Winter certainly has been cold and snowy in the Panhandle this year. Shoveling snow and contending with slippery roads can make winter a less than pleasant time for many people. Fortunately, the winter has also provided a good ice fishing season that many anglers have gotten out and enjoyed. In fact, ice conditions this year have been better than normal. Our coldest weather is likely behind us, but ice fishing could hold up for a while if the weather cooperates. If ice fishing is something you enjoy or maybe want to give a try, consider taking advantage of the opportunity before it fades away.
There are plenty of ice fishing destinations and fish species to choose from in the Panhandle. Good ice conditions have been present on all of the lowland lakes this winter. Many anglers like to target warmwater fish species in the lowland lakes, particularly Yellow Perch. A few of the more popular places to target Yellow Perch are Fernan Lake, Cocolalla Lake, Twin Lakes, Avondale Lake, Gamblin Lake, and portions of Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River near Sandpoint. Lowland lakes near Bonners Ferry, such as Dawson Lake, Bonner Lake, Smith Lake, and Perkins Lake also are popular spots to target warmwater fish. Some popular spots to target trout include Avondale Lake, Cocolalla Lake, and Mirror Lake. If kokanee interest you, give Spirit Lake or Mirror Lake a try. But, expect small kokanee in Spirit Lake this year. Some anglers like to chase bigger fish through the ice, such as Northern Pike. Good options for Northern Pike include the north end of Hayden Lake, the Coeur d’Alene Chain Lakes, and Chatcolet and Benewah lakes (Heyburn State Park). Portions of Priest Lake have offered good ice this winter, such as Cavanaugh Bay, which means Lake Trout fishing is an option.
Be safe and always check ice conditions before venturing out fishing. Pay particular attention at this time of year as warmer weather and rain can cause unsafe ice conditions rather quickly. If you get the chance to go, good luck fishing!