Priest Lake anglers can expect Kokanee fishing to be similar to what they found last year. Idaho Fish and Game Kokanee monitoring efforts suggest Kokanee numbers remain low, but the fish that are caught should be good sized (likely 14-16"). Although a small increase in Kokanee abundance was observed between 2011 and 2013 in Priest Lake, the upward trend hasn't continued in recent years.
Kokanee have been a piece of the Priest Lake fishery since the late 1950’s. Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout originally brought anglers to the area in the early 1900’s, but Kokanee dominated angler’s attention through much of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. In the 1980’s, with declining Kokanee numbers in Priest Lake, much of the angling effort shifted to Lake Trout. Kokanee fishing faded away for the next 30 years, primarily due to predation by Lake Trout. However, since the 2011-13 uptick in Kokanee abundance, Priest Lake anglers have enjoyed some improvement in the Kokanee fishery. Catch rates are low compared to some regional Kokanee fisheries (i.e., Lake Pend Oreille), but larger fish size often appeals to anglers.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been working with local stakeholders to develop Priest Lake fishery management options for the future. Three alternatives were recently identified for public input. One option is to maintain the existing management strategy, which favors Lake Trout. Another is focused on enhancing Kokanee, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, and Bull Trout (which requires managing against Lake Trout). Yet another alternative would attempt to strike a balance that allows all species to be present at fishable levels. Public meetings will be held in 2017 to discuss these Priest Lake management options and solicit input from the public. Interested parties are encouraged to attend. Once meeting dates are set, they will be advertised in local papers and on the IDFG website.