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)

    The flows on the Clark Fork below Cabinet Gorge have been better in the past week. Generally, they are ranging between 4,000 and 18,000 cfs and drawn out overnight and into the mornings. Action on the Clark Fork below the dam has been slow-good most days. Reports of fish being caught on nymphs and streamers are being reported. There’s virtually no topwater action with the cold days. There’s also about 4-5 inches of snow along the Idaho/MT border today, so keep that in mind if you are walking into a spot. Expect slower than average fishing, however, midday can produce.

    Lake Pend Oreille

    The big lake is bottomed out and temperatures are around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The water clarity is about 10 feet. Fly fishing LPO in the winter months is a tough go. From now until March, there won’t be much to report on. On warmer days, look for bass and pike to follow bait up the water column along shelves. Larger swim fly patterns like game changers and dredgers fished on or near the bottom will turn fish. Also, sinking lines are a must this time of the year. Fishing won’t be super-duper, but if you find a break in the weather and can mark fish, stay patient and you’ll connect. As for trout, streamers near the surface have picked up some fish. There’s also a ton of ducks on the lake, so a cast and blast trip on the lake could be fun!

    Lake Cocolalla

    As long as Coco stays ice-free, we will continue to have decent-good fishing around the lake. Trout can be caught on flats that are 10-15 deep. Focus on the initial drop-offs along the shoreline. Throw smaller streamers. You’ll get takes on larger stuff, however, the slower and lethargic fish are short-striking. Smaller, single hook patterns are producing. Low-fat minnows, wooly buggers, balanced leeches, and complex twist buggers are the ticket right now. Using a sinking tip is a must. Start the fly at about 5-10 feet and work it all the way back to the boat. Strikes will often come only yards from the boat, so stay alert. Fishing isn’t over yet!

    Kootenai River

    If you want to break out of the pre-holiday blues, you can always try a few casts on the Kootenai. The flows are awfully high this time of year, however, if you can reach it by boat, you can find a few fish. Break out the streamer rods and sink tips or your favorite trout Spey setup. Indicator nymphing is a popular and effective technique. Load your rig with the heaviest flies on the bottom or load your rig with a couple of smaller split-shot to get down. Squirmy wormies, midges, and Pat’s rubber legs will draw fish up to strike. Definitely be aware of the flows. Don’t expect it to be a home run outing but stay persistent while you’re fishing.

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