Sandpoint/Ponderay Fishing Report

North Idaho is a bass fisherman’s paradise, with lots of options for smallmouth and largemouth on large waters, like Lake Pend Orielle, and on smallish, “secret” ponds sprinkled through the area. The area offers great options for trout, too, with two great waters draining out of Montana and into Idaho, those being the Kootenai and Clark Fork rivers. In addition, small stream fishing here can bring big surprises, including chances to catch 10-pound plus trout. If you’re looking for variety, north Idaho brings it.
  • SandpointPonderay Fishing Report

    Clark Fork River (ID)

    Flows out of Cabinet Gorge Dam are currently 49,200 cubic feet per second. As we near July, I expect this river to roller coaster its way down to 30,000 cfs in a little over a week. The river is beginning to clear up. Last I heard, visibility is between 2-3 feet. This is not ideal, but okay enough to catch fish. If you’re new to the river, I would suggest waiting a week or so to start exploring. The Clark Fork is still a little big and there are several partially submerged logs, islands, and boulders aching to ruin a prop. Nymphs and streamers will be your best bet. Double nymph a #8 Large Stone, #14 red Copper John, or a #12 Dirty Bird. Streamers like #6 olive Sculpzilla work well on the swing.

    Lake Pend Oreille

    The lake is only an inch or two under the normal pool. Water clarity is between 4-5 feet near City Beach. Surface water temps range from 59-64°F. The warm weather we are forecasted to have this week will warm up the lake a couple of degrees. Most of the debris is off the lake, but there are still a few partially submerged logs floating around out there.

    Pike fishing has been pretty good. Reports of 40-inch pike sightings have been cycling throughout the flyshop. The trick is to pound the weed lines. Fishing places like Denton slough can be tough this time of year. The weeds quickly grow, and will eventually choke out the slough. Afternoons have been the best time to chase pike. Use floating line in 2-6 feet of water, and sinking line 6-15 feet. Big northerns are more than willing to eat large poppers when the lake is calm. Throw flies like Flaming Lamborghini or firetiger Pike Slider.

    Bass fishing is spotty. The smaller 1-2-pound smallmouth have been against structure along the banks in 5-10 feet of water. The larger 3+ pound bass seem to be off shore over large boulders, fallen trees, and stumps in 10-20 feet. Use fast-sinking line and flies like #6 chartreuse Clouser, blue Hud’s Bushwacker, or orange/brown Jiggy Worm.

    Lake Cocolalla

    Water visibility is between 4-5 feet. The best time of day to chase trout has been in the mornings and evenings. As mid-day approaches, the trout go deep and seem to be less active. Use intermediate line and flies like #10 olive Woolly Bugger, rust Baby Gonga, #10 black Woolly Bugger, or silver Skiddish Smolt.

    Kootenai River

    Flows out of Libby dam are currently 15,000 cfs. The river is still a little stained but clearing up more and more each day. The best access will be from a drift or jet boat. Hatches may consist of PMDs or Caddis. However, nymphs will be the best way to fish this river. Rig up a double nymph rig of flies like #8 Pat’s Rubberlegs, #12 red Copper John, #14 20 Incher, or #16 purple Lightning Bug. If the trout are looking up, throw a #10 pink Hippie Stomper, #12 purple Parachute, or #12 golden Chubby Chernobyl. Dry-dropper setup is a great way to locate feeding trout. As for streamers, chuck a #6 Sparkle Minnow or a Garbage Disposal.

    See past reports from the Sandpoint/Ponderay area here, or click here to view all northwest regional reports.