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.
  • Fishing Report Sandpoint Ponderay

    Clark Fork River (ID)

    Flows out of Cabinet Gorge Dam have been between 6,000- 18,000 cfs. Clarity is around 10 feet, and water temperatures are in the low 60s. The hatches have been decent throughout the day. Look for mahogany duns, October caddis, and midges. If the trout aren’t eating the naturals, throw something wild like a #10 red hippie stomper, a #12 purple chubby chernobyl, a #10 orange crystal stimulator or a #12 black moodah poodah. Nymphs work very well this time of year, so tandem rig flies like a #12 explosion stone and a #16 purple RL copper john. Personally, fall is my favorite time of year to break out the trout spey and swing. You never know what lurks below the river’s surface. Flies like a #6 Montana mini intruder, a #8 black sculpzilla, and a #6 bald eagle move big fish this time of year. Swing the riffles, ledges, and alongside eddies.

    Lake Pend Oreille

    The lake has dropped 4 feet so far, and it still has a ways to go. Surface temperatures are in the mid-50s, and water clarity is roughly 10 feet. Pike fishing has been fair. Don’t expect to knock’em dead, but a handful of water wolves isn’t out of the question. Bring fast sinking line and slow sinking line to completely cover the water column. Look at bays, sloughs, and sharp ledges. Use flies like a red jackknife and chartreuse pike slider. Bass fishing is hit or miss. If you get on a feeding school, fishing is lights out. Use fast sinking line, and flies like a #6 Clouser, a #6 deceiver, and a #4 creek crawler. The smallies are really keying in on baitfish this time of year.

    Lake Cocolalla

    Surface temperatures are between 57-59°F, and clarity is 1 to 2 feet. You really have to bump the fish on the nose to get a grab. Luckily, the trout are actively feeding most of the day this time of year, so fishing is good. Concentrate on fishing 12 feet and shallower. There is no real need to go deeper. The rainbows and cutthroat cruise throughout the entire lake looking for midges and juvenile perch, so keep the boat moving. The browns can be found along structure like ledges and weed lines. I always bring two fly lines when I fish this lake, intermediate and fast sinking. Use flies like a #2 olive zoo cougar and a #4 rust baby gonga.

    Kootenai River

    Flows out of Libby dam are roughly 4,000 cfs, and the clarity is excellent. Now is an excellent time of year to fish the Kootenai from a boat or from shore. Reports of 15 fish days per person are fairly common. IDFG recently did a fish count on the Kootenai River and stated that there is now an average of 5,000 trout per mile. It is still very much dry fly season, so throw flies like a #10 purple chubby chernobyl, a #10 red hippie stomper, a #16 rocky mountain mint, or a #10 j-slam. These are all perfect flies to tie on an 18-inch dropper like a #14 purple prince or a #16 crust nymph bwo. Look for hatches of mahogany duns, bwos, and midges. Streamers are always a great idea too. Strip and swing a sparkle minnow, C.R.E.A.M., or dirty hippie.

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