Before You Go
The WMA sits at the narrowest point of the valley between the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges, and many wildlife species use the WMA. The diversity of wildlife and fish species makes McArthur Lake popular with hunters and anglers. The lake provides an enjoyable boating opportunity and some hiking trails located on the north end. The WMA is open year-round for public use.
Panhandle Regional Office
Primary Purpose: Waterfowl breeding, nesting, migration habitat; hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing
Habitat: Wetlands, riparian, conifer forest
- 1,891 acres
- Boundary and Bonner counties
- Established in 1942
things to know
Motorized boats are allowed on McArthur Lake, but due to the overall shallow waters of the lake, minimally powered boats are advised.
Black bear and grizzly bear activity is possible in the area. Please use Bear Aware precautions as you recreate.
Diversity could be another name for the McArthur Lake WMA. Its shallow lake, marshes, and adjacent upland forests and meadows, provide diverse wildlife habitat and a mix of hunting and fishing.
Purchased in 1942, the McArthur Lake WMA is one of the oldest WMAs to specifically protect and enhance waterfowl habitat. It provides breeding and nesting habitat for 17 waterfowl species. During the spring and fall migrations, large numbers of ducks, geese, tundra swans, and shorebirds use McArthur Lake as a stopover and resting location.
The WMA sits at the narrowest point of the valley between the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges, and many wildlife species use the WMA. Deer and moose are abundant year-round and elk mostly visit in the winter. Black bears are frequently seen in the spring, and furbearers like muskrat, beaver, and river otter are common. Upland game such as ruffed grouse and turkey also use the WMA.
Waterfowl hunting is popular until freeze-up, usually in November. White-tailed deer, black bear, and moose are frequently hunted on the WMA.
Please be sure to check Idaho’s Seasons and Rules for up-to-date hunting information.
During the summer the lake is a popular fishing spot for yellow perch, sunfish, largemouth bass, brook trout, and rainbow trout.
Motorized boats are allowed on McArthur Lake. Due to the overall shallowness of the reservoir (depths less than 12 feet and usually 3 feet or less) shallow-draft, minimally powered boats are advised. Paddlecraft, such as canoes and kayaks, are an excellent way to navigate the WMA.
Trapping is allowed on McArthur Lake WMA, typically for muskrat, beaver, coyote, mink and otter. Please follow all general and unit-specific trapping regulations and legal equipment.
Trappers must register with the Panhandle Regional Office or WMA staff before setting out traps on the WMA.
Many people visit the WMA to view wildlife, particularly during spring and fall waterfowl and songbird migrations. Game species such as moose, elk, black bear, wild turkey and white-tailed deer frequent the area and can often be seen from the water or shore. Early winter is a particularly good time to see ravens, bald eagles and otters out plotting and playing on the ice.
McArthur Lake WMA is a recognized spot on the Idaho Birding Trail.
Hiking trails are located on the northwest and southwest edges of the WMA. Off-trail hiking is encouraged in all seasons. Waterproof pants are recommended year-round.