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Holiday fishing fun in North Idaho
June 28, 2017
Photo courtesy
By Phil Cooper
IDFG Wildlife Conservation Educator

The Fourth of July holiday is a day of great celebration in the U.S. Fireworks, family and fishing are all great choices for activities during the Fourth of July holiday! And, because of the Idaho Fish and Game Price Lock program, buying your 2017 fishing license means the price of your next year’s license won’t go up!

The Idaho panhandle offers outdoor opportunities in abundance. The weather forecast looks great for outdoor fun, so taking off Monday, July 3 and expanding the holiday fun is something to seriously consider.

Fishing is fun, close, and inexpensive. If you are not sure where to start, I suggest taking advantage of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) website. Search for Idaho Fish and Game, or

Once on the website, click on the fishing tab. On the drop down, go to Fishing Planner.

I doubt there is a state in the country that makes it as easy to find fishing information. And the “Family Fishing Waters” section lists many great choices on places to go, and what fish are present in each water. The “Family Fishing Waters” section lists 18 places in the Panhandle that are good spots for fishing fun on the Independence Day holiday weekend. There are suggestions for other parts of the state as well, and each region has a tab to get fishing information.

Waters with the Family Fishing designation have been identified as fishing spots close to home that are geared toward family fishing and the high likelihood of catching fish. The fishing regulations are uniform on Family Fishing Waters and are easy to understand, even if you don’t fish often.

Of course, one rule applies to all waters in the state. Everyone 14 years old and older is required to have a fishing license. Licenses are available at many retail stores and you can even buy them online. Licenses purchased online can be stored on your mobile phone! As long as you carry your phone, you have your license with you.

Buying your 2017 fish license guarantees the price of your 2018 license won’t go up, thanks to the Price Lock program. That’s true for each of the next five years, provided you continue to buy your annual license. If you don’t buy a license during one of those years and then buy in a later year, the price will go up to reflect the new fee schedule adopted by the Idaho Legislature. Save money by buying a license and going fishing this year!

The following are some suggestions for holiday fishing in the Panhandle:

Fernan Lake sits just outside of the city of Coeur d’Alene. For many, it is in walking or biking distance. Fernan is highly productive and holds just about every species of fish found in northern Idaho. Although it is one of the most highly used waters in the state, there are lots of places for anglers to spread out. The lake covers 423 acres. There are numerous pull outs and shore access along Fernan Lake Road on the North side of the lake. Fernan Lake is a “Family Fishing Water.”

Please keep in mind that camping, fires and fireworks are not permitted along Fernan lake Road. The banks are steep in some areas, so be careful where you pull off the road to fish.

Great fishing choices in the Post Falls/Rathdrum area include Hauser Lake and Post Falls Park Pond.

Hauser has great access, with new docks developed and installed this spring by Kootenai County Parks and Waterways. The dock system is huge and provides a lot of room to fish this highly productive lake. There is a large parking lot, several picnic tables, a playground and well maintained restrooms. If you have a boat, there is a boat launch available.

Hauser Lake is 550 acres in size and holds a wide variety of fish species. Many can be caught right from the dock. If fishing from a boat, fishing can be excellent throughout the lake.

Post Falls Park Pond is planted with catchable rainbow trout. A playground is available if the kids want to take a break from fishing. You can also walk a short trail to look at the spillway of Post Falls Dam.

In the St. Maries area, try Spicer Pond. This small (one acre) lake just SE of St Maries is stocked with rainbow trout and is right on the St Maries River. There are restrooms, some picnic tables and a large parking area.

In the Silver Valley, Rose Lake is a 370 acre picturesque lake that has newly renovated boat launch, improved parking facilities and very fishable docks. Steamboat Pond along the Coeur d’Alene River between Kingston and Pritchard is a three acre lake with good parking, easy access and a well-placed fishing dock. Steamboat is planted with catchable sized rainbow trout.

In the Bonners Ferry area, Brush Lake, Robinson Lake, Dawson Lake and Smith Lake are good places to try for a wide variety of fish species.

Round Lake at Round Lake State Park produces some large brook trout and rainbow trout fairly close to Sandpoint.

Making a choice on where to go may be the hardest part of the process. And, we haven’t even mentioned the larger lakes such as Pend Oreille, Coeur d’Alene, Priest and Hayden. All are fishable from shore but boat anglers are the most successful on these large lakes.

If floating and fly fishing are more your style, the St Joe River is at great floating levels now and the water is clear. The same is true of the Coeur d’Alene River. If you aren’t sure where to put in or take out, the US Forest Service has excellent publications listing various floats on these rivers with access points for floaters.

If you want to experience the great outdoors of Idaho, fishing is a great way to do it. Check out the website and give fishing a try for inexpensive family fun for the Fourth of July holiday!
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