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Idaho Fish and Game


Dust off the fishing rod and plan your next family fishing outing this spring


Itchin’ for some fishin’? Here are some of the best statewide spring fishing holes for new anglers and families

Old man winter has finally hit the bricks, and as the temperatures creep up fish get a little more active and Idaho Fish and Game stocking trucks start delivering more fish across the state. 

Maybe ol’ Saint Nick delivered a new fishing pole to a kid during Christmas, or your trusty old fishing rod has been stuck in the rafters since last year, but either way, the time is here to get out on the water and try to catch some fish.

A young boy with a rainbow trout caught at Free Fishing Day, Riley Pond, June 2023

Spring fishing is an exceptional opportunity for new or seasoned anglers wanting to get back on the water with their friends or families.

Trout are a favorite quarry in early spring because they remain active year-round, but they perk up as water starts to warm after the cold winter. Fish and Game stocks tens of thousands of trout for anglers every month, and spring and early summer are the busiest time of year for hatchery crews.

But trout aren’t the only type of fishing available. Warmwater fishing can bounce back remarkably fast with a streak of warm, sunny weather, and many other species, such as perch, crappie and bluegill, become very active during spring. 

A good rule of thumb is fish like warming or stable weather during spring, but fishing tends to fall off when there’s a cold spell. With so many fishing opportunities near Idaho’s cities and towns, spring is a good chance to check out your local waters. 

Not sure where to go fishing? Check out these easily accessible and regularly stocked lakes and ponds around the state. 


Coeur d’Alene Lake & Chain Lakes

If you’ve never tried your hand at catching a northern pike, maybe this is the year to give it a go. April is a great month to get after them from a boat or the shoreline. At this time of year, pike can be targeted from shore by simply using a bobber and bait. Catch rates typically aren’t high in the early spring, but it is certainly when some of the biggest fish get caught. As the water warms, northern pike will more actively chase lures making them well-suited to be targeted from a boat. Pike typically take up residence in shallow bays, so check out the Chain Lakes or any of the shallow bays in Coeur d’Alene Lake to hook up with one this year.

Not into pike fishing? No problem. Coeur d’Alene Lake offers outstanding smallmouth bass fishing in the spring. And any of the 10 Chain Lakes offer good opportunity for bass, bluegill, crappie and even channel catfish in Rose Lake.

Fernan Lake

Fernan Lake lies only a stone’s throw away from Coeur d’Alene city limits, and it offers anglers the chance to catch perch, crappie, bluegill, bass, channel catfish and rainbow trout. Beginning in early-April and ending in October, Fernan Lake is stocked with nearly 25,000 catchable rainbow trout. As water temperatures warm throughout the spring and into early-summer, fishing for the assorted warmwater fish in the lake gets even better. 

To sweeten the pot, docks and boat ramp access are abundant at the east and west ends of the lake and from the road that runs along the north side of the lake. Fernan Lake is a great place to cast spinners or soak bait under a bobber from the shoreline. 

Lowland Lakes & Ponds

The Panhandle is home to plenty of lowland lakes, many of which offer great opportunities for folks looking to fish from the shoreline. Here are a few to consider:

  • Post Falls Park Pond (Kootenai County)
  • Spicer Pond (Benewah County)
  • Shepherd Lake (Bonner County)
  • Brush Lake (Boundary County)
  • Kelso Lake (Bonner County)
  • Round Lake (Bonner County)
  • Hauser Lake (Kootenai County)
  • Dawson Lake (Boundary County)

Each of these lakes has great access and offers anglers the chance to land a variety of warmwater fish species including largemouth bass, bluegill and yellow perch among others. In addition, with the exception of Shepherd and Hauser lakes, you might find a hatchery-stocked rainbow trout tugging at the end of your line. For any of these lowland lakes, you can never go wrong flinging spinners or simply soaking a worm under a bobber. To find maps to these lakes and more, use Idaho Fish and Game’s Fishing Planner.


Dworshak Reservoir

Looking for a big body of water in the heart of Clearwater country? Dworshak Reservoir in central Idaho along the North Fork of the Clearwater River offers anglers both picturesque mountain views and chances at hooking several species of fish, most notably smallmouth bass and kokanee. 

Dworshak reservoir will provide excellent fishing opportunities once again in 2024. Kokanee anglers should see improved opportunities from the previous two years, and smallmouth bass anglers should continue to experience excellent bass fishing with trophy opportunities. Higher abundances of rainbow trout stocking will also continue to provide opportunities for both boat and shore anglers.

Check out the Dworshak Reservoir fishing forecast for the spring 2024 season.

Mann Lake

Mann Lake – well, technically a reservoir – is 137-acres holding a number of game fish, including catfish, perch, bass, bluegill and you guessed it, rainbow trout. Fishing at Mann Lake is usually a good option early because it is a lower-elevation lake that hits prime temperatures quickly when things warm up. 

Mann Lake is easily accessible and close to the city of Lewiston, making for the perfect getaway. The reservoir was recently stocked with 6,000-rainbow trout in April and is typically bolstered with more trout (and, on occasion, channel catfish) sporadically throughout late spring and summer. Mann Lake is also a popular crappie fishery and often boasts some nice ones this time of year. 

