WINTER FISHING -- Ice anglers in North Idaho should be cleaning upon the record number of mature kokanee in Spirit Lake this winter – except they can’t get to the fish.
Idaho Fish and Game Department reports from August trawling surveys say “the most abundant year class of kokanee ever documented for this lake” is swimming around virtually unscathed.
“The strong year class of one year old kokanee last year is now a record high year class of two year old kokanee,” the report said, estimating there would be more than 382,000 kokanee averaging at least 8.25 inches waiting for anglers when the ice fishing opportunities began this winter.
That pencils out to about 260 catchable-sized fish for each acre of water, or about four times as many kokanee as last year!
But the ice-fishing hasn’t happened.
“It’s a shame for ice fishermen,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager. “The east end of the lake has had enough ice for fishing on a couple of occasions, but that’s not really where the kokanee fishing is.”
The bulk of the lake has remained ice-free. Sure, the season’s open year-round and you could fish from a boat, except there’s just enough ice around the edges to thwart boat-launching.
“Maybe we still have a chance for a good cold snap to get ice fishermen out off Silver Beach or Bronze Bay – the best winter kokanee fishing places,” he said.
“If not, there will be a great kokanee fishery waiting for handliners and jiggers off the cliff at the east end this spring,” he said.