By: Uncle Bud

Hardwater at last! Yes, after a two year hiatus of limited to no ice we now have a great ice platform throughout the North Idaho Panhandle.

Given the arctic front(s) and limited snow (well, relatively limited in most places) appears we have a good solid platform of ice to take us through late March … if we behave that is.

Winter Crappie…Photo by S. Jamsa

Phil Cooper out of our Regional Fish & Game office in Coeur d’Alene released a winter fishing summary by lake noting the species waiting for you on your ice fishing adventure this year. Before we get to Phil’s report here is another winter fishing item of interest for your list:

ICE FISHING “HARDWATER CLINIC
(The one we cancelled last Saturday)Is rescheduled for this coming Saturday January 22 at 10:30 a.m. at Far North Outfitters in Bonners Ferry (Across the street from Les Schwab.)

Same as reported earlier … this clinic is for novice and expert ice fishermen alike … young and old.

Regional Fisheries Manager Ned Horner, will give a presentation featuring equipment, biology of fish in the winter, how to read the ice, and will discuss different baits and how to catch those winter fish.

Ice fishing is a great winter outing for the entire family … please bring your entire clan to the clinic.

Now, without further ado … here is Phil Cooper’s winter fishing report for you:

Avondale: Perch 6-12 in., fair for crappie, occasional largemouth bass, sunfish and bullhead. Perch and crappie are typically caught by tipping an ice jig with a maggot, cut bait or perch eye and by fishing near the bottom.

Bonner: Closed to fishing December 1 until the last Saturday in April.

Blue: (Bonner County) Perch 6-8 in., crappie, bass and occasional channel catfish.

Brush: Rainbow trout, bass and bluegill. Access can be limited by snow, about a 2-mile hike. Cocolalla: Perch 6-9 in., and numerous, occasional crappie. Some nice rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout.

Dawson: Perch 7-9 in., with occasional crappie, bluegill and bass.

Fernan: Perch 7-10 in., with occasional crappie, bass and northern pike, rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Freeman: Perch 6-9 in., occasional crappie, sunfish, bass, tiger muskie and stocked rainbow trout. Access can be limited by snow, ¼ mile hike.

Gamble: (Gamblin) Perch 8-12+ in. but not very numerous. Occasional bass, sunfish and crappie.

Hauser: Perch 7-10+ in., occasional crappie, sunfish, and bass. Good for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Hayden: Northern pike in the north end at Sportsman Park. Dead smelt or herring under a tip-up. Most run 24-30 in. Some perch, but slow. Trout fishing closed December 1 through last Saturday in April. Bass closed to harvest until July 1.

Jewel: Perch 6-9 in., bluegill, channel catfish and stocked rainbow.

Kelso: Good lake for stocked rainbow trout and mixed warmwater fish.

Killarney: Popular lake for 18-24 in. northern pike. Perch are generally small.

Medicine: Perch 6-8 in., with occasional bass and northern pike.

Mirror: Rainbow trout and occasional kokanee.

Pend Oreille: Limited ice fishing in Fry Creek Bay on the southeast end of the long bridge (Hwy. 95 south of Sandpoint), Condo Del Sol on the northwest end of the long bridge and in Denton Slough east of Hope. Also try Springy Point area on the Pend Oreille River. Good perch fishing with some large (12 in.+) but few in number.

Perkins: Perch 8-11 in., with occasional crappie, sunfish and bass.

Priest: If we get any safe ice, Priest Lake can provide good ice fishing for lake trout along east shoreline from Cavanaugh Bay north to Pinto Point. Try jigging spoons and lead headed jigs tipped with cut bait. Harvest of cutthroat, kokanee and bull trout is closed.

Robinson: Good fishing for 10-12 in. rainbow, brook, and occasional cutthroat trout. Some bluegill, pumpkinseed and bass. Bass closed to harvest until July 1.

Rose: Perch 7-9 in., some crappie, bluegill, and bass.

Round: Perch 7-9 in., excellent fishing for stocked rainbow trout. State Parks Pass required for entrance.

Smith: Good fishing for 10-12 in. rainbow and cutthroat trout, some bass.
Spirit: Kokanee fishing is good with fish running 7-10 inches. Anglers are reminded the limit is 15 kokanee and the season will close Feb. 15.

Thompson: Popular lake for northern pike, with most fish running 18-28 in.

Lower Twin: Perch 7-10 in. nice sized rainbow and cutthroat trout and a few big kokanee.

Upper Twin: Perch 6-9 in, a few crappie, but hard to catch, bass and occasional northern pike.

RIVER AND STREAMS: The Winter Stream Season will allow die-hard anglers to continue to catch-and-release trout through March 31 and harvest whitefish and brook trout. The list of rivers open during the winter include the Clark Fork River below the RR bridge, North Fork, Little North Fork and mainstem Coeur d’Alene rivers, St. Joe River, St. Maries River and the Moyie River.

COEUR D’ALENE LAKE: Winter can be a great time to fish for smaller chinook. Winter anglers typically use glow flashers and mini squids on a relatively long leader. The fish are usually below 60 feet where the water temperature is slightly warmer once the lake reaches winter stratification.

PRIEST LAKE: The lake is now at the winter pool level, so the only two deep water launches are located at Priest Lake Marina in Kalispell Bay on the west side and the Indian Creek State Park on the east side. Call ahead to the Priest Lake Marina (208-443-2405) to the IDPR Regional Office (208-769-1511) to see if the ramps are open and plowed and what the launch fee.

LAKE PEND OREILLE: Not much activity from anglers although both lake trout and rainbow fishing should be good for those hardy anglers willing to brave the cold weather.