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)

    Lately, the flows have bounced between 17,000 cubic feet per second and 28,000 cfs once or twice a day. Seems like Kerr Dam at Flathead Lake is increasing flows to ready for winter and spring runoff. This means we can expect “consistent” high flows for at least another week. On the bright side, the Clark Fork has been running clear and fishable. When I hit the river this time of year I am hoping to catch one, maybe two trout. Metabolisms are slow, so go low and slow with your flies. Use a 10-foot fast-sinking sink-tip if you are swinging hot flies like a #6 Slump Buster in olive or a #6 Montana Mini Intruder. If nymphing is your gig, try a #16 red Copper John, a #18 Prince Nymph, or a #18 Zebra Midge. Be sure to use split-shot, and really work the slow-moving runs.

    Lake Cocolalla

    The lake is still wide open with ice nowhere in sight. The weather forecast is calling for close to a week of below freezing nights, so ice will start to accumulate. Water clarity is still a little tough. The water is a dark greenish color, making it difficult to see past three feet. The warmwater species are near the bottom in winter staging areas. I found crappie, perch, largemouth, and smallmouth yesterday schooled up in 30-35 feet of water. Unfortunately, that is a little deep for a fly rod. Now, there are very few trout rising on the surface. Most of the trout I metered with the fishfinder were between 15-30 feet. Still catchable, but tough. A #6 olive Woolly Bugger or a rust Baby Gonga should work for those trout cruising higher in the water column.

    Kootenai River

    The discharge coming out of Libby Dam is 25,300 cfs. I have heard the closer you are to Bonners Ferry, the dirtier the water. Otherwise, the river is very fishable. A great way to effectively fish is to strip or swing streamers, like #6 Sparkle Minnow Smoke and #2 Dolly Llama in dark-olive or white, through long runs until a midge hatch starts. Once the midge hatch starts, delicately present a #20 Hatching Midge with a #22 red Disco Midge as a dropper with 18-inches of 5X or 6X tippet. If the hatch doesn’t pan out, nymph a #16 purple Lightning Bug with a #18 Crust Nymph BWO. Use nine or 10 foot 5X leaders. Bring split-shot, and really work the slow-moving runs.

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