With the current heat wave, fly fishing the rivers will be best in the early morning and you’ll also see fewer recreational tubers. Many flies are working, including goldens, drakes, PMDs, caddis and Yellow Sallies. Focus on faster, well-oxygenated water.
Trout and kokanee
What a difference a week can make. Last Wednesday night at Loon Lake, two friends and I fished in winter jackets for kokanee in front of Granite Point and caught only five. Tuesday night, a friend and I fished in T-shirts and caught 20 in half the time.
Williams, Badger, Downs and Fishtrap lakes are booting out rainbow limits, and anglers are also catching kokanee at Badger.
Other lowland lakes such as West Medical, Amber and Clear are providing decent fishing. Up north, Waitts Lake remains good for rainbow and browns.
At Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith said the kokanee bite on the big lake is definitely not game-on yet. “We’re catching a few big fish, but many are around 9 inches,” he said, “and the bite has been erratic.” Smith also said the kokanee bite at Hayden has been much better and the fish are running 14-15 inches, but that fishery is usually over by mid-July.
Mackinaw fishing on Lake Pend Oreille has been good. The fish are deep. If you’re looking for numbers, troll a dodger and minisquid with a small bait of choice to sweeten the deal. For larger fish, go with plugs or herring.
Conconully Lake in Okanogan County is actually two lakes with a large state park and two resorts on the lower reservoir. The upper lake is a much bigger body of water and also has a small state park with a paved launch and room for camping.
The lake is filled with kokanee, rainbow and a ton of smallmouth bass, and fishing has been excellent. Some of the kokanee are approaching 16 inches.
Dworshak Reservoir natural resources manager Paul Pence said the lake is loaded with kokanee, mostly running 9-10 inches. These, he said, are spread out all over at about 20 feet, so when you find a school, stay with it.
Steelhead and salmon
Chinook fishing on the South Fork of the Salmon River opens Saturday and closes at the end of fishing hours on Sunday. If harvest objectives are not met on the opening weekend, it will reopen four days per week (Friday through Monday) until the season is closed by the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Walleye anglers trolling bottom bouncers report fair to good action in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt. The Lake is at full pool and a lot of boats are on the water.
The largemouth bite on Silver Lake has been good for medium-size fish. Eloika Lake is giving up some largemouth in excess of 4 pounds, but you’ll need to go weedless. Topwater frogs are good.
At Newman Lake, the largemouth are mostly in the lily pads, and so are the tiger muskies. Long, Hayden, Hauser and Clear lakes have also been mentioned recently as good largemouth destinations.
Curlew Lake perch are biting and will probably continue to do so all summer. The fish are still in 10-15 feet of water along weed edges close to shore.
Curlew also has a lot of small bass, but a big one is occasionally reported, and now and then a tiger musky.
Potholes Reservoir walleye are being caught by trolling the weed edges in 10 feet of water along the islands west of Crab Creek. Like all fishing, success is dependent on when the fish decide to bite.
Snake River smallmouth fishing has been hot, with quite a few 12- to 17-inch fish being taken in the lower part of the river.
A good offering is a smoke-colored tube jig with black pepper flakes, but crawdad imitations – either plugs or plastics – are also producing.
The pike in Lake Coeur d’Alene have been sluggish this week, but that could change at any time. Some big pike have been taken recently from the north end of Lake Pend Oreille.
In Idaho, waters that support trout, steelhead and salmon get most of the attention, but there are also a lot of warm-water species available, and they are often overlooked.
The following multispecies fisheries are some of the best the state has to offer in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions:
Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene lakes have sunfish, bullheads, bass, perch and crappie. Pend Oreille also offers walleye fishing. Fish and Game is working to keep walleye densities there low, and encourages anglers to harvest them. There are no seasons or bag limits for walleye, and there is a walleye lottery to encourage harvest.
Fernan Lake has the same species of fish as Pend Oreille and offers good amenities and bank fishing access.
The lake holds the certified weight record for green sunfish. Channel cats are biting.
Cave Lake has a reputation for producing big warmwater fish. The catch-and-release record for largemouth bass and bluegill, and the third-place catch-and-release black crappie were all caught on Cave Lake.
Upper Twin Lake has sunfish, bullheads, largemouth bass, perch and crappie, but the lake’s bullhead catfish stand out. The catch-and-release record of 13.5 inches was caught there last year.
Dworshak Reservoir has smallmouth bass and crappie. While it doesn’t offer the diversity of some of the other waters, Dworshak makes up for it by producing huge smallmouth bass, including the catch-and-release record, set last year, and the certified weight record smallmouth, caught in 2006.
Crappie fishing in Dworshak (as it is elsewhere in Idaho) is cyclic, but can be good, especially in the early summer.
Winchester Lake is a family-friendly fishing destination with sunfish, bullheads, largemouth bass, perch and crappie. Facilities include a picnic shelter, fish cleaning station, swimming beach, benches and picnic tables, and a range of camping options. Year-round, you will find good fishing, plenty of recreation activities and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Elk Creek Reservoir has good bank fishing opportunities for sunfish, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and crappie.
The east side of the reservoir provides great boat fishing opportunities where foot access is difficult.
Shad fishermen on the Columbia River are lining the banks for good action within sight of Bonneville Dam.
Y.J. Guide Service reports a good bite for catch-and-release sturgeon below Lower Granite Dam. Owner Craig Dowdy said he has been catching a lot of big ones, the largest being 9 feet long.
Sturgeon anglers on Lake Roosevelt are catching quite a few small sturgeon as well as some keepers in the vicinity of Kettle Falls.
Near Fort Spokane, the burbot fishing has been good at night, but you have to get down 170-180 feet. Use a 1-ounce jig head bait with nightcrawlers.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com