Back by popular demand will include a stocking of banana trout to Mann Lake. For more details, check out the article here.

Middle Fork Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers

The Middle Fork of the Clearwater River is a great spot for springtime fishing. Whether you’re fly fishing, spinning, or baitcasting, your chances of getting a bite here are good. There’s a large variety of fish species including the chance to catch a bass, whitefish or trout. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel and head out to the Middle Fork Clearwater River this season.

In addition, the Lochsa River is known for excellent trout fishing on an easily accessible river as it follows portions of Highway 12 through this scenic river corridor. It draws avid anglers and novices alike and is home to native trout species as well as mountain whitefish. Springtime conditions can produce high flows, yet when the water level drops, this can be an excellent place to find good spring fishing access.


C.J. Strike Reservoir

This huge impoundment of the Snake and Bruneau rivers is no stranger to early season anglers, and for good reason. C.J. Strike Reservoir provides a variety of fishing and boating access sites and a grab bag of species to choose from. Crappie, perch, bass and trout are commonly caught in the spring. Fishing can be good year round, and unlike other southern Idaho reservoirs, this one isn’t drained each summer for irrigation water, so it’s fairly consistently full. 

Strike is well suited for both boaters and shore anglers. There are numerous launch spots for boats, and most of the southern shoreline is vehicle accessible. The reservoir is suitable for most craft, but beware of wind if you’re in a small craft. You may want to pick an area protected from the wind to fish. The upper Bruneau Arm and the Highway 51 bridge are good for smaller boats. 

The shoreline has developed and undeveloped camping spots for weekend trips, but it’s a popular area so expect competition for waterfront campsites. 

Arrowrock Reservoir

For trout, Arrowrock Reservoir is at its best in the spring. Fish and Game stocked this reservoir with 9,000 trout in October, and many of those trout cruise the shorelines in early spring. Bank anglers using bait can catch limits of fish in the 16-inch range, and there's easy vehicle access to the shoreline along the reservoir. 

Kokanee fishing has been good through the winter and into the spring with fish in the 14-16” in range. Remember kokanee are near the surface in early spring before the weather starts warming up. Idaho Fish and Game fisheries managers are expecting kokanee fishing to be good this year at both Arrowrock and Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Treasure Valley Ponds 

There are almost too many to list, but safe to say it's easy to find one near all the communities in the Treasure Valley where trout are stocked, and there are often warmwater fish available. Here is a list of waters that were stocked in late March and early April.

To learn more about Treasure Valley Ponds, see this 2021 article highlighting many of the favorites.

Lake Lowell

This lake is part of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge and conveniently located south of Nampa and Caldwell. Largemouth bass are the most popular sport fish, but it’s catch-and-release only for bass until July 1, and then the bass limit is two with none between 12 and 16 inches. Those rules help sustain a good population of larger bass. 

Anglers can also catch channel catfish, perch and panfish. Illegally stocked walleye have also been recently discovered, and anglers should kill and keep any walleye that they catch there. Fish and Game stocked tiger muskies in 2020, but none have been found during fish population surveys, so it’s unknown if any survived. 

There’s good shoreline fishing available, and several parks around the lake, as well as boat launches. The southwest shoreline is mostly undeveloped, but there are numerous access points and unimproved boat launch spots. 


Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir

This large, high-desert reservoir is about 35 miles south of Twin Falls and is probably best known for its walleye and rainbow trout fishing. In April, Fish and Game is scheduled to stock 18,000 magnum rainbow trout (12 inches) in the reservoir.

The walleye population is strong as well, with the majority in the 13-15 inch range with limits of 6 per day (one only over 20 inches). Spring through early to mid-summer is when walleye catch rates are typically the best; however, the fall can be a great time to get out and catch them, too.

The area surrounding the reservoir is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which provides camping and boating access facilities, such as the Lud Drexler Park and campground near the dam.

Magic Reservoir

This high-desert reservoir is fed by the waters of the Big Wood River and was constructed to provide irrigation for local agricultural operations. Reservoir water levels fluctuate throughout the summer. Magic has been hit hard by drought in recent years, but it still provides good fishing opportunities during spring. 

The reservoir is stocked by Fish and Game and received 7,500 magnum rainbow trout in early April. Yellow perch fishing opportunities are still available, but that species has been severely impacted by several years of drought conditions. Fish and Game will continue working to rebuild that portion of the fishery by translocating additional yellow perch from other waters in southern Idaho into the reservoir.

Magic Reservoir can be accessed through several points, the easiest being Highway 75, turning onto East Magic Road. There are several launch and load ramps available to boaters.


Community Fisheries

Sometimes you don’t have to travel too far to get into some good fishing! Here are some fun community fisheries that offer convenient escapes close to home.

This 3-acre pond is located just minutes from downtown Pocatello. Nestled within the 40-acre Edson Fichter Nature Area, this pond features several docks and a paved trail for access around the pond. Your dog is welcome to be your fishing buddy—if leashed while at the pond and on the trails. However, if they need to cool off or would like to practice their retrieving skills, there is a “puppy pond” and an off-leash area built just for them on the same property.

