Fishing Guide

Fishing Guide on Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene has several great sport fisheries including Chinook Salmon, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Kokanee Salmon.

Fishing Tips

Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing

Early Spring

Fish shallow depths in the warmest water you can find such as Coeur d’Alene city beach, Cougar Bay, the Harrison Slough, Chatcolet and Round Lakes or the Coeur d'Alene Chain Lakes. Lures: Cast Rattle Traps, tube jigs and wacky-hooked white or chartreuse-colored wormbaits. Alternately, troll Crank Baits and Jerkbaits in 10-15 feet of water parallel to shore at 2.5-3.0 mph. Patience and persistence pays in big fish!

Summer - Fall

Fish shorelines lakewide with Crank Baits, Spinner baits, Jerkbaits, Rapalas and Tube/Worm Jigs. Look for muddy flats with drop-offs and weedlines and fish the transitions. Trolling parallel to shore in 15-30' of water using deep diving Jerkbaits and Spinner baits at 2-3 mph produces large numbers of nice fish including pike, largemouth and crappie into the fall. As the summer heats up, fish farther out to about 30’ of water depending on the thermocline. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass feed on adolescent kokanee schools, so be aware of the food source and choose your lures accordingly. Casting ¼ & ⅜ oz lead headed jigs with twin tail chartreuse, red speckled and dark brown grubs works well throughout the day near-shore, but further out use silver and blue or glow and silver lures such as Berkeley Flicker Shads to attract these aggressive fish.

Chinook Salmon Fishing

Chinook Salmon Fishing

Late Winter - Early Spring

Spring chinook feed sporadically in the spring and are usually in the top 30’ of water. Use middle-of-line weighted 15# test monofilament line with helmeted-herring, jointed rapalas, 3-4" lightweight flutter spoons or diving plugs. Most of the fish are going to be on the South end of the lake such as Powder Horn, Rockford Bay into Windy Bay and south to Harrison. Troll at speeds of 1.6-1.9 mph 120-200' back using side planers or downrigger parallel to shorelines and near prominent points of land. Best bite times seem to be 10 am and 2 pm. Look for balls of kokanee and fish through and just below them.

Late Spring - Early Fall

As the lake temperature increases and the thermocline stabilizes, Chinook are 30’-100’ deep. Use 11” Flasher, Herring, 11” Flasher/ Fly, Dodger/Fly, Dodger/Herring and 8” flashers tied 12-18" ahead of mini squids. Fish progressively further south towards Harrison as the summer advances until spawning occurs in late August/early September. Fishing is best early in the morning but can still be good throughout the day as the chinook sound in the darker deeper water near rocky shorelines. Helmeted-herring is a sure bet tied 72-96" back from 11" flashers and trolled 1.7-1.9 mph at 40-90' deep.

Another productive method early in the summer is fast-trolling 3-4" flutter spoons parallel to rocky shorelines at 2.2-2.8 mph in the morning hours. Again, use heavy 15# + test monofilament leaders as pike are frequently caught using this method as well.

Late Fall - Winter

Fish in the northern half of the lake at 60’-100’ deep. Use 8” and 11" Green Prism/Chrome or Red/Chrome Prism Flashers tied 15-25" ahead of glow-colored mini squids. Don't be afraid to touch bottom in muddy mid lake areas from time to time and retrace your path when marking numbers of sizeable fish.

When lake surface temperatures drop below 40°F, it's time to change the game again. Fish 70’-115’ deep. Run Mini Squid and Herring. Fish from Tubbs Hill to East Point keeping your presentation 30' off the bottom where possible. Tie mini-squid 24-28" behind flashers and troll 1.6-1-9 mph.

Northern Pike Fishing

Northern Pike Fishing

Late Winter-Early Spring

Anytime water temps are under 50 degrees F, fish shallow areas over dead weed beds primarily using whole herring or smelt baited steel leader rigs suspended from bobbers. Fishing is slow but produces very large fish on occasion. Pike will also strike jigged blade baits and slow retrieved paddle tailed swim baits in perch patterns. Best areas to fish are warm water bays and sloughs and the Cd'A chain lakes.

