Lake Coeur d’Alene Fishing Trips
Lake Coeur d’Alene is a spectacular lake set in North Idaho, where clear blue water is surrounded by a forest of fir, pine, and cedars. Some 25 miles from north to south and only 2-3 miles wide in most places, there are over 100 miles of shoreline and plenty of productive water to fish. ROW guides take you to the most productive fishing spots on the lake!
ROW Adventures’ Lake Coeur d’Alene fishing trips are fully outfitted and guided. Just bring your sense of adventure! Whether you have no angling experience, a lot of experience or, are new to the area and want to learn how to successfully fish Lake Coeur d’Alene, we will do our best to provide a great day of fishing. All the gear you need is provided including rods, reels, and tackle. Our boat is a 24-foot Hewescraft Sea Runner with a hardtop. The hardtop provides shade to keep you cool during the summer months or, warm and dry in the fall and winter months. During cooler days, for added comfort, there is an onboard heater that keeps the cabin warm and toasty. This boat seats 5 people comfortably and is fully equipped for fishing any species whether we are trolling or casting.
Your Guide and Captain
Your guide is Patrick Kieva who is a passionate fisherman. Patrick is a certified boat Captain with the USCG, a licensed guide on Lake Coeur d’Alene, and has been an avid fisherman for over 30 years. He loves the outdoors and the peace and tranquility the beauty of Northern Idaho provides. Patrick has proven himself a very successful fisherman on Lake Coeur d’Alene. His favorite species to catch is Chinook salmon and northern pike. He loves sharing his knowledge and passion for fishing with people of all ages. Patrick’s friendly personality, sense of humor, and knowledge of Lake Coeur d’Alene will make your trip one to remember.
Fish and Fishing on Lake Coeur d' Alene, Idaho
Get ready for some fishing fun on Lake Coeur d’Alene! This is a lake with some record-breaking fish. Idaho’s biggest northern pike was caught here and weighed in at 32 pounds and 46” long. Most years anglers catch a few pike that are over 30 pounds. Another species that gets anglers excited are the Chinook salmon. These are another large fish usually in the 3 to 8 pound range but sometimes reaching 10-20 pounds. These fish are great fighters and super fun to catch and land.
Chinook Salmon: Also known as king salmon because of their size, Chinook salmon run up a number of rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to the dams on the Columbia and Snake River, there were millions that would migrate each year. Chinook is an anadromous fish (running from fresh to saltwater), and native populations are found throughout the rivers and streams of the Pacific Coast of North America. Self-sustaining landlocked populations have been established in a few locations, including Lake Coeur d’Alene. They couldn’t have gotten to the lake on their own because Spokane Falls on the Spokane River in present-day Spokane, Washington, prevented them from passing any further upstream.
They were introduced to Lake Coeur d’Alene in the early 1980’s and have successfully adapted to life in the lake. These chinook are known as fluvial spawners, meaning they spawn in streams, live in the lake, and complete their entire life history in freshwater.
We have found that trolling is the best technique to catch these handsome fish and while you can catch them during many months of the year, March thru May is often more productive as they are living closer to the surface. In June and July, they are more difficult to catch as the lake’s water temperature rises, driving the fish deeper where the water is cooler. The late starts to cool down again in mid to late August on through October and this is a splendid time to catch chinooks and we find that often, the fish we catch are bigger during this timeframe. Late fall and winter also provide good fishing for chinook and even though they go deep during these months, we usually have good luck.
Northern Pike: The season for pike is May through October and during this time they tend to be quite active, chasing lures that are either cast or presented while trolling. These are action-packed fish that really challenge any fisher and your guide will steer you to the best techniques for the day.
Cougar Bay and other shallow bays on the lake are popular spots to fish for northern pike. In the spring, underwater weeds haven’t grown much, and since pike often live in shallow water, the lack of weeds makes fishing easier than later in the season. That said, you can fish for pike year-round.
