Although they’re generally small, panfish – perch, bluegills and crappie – are among the tastiest morsels swimming in the region’s lakes.
Spokane region top panfishing lakes include Eloika, Bonnie, Downs, Liberty, Newman and Bear Lake, which is off Highway 2 and open only to youth and disabled anglers.
Coffeepot Lake has a big perch population, but the lake’s selective fishery regulations prohibit anglers from using bait at Coffeepot. Don’t let that shy you off: A small baitless jig or a Bionic Worm fly pattern fished the right depth under a bobber will bring in the perch.
Sprague Lake’s reintroduced bluegill and crappie fisheries are maturing to good sizes this year, but the numbers aren’t what biologists expected them to be after the 2009 lake rehabilitation. Largemouth bass also are coming on in Sprague, but the trout fishery is likely to continue to be the lake’s highlight at least for this spring, biologists say.
“After the 1985 lake rehabilitation, the panfish boomed in Sprague,” said John Whalen, noting that they’re not repopulating as fast this time around.
“But there’s a good chance that anglers will find good panfishing in Sprague by this fall,” he said.
Idaho Panhandle lakes have excellent year-round panfishing.
Bluegills are prolific at Rose, Kelso, Robinson, Rush and Avondale lakes while good size perch to 10 inches catch angler attention at Cocolalla.