Priest Lake, despite its storied past of record trout and prolific kokanee, has boiled down to a solid year-round fishery for 14- to 20-inch lake trout, and a few notably bigger ones.
“There’s a lot of them in the depths of the lake, and we encourage fishermen to catch them and eat them,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager.
“The ice fishery this year was phenomenal.”
During the rest of the year, he said,the lake has two types of serious anglers:
•The jiggers, who anchor or use electric motors to hold and jig with no-stretch line in 120-200 feet of water.
•The trollers, who generally use downriggers.
The mackinaw no longer have the food source to grow a lot of large fish, research shows.
“There’s plenty of older fish, but they’re just relatively small,” Fredericks said.
The minority of the lake’s macks that feed on shrimp have red meat while the macks that have learned to feed on other fish have pale meat.
However, most of the lake’s mackinaw feed on mysis shrimp and grow only about a half-inch a year, he said.
The silver lining: a 4-pound, shrimp-fed lake trout out of Priest is delicious off a grill.