Pike were illegally introduced into Lake Coeur d’Alene in the 1970’s and because of this, there is no limit to how many you can catch and keep. In fact, Idaho Fish and Game encourages the harvest of pike, since controlling their numbers helps other native species in the lake. Of particular interest is protecting and nurturing the survival of native cutthroat trout. Idaho Fish and Game work closely with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe on the management of the species. The two groups work together to monitor the pike population, using techniques such as tagging in order to learn more about the population of fish, their ages, growth rates, and more.
Beyond Lake Coeur d’Alene you will find northern pike in freshwater lakes, rivers, and creeks up to 100’ (30 meters) deep. Their habitat is circumpolar, meaning they live around the North pole in the arctic or northern reaches of North America, Europe, Asia, and Siberia. Most populations of northern pike are north of latitude 40 degrees north. (Coeur d’Alene is 47.67 N.) Don’t miss out on an exciting guided northern pike fishing trip on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Kokanee Salmon: In the 1930’s Kokanee were introduced into Lake Coeur d’Alene. Like the lake Chinook, they are land-locked salmon, but in this case, they are sockeye, those beautiful red salmon with a hooked jaw. They spend their entire 4 to 5-year life in the lake where they prefer cooler waters between 15 and 90 feet below the surface.
Kokanee eat mostly tiny aquatic animals known as zooplankton as well as tiny insects, small plants, and freshwater shrimp. They have evolved with a unique adaptation called a gill raker. Performing the same function as baleen in a whale, these are fine combs on the Kokanee’s gills that strain the zooplankton from the water. Their main predator is the Chinook salmon.
Once they mature, they spawn on the gravel shores of the lake where the females lay their eggs in a shallow nest known as a redd. They form their redd in the clean gravel along the lake’s shore by using powerful tail movements to move the gravel. Then they lay their eggs while a male drops his sperm. Once the eggs hatch, the tiny fry live in the gravel for about a month before moving to open water where they form schools with other baby Kokanee.
The parent fish die after spawning and if you come to visit in December and January, you will see dozens, if not hundreds, of their carcasses littered on the gravel beaches around Wolf Lodge Bay. Bald eagles perch in nearby trees and glide down for a feast of dead fish. There are often 200-300 bald eagles that pass through during this spawning period to fill up before continuing further south.
Smallmouth Bass: A non-native species that were introduced at some point, smallmouth bass are attractive fish with spiny backs. Generally, the best months for fishing for smallmouth bass is April through June and usually in the more shallow waters of the lake. We use a variety of lures and cast for best results.
More About Lake Coeur d' Alene
Three rivers feed Lake Coeur d’Alene, and one empties it. At the south end of the lake, the St. Joe and St. Maries river enter the lake near the town of St. Maries. This is wild country that once had the largest stands of white pine in all of North America. The St. Maries is a small and shallow river that drains a relatively small watershed. The St. Joe is much larger, flowing from the Bitterroot Mountains on the Idaho/Montana divide. The upper portions of the river are protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. ROW Adventures offers an action-packed whitewater rafting trip that starts about 80 miles upstream of where the river empties into Lake Coeur d’Alene. While the upper reaches of the river are fairly steep, with fast-flowing current, the river slows down noticeably as it gets closer to Lake Coeur d’Alene and in the last 15 miles is quite slow. This is the section often referred to as the Shadowy St. Joe.
North of the St. Joe and St. Maries is the Coeur d’Alene River. It flows from the Coeur d’Alene and Bitterroot ranges, dropping from peaks in the east towards the lake to the west. The South Fork flows through the Silver Valley, where the biggest mother lode of silver in the world is located. The North Fork runs fast and clear from the Coeur d’Alene range and the two forks join near the hamlet of Enaville, not far from Cataldo. About 20 miles further downstream the river empties into Lake Coeur d’Alene.
These three rivers flow free with no dams, so in the spring, as high mountain snows are melting, they feed the lake with bountiful flows. At the north end of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the waters continue their journey to the sea as they exit the lake and become the Spokane River. About 12 miles downstream is Post Falls, a spectacular waterfall during the months of May and June. There’s a small dam that was built here in the early 1900’s to divert water to the Spokane Valley for irrigation, and this artificially manipulates the water level in Lake Coeur d’Alene.