Late Spring-Fall

Cast or troll swim baits, spinner baits, large spoons, crank baits, jerkbaits, or rapalas on and nearby weedlines in bays and submerged plateaus 5-30' deep. If casting, retrieve slowly and if chased by a curious pike keep the lure in the water as long as possible using a repeating figure 8 pattern. Most pike are caught in sight within 15' of the vessel or dock. As the weedlines progress in growth, focus on the deep water side of the weeds using vertical jigging motions. If trolling, use repeated passes over promising areas at 1.2-2.5 mph. As fall approaches, switch lure colors to match the changing leaves. Brass colored baits work best this time of year.

Kokanee (Blueback) Salmon Fishing

Kokanee (Blueback) Salmon Fishing


Pre-spawn kokanee can be easily caught from May- November on a variety of lures using a variety of methods. Mature Lake Coeur d'Alene kokanee range from 8-12" in early summer and grow to 12-16", sometimes exceeding 18" by late Fall. Depending on their size and numbers, fishing techniques vary.

For early season success, troll using multiple-flasher/wedding ring or mini squid combinations such as the Ford Fender or willow leaf tipped with scented shoepeg corn or maggots. Troll slow at 1.2-1.5 mph over areas of high concentrations of active fish holding in 20-60' of water such as Arrow Point to Silver Beach on the North end and Spokane Point to Rockford Bay on the South end. Mica Bay to Driftwood Point also produces well this time of year.

Key to success is a keen eye for the bite and a forgiving but persistent retrieval, as pre spawn kokanee have a soft mouth and tear off easily.

As the water heats up past 60° the fish will descend with the thermocline to about 35-60' deep, but sometimes as deep as 90' by late summer. While trolling is still a successful method, modify the offering with bladed flashers and mini squid/wedding ring combinations at speeds of 1.5-1.8 mph. For a change in pace, target high concentrations of kokanee at or near the bottom off of rocky deepwater shoals like Higgins Point, Arrow Point, Driftwood Point, Pugh Point and East Point with unbaited lead blade jigs like P line kokanator jigs in 1/3-1/2 oz size or weighted wedding-ring lure presentations tipped with corn or eggs and jig the bottom 15' using rapid upward lifts and controlled free fall decent repetitions. Often, limits are caught in less than an hour using this entertaining and successful method.

When spawning, troll 1.5-1.8 mph using 8" flasher/ mini squid combinations scented with shrimp oil and fish the bottom along gravel shoals using repeated passes where successful. Also, jigging is very productive using the methods stated above, but you'd better hang on, male spawning kokanee are fierce fighters and require a firm hookset to keep on the line.

Visit our activities page to find information about other Lake CDA fishing guides and charter services.

Fishing License & Regulations

Idaho Fishing License Information

To fish in Idaho any person 14 years of age or older must have a valid fishing license. Anglers younger than 14 do not need a license, but there is a small difference between resident and nonresident youth.

  • A resident child under 14 has their own separate fishing limit.
  • A nonresident child under 14 must be with someone who has a valid fishing license and their fish are in included in the license holders fishing limit. However, a nonresident child may purchase their own license and have their own limit.

Special fishing permits are need for some activities for both residents and nonresidents:

  • Fishing for salmon and steelhead
  • Fishing with two poles

Purchase Licenses,Tags and Permits

Idaho Fishing Regulations

View Idaho Panhandle Region Map and Special Rules Waters

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Daily bag limits on Coeur d’Alene Lake

  • Chinook salmon limit is 2, none under 20 inches
  • Bass limit is 6, largemouth and smallmouth combined
  • Kokanee limit is 15 (limit on tribal waters is 25)
  • Trout limit is 6, except
    • Cutthroat, no harvest
    • Bull Trout, catch and release only
    • Brook Trout, limit of 25

Coeur d’Alene Tribe Fishing Regulations (applies on tribal waters)

Invasive Species Permit

Who needs an Invasive Species Sticker?

Idaho law requires the owner of any boat and any non-motorized vessel to buy and display an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker to legally launch and operate the boat in Idaho.

This includes:

  • motor boats,
  • jet boats,
  • canoes,
  • kayaks,
  • rafts,
  • drift boats

This does not include:

  • inflatable, non-motorized vessels less than 10 feet long

Important Note To Boaters with vessels requiring Idaho registration:

For all vessels requiring registration in Idaho, the Invasive Species fee is included in the registration price. This separate Invasive Species Sticker is not required.