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)

    Recently, flows have bounced between 25,000 to 35,000 cubic feet per second. Water clarity has a stain to it, but remains fishable. This is fine if you have a jet-boat and know the river better than the back of your hand. If you’re only access is from the bank, fishing is going to be tough. Fishing has been good, but not great. Still waiting to hear a report of double digit trout numbers. Midges have been hatching mid-day in large numbers on the upper stretches of the river, along with very few Mother’s Day caddis. Dry flies to try include #12 brown Elk Hair Caddis, #14 Purple Haze, and #18 Griffith’s Gnat. Double nymph a #10 DB Stone, #14 red Copper John, or a #12 Squirmie Wormie. The cutthroat simply can’t resist those. Swing a #6 black Balanced Leech, #6 Stinging Smolt, or a Copper Trout Slider through long runs you suspect hold trout.

    Lake Pend Oreille

    The lake has come up one foot in the past week. Water clarity is great, and surface temperatures range from 39-42ºF. Big smallmouth are starting to bite flies between 3-10 feet of water, and are currently in pre-spawn mode. You may not catch big numbers of bass, but the quality will make the wait well worth it. Use a 6 weight rod rigged with intermediate or fast sinking line to correctly present your fly. Flies like #2 chartreuse Clousers, Hud’s Bushwacker Bluegill, and orange Deep Creek Crawlers will hunt slab smallies. The big northern pike should be on the edge of pre-spawn/spawn with water temps reaching above 40ºF. Denton Slough was a hotspot last year for giant pike, and I would expect it to be great again this year. Bring an 8 weight rod rigged with an intermediate fly line and slowly present those large flies to the curious pike. Toss flies like a red Jacknife or Dougie’s Yellow Perch and let the feeding frenzy begin.

    Lake Cocolalla

    Visibility is between 3-4 feet. Honestly, I consider this good for Cocolalla. Fishing has been decent, but not great. Everyone who fishes the lake seems to be finding trout, just not in great numbers. Most of the trout I have found were in 3-10 feet of water feeding on perch-like patterns. So bring your 6-weight rigged with an intermediate line, and throw flies like #6 Conehead Krystal Buggers, #6 Thinmints, or rust Baby Gongas. The trout are pretty well scattered throughout the lake, so keep the boat moving.

    Kootenai River

    Flows have been holding around 4,000 cfs for over a week now with water temps roughly around 37ºF out of Libby Dam. These are optimal wading conditions. If you don’t have access to a driftboat, get on the water while you still can! Expect water clarity to be slightly stained due to the swift running tributaries. The only hatches to report are Baetis and midges on warm afternoons. Some dries that might do the job include #10 olive Chubby Chernobyl, #14 Purple Haze, #18 Film Critic BWO, and #18 Griffith’s Gnat. If it looks like the hatch isn’t going to happen, tie on nymphs like #8 purple Pat’s Rubberlegs, #10 DB Stone, #16 red Copper John, or #18 purple Lightning Bug. You will want a split shot or two 8-10 inches above your first nymph to help drive those bugs down. Want to break out the spey and swing for a once-in-a-lifetime trout? Bring a variety of sink-tips and tie on a white Complex Twist, olive Dolly Llama, or Halloween Cheech Leech. Keep in mind the stretch from the Libby dam to the Highway 37 bridge is closed to fishing until June 1.

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