Dworshak Reservoir is emerging as a top destination for kokanee anglers this year.
More than a million fish are in the current two-year-old year class targeted by anglers – that’s five times more than last year.
“There’s a whole lot of them out there,” said Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston. “They’re already running 8-9 inches in April, so we’ll be seeing some 11 inches or more in July.
“They’ll be a little smaller this year because of the density of fish.”
Dworshak, a 54-mile-long reservoir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River northeast of Orofino, is among the very few fisheries that still offer a 25-fish daily limit and a 50-fish possession limit.
This will be the fourth year of a five-year pilot project to fertilize Dworshak’s clear waters in an attempt to stimulate more natural food production for kokanee.
“We’re clearly seeing the fish are heavier, but we won’t fully evaluate the program until after next year,” he said.
“This will be the first year we should see the full impacts all the way up to the kokanee at the top of the food chain.”
Spirit Lake is the Panhandle’s best bet for a bunch of kokanee. The lake has good numbers of 9- to 11-inch fish this year. The daily limit is 15. Jigging and trolling are popular here.
Lake Coeur d’Alene, which has recovered over the past 3 years, has a six-fish limit. “Anglers shouldn’t have too much trouble finding good schools of 9- 11-inch fish,” said Jim Fredericks, Panhandle region fish manager. The limit could be increased next year.
Lake Pend Oreille kokanee also are recovering, but they’re not quite to the point of allowing anglers to harvest them, Fredericks said.
“To help the kokanee population rebuild, we’ll be continuing the Angler Incentive Program where anglers are paid $15 for heads from every lake trout or rainbow trout over 13 inches from Pend Oreille. We’ll also be using the commercial netting gear this spring and next fall to remove lake trout.”
Brush, Smith, Lower Twin and Mirror lakes are stocked with low densities of kokanee. The few fish a troller is likely to hook tend to be larger, up to 15 inches.