The Panhandle’s main rivers, as well as local streams, have warmed up significantly this month, pushing fish into cool, deep runs and to the mouths of seeps and tributaries. Anglers may find the fish don’t bite much, and that the cooler hours at the edge of the day are more productive than between breakfast and supper time.
Bud Frasca of Northwest Classic Tackle in Hayden said the best time to fish is when it’s cool.
“Fish early mornings and evenings, before dark,” Frasca said.
Despite high daytime temperatures and warming water that makes them less active, fish still need to eat. Casting crickets, ants and hoppers is an angler’s best bet.
Both the Coeur d’Alene River and the St. Joe are fishing well. Ryan Allen of Orvis Northwest Outfitters said. He also recommended throwing terrestrials to the river’s cutthroat in the early hours, or late afternoons.
“It’s pretty good, as long you find the cold spots,” he said.
Pale morning duns and blue winged olives worked well during Allen’s four-day fishing trip on the Coeur d’Alene River that he spent around the Kitt Price and Devil’s Elbow areas, he said.
Fishing before and after the tubers made fishing more enjoyable, he said.
“Avoiding the floaters is the name of the game,” he said.
Lake Coeur d’Alene
Kokanee fishing is heating up on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Jordan Smith at Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service said. Many anglers have been landing kokanee between 14 and 16 inches, which is much bigger than average.
“That’s a pretty rare thing on Lake Coeur d’Alene,” he said.
Anglers are using traditional kokanee pop gear with wedding rings tipped with pink corn.
The corn is key.
“That’s been the hot thing for them,” Smith said.
Throwing spinner baits at northern pike in the morning and evenings has been productive for the toothy predators, and bass are also being caught in the cooler hours using drop shots and robo worms.
The Panhandle’s warmer, shallower lakes are still producing panfish. Try crappie jigs.
With more than 1,800 fishable alpine, or high mountain lakes in the state, many of them in the Panhandle, North Idaho anglers who want a cooler getaway may head into the high country carrying light spin gear and fly rods. Spinners or small jigs tend to be the go-to lures in alpine lakes and fly gear should include a variety of nymphs — including midge larvae, small streamers such as leach patterns, and dries. Many of the lakes are stocked with fish by the Fish and Game department and all of them require driving into the Panhandle National Forest to a trailhead and then hiking. Hiking trails usually begin in the cool and shaded valley forests and quickly gain in altitude.
“Anglers willing to hit the trail into the backcountry have a chance to experience some incredible fishing in some of Idaho’s most pristine and beautiful scenery,” Martin Koenig of Idaho Fish and Game said. “There are usually a variety of cutthroat, rainbow, or brook trout willing to take a fly or lure.”
Some Panhandle mountain lakes offer the chance at golden trout or arctic grayling.
Check the Idaho Fish and Game website under the Idaho Fishing Planner tab.