take the time to research the specific lake you plan to fish. Look for information on the types of fish that inhabit the lake, their feeding habits, and preferred habitats.
- Check Fishing Reports: Stay updated on fishing reports for the lake you intend to fish. Fishing reports provide valuable information on recent catches, bait preferences, and fishing techniques that are currently effective.
- Use the Right Baits and Lures: Select baits and lures that are known to be effective for the target species in the lake. Research local recommendations or consult with local tackle shops to determine the best options.
- Observe the Water and Structure: Pay attention to the water conditions and the lake’s structure. Look for areas with submerged rocks, weed beds, drop-offs, or other underwater structures that can attract fish.
- Practice Stealth and Patience: When fishing in clear or shallow waters, it’s important to approach quietly and avoid making sudden movements that could spook the fish. Additionally, be patient and persistent.
- Vary Your Techniques: Don’t be afraid to try different fishing techniques. If one method isn’t producing results, switch to a different technique such as trolling, casting, or jigging. Vary your retrieve speed, depth, and presentation to find what triggers the fish to strike.
- Pack Essential Gear: Bring essential fishing gear such as extra lines, hooks, sinkers, pliers, a landing net, and a tackle box with a variety of options. Additionally, don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, sunglasses, and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.
- Enjoy the Experience: Fishing is not only about catching fish but also about enjoying the experience and being in nature. Take in the beautiful surroundings, appreciate the wildlife, and savor the moments spent on the water.
Remember, fishing can be unpredictable, and success is not always guaranteed. However, by applying these tips and tricks, you can improve your chances of having a productive and enjoyable fishing trip in Idaho lakes.
In conclusion, fishing in Idaho lakes offers a rewarding experience for anglers. By researching the lakes, using the right techniques and gear, and respecting fishing regulations, you can increase your chances of success. So, head out to the beautiful Idaho lakes, enjoy the serenity of nature, and create lasting fishing memories.
Meet Nic Armitage, a devoted outdoors enthusiast with an insatiable love for fishing, boating, and a wide range of adventurous activities. His passion for the great outdoors knows no bounds. Nic is your trusted guide into the world of nature, sharing his experiences and expertise on the Shaman Mountain Sports and Outdoors Blog.