At its deepest point, Lake Coeur d’Alene is about 220’ (70 meters) deep. The geologic history of the lake is quite fascinating. Our last ice ages were only 10,000-15,000 years ago. During this time massive glaciers crawled south from the north, scraping the landscape as they moved. Lake Pend Oreille, just 20 miles north of Lake Coeur d’Alene, was created by these glaciers which carved a basin over 1000’ deep! It’s so deep that it served as a submarine training base during WWII and today there is still a submarine research center located in the lakeside town of Bayview. The old Naval Base is now home to Farragut State Park.
The glaciers came to a grinding halt around the present-day town of Coeur d’Alene, and in that process dumped millions of cubic feet of rock and gravel that dammed up a river – the Spokane River – and created Lake Coeur d’Alene. This explains why the lake is long and narrow, like a river, and not very deep.
What species of fish will we fish for on Lake Coeur d’Alene and what technique will we use to catch them?
This year-round fishery has many species of fish but depending on the time of year we will primarily be targeting landlocked Chinook salmon, northern pike, smallmouth bass or Kokanee salmon.
Chinook Salmon – Trolling is our preferred technique to catch these big fish. March thru May is the most popular time because cooler waters keep them closer to the surface. They are a bit harder to catch in June and July, but then as the water cools in late August through November, we find the biggest fish.
Northern pike – The season for pike is May thru October when they are very active and will chase lures that are trolled or cast.
Smallmouth Bass – Found in shallow water, April thru June is the best time to catch Smallmouths. Various lures cast out from the boat bring success.
Kokanee Salmon – May thru September we use a variety of Kokanee rigs to catch these red-toned beauties.
What type of boat will I fish in and how many people will it seat?
Our boat is a very clean and well maintained 24-foot 2018 Hewescraft Sea Runner. This boat will seat five passengers, but a comfortable number for fishing is four. The hard top keeps you shaded and cool during the warmer months and warm and dry in the colder months.
Is the Guide qualified to operate a power boat with passengers?
Yes! Your guide is a boat Captain that has been licensed and certified with the U.S. Coast Guard and is also First Aid/CPR qualified. You will be in good hands.
Are there restrooms available on the boat?
There are no restrooms on the boat itself. However, your guide is very familiar with the lake and knows where the nearest restrooms are located. We do recommend everyone use the restroom prior to boarding to keep bathroom breaks to a minimum in order to maximize your fishing time.
Are we guaranteed to catch fish?
No, there are no guarantees in fishing. Rest assured that your guide is very experienced on Lake Coeur d’Alene and will do his absolute best to get fish in the boat. However, he has no control over whether the fish will bite or not. The fishing is always good, but the catching can be hit and miss.
What is included?
All fishing gear, light snacks, a professional, licensed guide and comfortable boat.
What is not included?
Bring suitable clothing for a day on the water which could be sunny and warm, windy and cool or rainy and wet.
Should I tip my guide?
If you have a great time on the boat with your guide, he would appreciate a gratuity, just like anyone else in the service and hospitality business. We recommend 15-20% of the trip price.
Do you offer other fishing trips?
Yes, ROW Adventures also offers fly fishing trips on several local rivers such as the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and Clark Fork. We also offer 4 to 6-day fishing trips on Idaho’s legendary Middle Fork of the Salmon and Snake River in Hells Canyon.
Do I need a fishing license and where do I get it?
You can purchase your Idaho fishing license online at: https://idfg.huntfishidaho.net/
Learn more about Idaho Fishing Regulations here: https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/fish
If fishing in the southern third of the lake then Coeur d’Alene Tribe Fishing Regulations apply as the fishing takes place on tribal waters. Specific regulations are found here: http://www.cdatribe-nsn.gov/natural/Fisheries/fish/fishfeereg.pdf
What are the daily bag limits on lake Coeur d' Alene?
Northern Pike: No limits.
Chinook salmon: limit is 2, none under 20 inches
Bass: limit is 6, largemouth and smallmouth combined
Kokanee salmon: limit is 15 (limit on tribal waters is 25)
Trout: limit is 6, except that no harvest of cutthroat trout is permitted