Northern pike tend to be the first species to become active each spring in Idaho Panhandle waters.
Top pike fishing lakes include Coeur d’Alene, Fernan, Twin, Spirit and Hayden. Many anglers are fond of Cave, Killarney and Medicine lakes along the lower Coeur d’Alene River.
This is the period in which big pike come into shallows and become vulnerable. Most anglers cast from shore with a dead smelt, herring or skinned perch fished close to the bottom under a bobber in the bays, such as Cougar, Mica, Wolf Lodge, Neachen (formerly Squaw Bay), Blue Creek, Rocky Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Severe drawdowns to make room for this year’s heavy runoff have left many of the bays on the verge of being too low for good fishing so far this spring. That could change any day.
But too much runoff will muddy the water and turn off the bite.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes between Heyburn and Harrison provides some non-motorized access to a few pike-fishing hotspots.
Large spinners, spoons, Rapala and similar lures and plugs can be effective, too, especially when the waters warm a bit. Normally that’s mid-April, but this year isn’t normal.