April 12, 2009 in Outdoors

Check out these kokanee hot spots

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

There may not be as many large kokanee as before, but you can still bag them in Lake Coeur d’Alene.
(Full-size photo)

Kokanee waters

 Inland Northwest fisheries for kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon) include.

Eastern Washington: Banks, Bead, Billy Clapp, Bumping, Chapman, Chelan, Cle Elum, Davis (Pend Oreille County), Deer, Deep (Sun Lakes State Park, Grant County) Horseshoe (Pend Oreille County), Keechelus, Loon, Palmer, Rimrock, Roosevelt.

North Idaho: Coeur d’Alene, Dworshak, Spirit.

Western Montana: Ashley, Little Bitterroot, Koocanusa, Mary Ronan.

Kokanee are king to many anglers, and the Inland Northwest still has a few hot spots to catch them.

Lake Coeur d’Alene should provide good fishing this year coming off an emergency early closure last fall to protect a weak year-class of spawners.

The daily catch limit is six fish, down from 25 just a few years ago.

“The fish won’t be quite as big as they’ve been the past few years, but that’s a good sign,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager. “The fact that they’re down to 10-11 inches indicates the numbers of fish are coming up again.”

The fishing begins at the south end of the lake in spring and spreads as the fish move northward.

Spirit Lake is another North Idaho kokanee favorite.

“Ice fishing on Spirit was very successful and there’s plenty of kokanee left for spring and summer fishing,” Fredericks said. “There’s a good number of fish in the 9-10 inch range, and that allows us to keep a liberal limit of 15.”

Loon Lake north of Spokane has had several years of particularly excellent kokanee fishing with fish in the 12-inch range. The state no longer stocks kokanee in the lake, leaving the fishery to natural reproduction.

Loon Lake anglers have become particularly fond of night fishing in midsummer, when they anchor in about 30 feet of water over a school of fish and jig by lantern light.

Lake Roosevelt is a big body of water for a small population of kokanee, but anglers this spring have had sprees in which they were hooking whopper silvers.

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