Dust off the fishing rod

Old man winter has finally hit the bricks, and as the temperatures creep up fish get a little more active and Idaho Fish and Game stocking trucks start delivering more fish across the state.

Maybe ol’ Saint Nick delivered a new fishing pole to a kid during Christmas, or your trusty old fishing rod has been stuck in the rafters since last year, but either way, the time is here to get out on the water and try to catch some fish.

Spring fishing is an exceptional opportunity for new or seasoned anglers wanting to get back on the water with their friends or families.

Trout are a favorite quarry in early spring because they remain active year-round, but they perk up as water starts to warm after the cold winter. Fish and Game stocks tens of thousands of trout for anglers every month, and spring and early summer are the busiest time of year for hatchery crews.

But trout aren’t the only type of fishing available. Warmwater fishing can bounce back remarkably fast with a streak of warm, sunny weather, and many other species, such as perch, crappie and bluegill, become very active during spring.

A good rule of thumb is fish like warming or stable weather during spring, but fishing tends to fall off when there’s a cold spell. With so many fishing opportunities near Idaho’s cities and towns, spring is a good chance to check out your local waters.

Not sure where to go fishing? Check out these easily accessible and regularly stocked lakes and ponds around the state.

Coeur d’Alene Lake & Chain Lakes
If you’ve never tried your hand at catching a northern pike, maybe this is the year to give it a go. April is a great month to get after them from a boat or the shoreline. At this time of year, pike can be targeted from shore by simply using a bobber and bait. Catch rates typically aren’t high in the early spring, but it is certainly when some of the biggest fish get caught. As the water warms, northern pike will more actively chase lures making them well-suited to be targeted from a boat. Pike typically take up residence in shallow bays, so check out the Chain Lakes or any of the shallow bays in Coeur d’Alene Lake to hook up with one this year.

Not into pike fishing? No problem. Coeur d’Alene Lake offers outstanding smallmouth bass fishing in the spring. And any of the 10 Chain Lakes offer good opportunity for bass, bluegill, crappie and even channel catfish in Rose Lake.

Fernan Lake
Fernan Lake lies only a stone’s throw away from Coeur d’Alene city limits, and it offers anglers the chance to catch perch, crappie, bluegill, bass, channel catfish and rainbow trout. Beginning in early-April and ending in October, Fernan Lake is stocked with nearly 25,000 catchable rainbow trout. As water temperatures warm throughout the spring and into early-summer, fishing for the assorted warmwater fish in the lake gets even better.

To sweeten the pot, docks and boat ramp access are abundant at the east and west ends of the lake and from the road that runs along the north side of the lake. Fernan Lake is a great place to cast spinners or soak bait under a bobber from the shoreline.

The Panhandle is home to plenty of lowland lakes, many of which offer great opportunities for folks looking to fish from the shoreline. Here are a few to consider:

  • Post Falls Park Pond (Kootenai County)
  • Spicer Pond (Benewah County)
  • Shepherd Lake (Bonner County)
  • Brush Lake (Boundary County)
  • Kelso Lake (Bonner County)
  • Round Lake (Bonner County)
  • Hauser Lake (Kootenai County)
  • Dawson Lake (Boundary County)

Each of these lakes has great access and offers anglers the chance to land a variety of warmwater fish species including largemouth bass, bluegill and yellow perch among others. In addition, with the exception of Shepherd and Hauser lakes, you might find a hatchery-stocked rainbow trout tugging at the end of your line. For any of these lowland lakes, you can never go wrong flinging spinners or simply soaking a worm under a bobber. To find maps to these lakes and more, use Idaho Fish and Game’s Fishing Planner.

For other regions in Idaho, click here.