With the snowpack at near-record depths in North Idaho’s mountains, such outstanding cutthroat streams as the St. Joe, Coeur d’Alene, Selway and Lochsa may be too high and murky to fish until July.
In past years, the streams have been low and clear enough to fish by late May and early June.
Even some lakes will be higher than usual.
Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologist in Coeur d’Alene, said the St. Joe should continue as one of the most outstanding cutthroat streams in Idaho.
Large numbers of cutthroat have moved down from the catch-and-release section to areas where anglers can keep a few fish. Fredericks said some fishermen believe fishing may be better there than in the catch-and-release section, which attracts tremendous numbers of anglers.
The Coeur d’Alene River is expected to produce fair fishing early in the year. When the water drops and becomes warm, the cutthroat will move to tributaries where they can find cooler water. Consequently, the best fishing will be just after the river drops low enough to fish.
Chinook salmon fishing at Lake Coeur d’Alene should be excellent this year. Some big year classes will be available to trollers.
Anglers will hook more 2- and 3-year-old chinooks this year than during the last couple of years. The 2-year-olds will be 7 to 10 pounds by mid-summer; the 3-year-olds will be 12 to 18 pounds.
Fredericks said kokanee fishing will be excellent at Lake Coeur d’Alene. Fish will be 7 to 8 inches and 8 to 9 inches by mid-summer.
It’s difficult to predict how good fishing will be for trophy-sized rainbows at Lake Pend Oreille this year, he said. Fishing was mediocre last year. It may be a bit better this year.
Pend Oreille has been providing fair to good fishing for large Dolly Varden and mackinaw trout. Fishing for kokanee will be fair and possibly good at times. Kokanee populations have been low the last few years.
Priest Lake will continue to churn out small mackinaw trout. Fredericks said the average size of the macks will be 20 to 22 inches. Fishing for them has been heavy the last few years. Only a small percentage of macks will weigh more than 10 pounds.
Pike fishing will be fair to good at several Panhandle lakes, he said. Anglers did well fishing through ice at Lake Coeur d’Alene and at a couple of lakes along the lower Coeur d’Alene River drainage.
Fishing for cutthroat at Hayden Lake may be poor. Numerous cutthroat were lost through the outlet the last few weeks. Anglers caught a high percentage of them.
As usual, the Fish and Game Department will release trout into numerous lakes this spring and summer, he said. Among the most popular are Hauser, Fernan, Mirror, Round and Smith.
Some fishermen will go for trophy-sized tiger muskies in several lakes, including Hauser and Dawson. Hauser is believed to hold the biggest muskies.