Located within the Portneuf Wellness Complex Park near the county fairgrounds in Pocatello, this community park offers trout fishing with many recreational amenities nearby. The 6-acre fishery is surrounded by playgrounds, soccer fields, basketball courts, running and biking trails, and an amphitheater for community events. Multiple docks provide fishing access around the reservoir.

Tucked away on the northern edge of Malad City, this 23-acre reservoir provides a nice local fishing spot for the lone angler or the whole family. Rainbows are stocked in this fishery, but anglers have caught bluegill and largemouth bass, too.

McTucker Pond 

Located on land managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, this pond was once a series of eight smaller water bodies but is now one connected water body occupying more than 8 acres. 

Anglers can reel in rainbow trout, bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass, bullhead, and channel catfish. Though the site is dominated by willows and cottonwood trees, there are plenty of openings along the banks to plant a camp chair and cast a line. This is a great fishery for the kids, too!

There is a nearby camping area and vault restrooms available. Visitors have been treated to sights of moose, deer, pheasants, beaver, and a variety of waterfowl species.

Snake River below American Falls Dam

Whether you are after bass, rainbows, cutties, or browns, this fishery has something for everyone. Who knows, you might even reel in some crappie or perch! Looking for a place to catch a sturgeon? You can do that along this stretch of river, too.

If waters are running high or you don’t have a boat, don’t worry—there are places to fish from the shore and from docks. But, keep in mind this section of river has some special rules.

  • From the downstream side of the Gifford Springs boat fishing zone (western boundary) upstream to Eagle Rock, the bass limit is 2, any size. 
  • Trout limit is 6; only two may be cutthroat trout. 
  • From Eagle Rock upstream to American Falls Dam, trout limit is 0 this time of year (catch-and release only). 
  • From the Saturday before Memorial Day, the trout limit is 2 until Oct. 15.

Jim Moore Pond

Located a few miles south of Roberts, this hidden gem provides a non-stop fishing adventure for kids going after small perch. While the perch are small, the constant action and high catch rates really grasps a kid’s attention and keeps them hooked, pardon the pun. 

Smaller hooks or lures with a little chunk of bait attached are the ticket to reeling in perch at this pond. The bite is usually light, so try using a small bobber to detect hits. Sometimes the action is so hot that perch have been known to bite a bare hook off of the docks. In addition to yellow perch, catfish and rainbow trout can also be caught here. Restrooms are available, and the access roads are generally in good condition. 

Gem Lake

Conveniently located just south of Idaho Falls, Gem Lake Recreation Area is a slow moving run of the river reservoir between the Upper and Lower Gem State Dams. Twelve thousand catchable-size rainbow trout are stocked in Gem Lake every year beginning in March. Long stretches of shoreline open to anglers exist from both the Gem Lake North boat launch and the Gem Lake Recreation Area on Township Road. 

Rainbow and brown trout can grow to a decent size in these waters but will need a slow presentation to tempt a bite in the early spring. Try a slow retrieve jig or good sized worm to produce results. 

Trail Creek Pond

Nestled at the base of the Teton mountain range, this often overlooked pond is the perfect stop for families headed on vacation to Jackson Hole or nearby Grand Teton Park. Restroom facilities, picnic tables, and beautiful mountain scenery make Trail Creek an opportune place to stretch your legs and catch a few rainbow trout before continuing on your journey or when camping nearby. 

Stocking begins in early May, just in time for that summer vacation. Due to its high elevation and cooler water temperatures, this pond fishes well all through the summer heat when other lower elevation ponds start to warm up and fishing tends to slow. Kids are not likely to get bored here as catch rates are usually high and the fish tend to bite on bait or lures equally. Several open areas make this a good place for beginners to learn how to cast a fly or throw a spinner without too much risk of hanging up in the brush. 


Kids Creek Pond

Located in Salmon, Kids Creek Pond features a fishing dock, restrooms, and pavilion with picnic tables, making this a convenient fishing hole for those short on time. Kids Creek Pond is stocked with rainbow trout, and kids can even sometimes land a hatchery steelhead. In some years, hatchery steelhead or Chinook salmon returning to Pahsimeroi Hatchery are released in the pond for a rare fishing opportunity.

Hyde Creek Pond

Hyde Creek Pond is a small irrigation pond that provides good bank fishing for beginning anglers. This pond is on private property south of Salmon on the road to the Sunset Heights subdivision. Remember to be respectful and clean up any litter before you leave.

Hayden Creek Pond

Hayden Creek Pondis another popular family fishing hole with a picnic shelter, tables, grills, and restroom. The 1.7-acre pond is about 24 miles south of Salmon on Highway 28 and 3 miles south on Hayden Creek Road. Because spring water feeds the pond, thus creating good habitat, the fish that don't get caught right away continue to grow, giving anglers an opportunity to catch some larger trout as the season progresses. 

Remember to keep it simple when fishing with kids. Using simple setups like worm and marshmallow combinations or PowerBait® near the bottom or below a bobber will usually do the trick.