Fishing Tips for Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Oreille, located in northern Idaho, is renowned for its fishing opportunities. It is home to fish species like Trout, Bass, Walleye, Kokanee, etc. This gives anglers the opportunity to find and catch a variety of fish.

The lake is known for producing trophy-sized fish, particularly the Gerrard rainbow trout, a strain of rainbow trout that can grow exceptionally large. In fact, the lake once held the world record for the largest rainbow trout.

The lake’s location in the Selkirk Mountain Range provides a breathtaking backdrop for fishing. The clear waters, surrounded by mountains and forests, make for a serene fishing experience.

Around Lake Pend Oreille, you’ll find several bait shops, fishing guides, and boat rental services catering to anglers. This makes it easy to enjoy a day on the water.

Lake Pend Oreille Characteristics

  • Location: Northern Idaho Panhandle, United States. It is surrounded by national forests and has a few small towns around it, with Sandpoint being the largest town on the lake. The majority of the lake’s shoreline is in Bonner County, while the southern tip is in Kootenai County.
  • Area: The lake has a surface area of 148 square miles (380 km²), making it the largest lake in Idaho and the 38th-largest lake by area in the United States. It has a shoreline of 144 miles.
  • Depth: Lake Pend Oreille is 1,152 feet (351 m) deep in some regions, making it the fifth-deepest lake in the nation. It has been measured to have depths in excess of 1,170 feet, making it one of the deepest inland lakes in North America.
  • Origin: The lake was formed by glaciers and is encircled by mountain peaks and deep green forests. It is a natural glacial lake.
  • Water Temperature: In general, the lake can experience temperatures ranging from near freezing in the winter to around 70°F (21°C) in the summer at the surface. The shallow areas near the lake outlet are popular for ice fishing in winter.
  • Controlling Authority: Idaho Department of Fish and Game

what fish are in Lake Pend Oreille

  • Lake Trout (Mackinaw): Lake trout are large, slow-growing fish known for their deep-water habitat. They have a dark body with light spots and can grow up to several feet long.
  • Rainbow Trout: Known for their vibrant colors and the pink stripe along their sides. Gerrard rainbow trout in Lake Pend Oreille can grow to trophy sizes.
  • Largemouth Bass: Characterized by a largemouth that extends beyond the eyes, and a greenish to brownish body.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Similar to largemouth bass but with a smaller mouth and more streamlined body.
  • Crappie: A panfish species with a compressed body and a large dorsal fin. They can have a silvery color with shades of green or brown.
  • Walleye: Known for their olive or brown body, white underbelly, and large, glassy eyes.
  • Northern Pike: Easily recognizable by their elongated bodies, sharp teeth, and a pattern of light markings on a darker background.
  • Kokanee Salmon: A landlocked version of the sockeye salmon, kokanee are smaller and have a bluish-silver color.

Best fishing spots on Lake Pend Oreille

  • Highway 95 Long Bridge: This location has had the most individual walleye detected.
  • Railroad Bridge: Another hotspot for walleye based on recent reports.
  • Deep Waters: For lake trout and deep-dwelling rainbow trout, the deeper parts of the lake are ideal.
  • Shorelines: For smallmouth and largemouth bass, the rocky and weedy shorelines provide excellent habitat.
  • Near the Lake Outlet: This area is popular for ice fishing in winter, likely good for species like crappie.

How to Find Fish

Finding fish in a large lake Pend Oreille can be both challenging and rewarding. 

Fish finder can be an invaluable tool for locating fish in deeper waters. A fish finder uses sonar to map the underwater topography and locate schools of fish, which can be particularly useful for species like lake trout that tend to dwell in deeper parts of the lake.

Given that Lake Pend Oreille is one of the deepest lakes in the U.S. and offers a diverse range of fishing environments, you might want to consider a fish finder with the GPS, side imaging, and a high-resolution display.

Local knowledge is another invaluable resource. Talking to local anglers, fishing guides, or visiting bait and tackle shops can provide insights into where the fish are biting. They can give you specific tips on locations, bait, and fishing methods for targeting different species.

Observation plays a key role as well. Look for signs of fish activity like jumping fish, birds diving to catch fish, or even schools of smaller fish that bigger fish might be feeding on. The presence of water plants, underwater structures, or natural formations like points and drop-offs can also indicate good fishing spots.

How to Catch Fish

Catching Fish successfully in Lake Pend Oreille requires a combination of equipment, knowledge, and techniques tailored to the specific conditions and fish species in the lake. Here’s a list of what you need for lake fishing:


  1. Fishing Rod & Reel: A medium to heavy action rod with a spinning or baitcasting reel suitable for freshwater fishing.
  2. Fishing Line: Consider using a strong monofilament or braided line, especially if you’re targeting larger species like lake trout or bull trout.
  3. Hooks and Sinkers: Varying sizes depending on the fish you are targeting.
  4. Bait and Lures: Live bait like worms or artificial lures such as spinners and spoons. Specific lures like Jigging Spoons could be useful for kokanee salmon.
  5. Fishing Net: A good-sized net to land your fish safely.
  6. Tackle Box: To keep all your hooks, lures, and other accessories organized.


  • Local Regulations: Make sure you’re aware of and comply with all fishing regulations, including seasons, bag limits, and size limits. A fishing license from the Idaho Fish and Game is usually required.
  • Fish Species: Understanding the behavior and preferred habitat of the fish species you’re targeting (e.g., kokanee salmon, Kamloops rainbow trout, bull trout, lake trout).
  • Water Temperature: The water temperature can influence fish behavior and location.
  • Lake Topography: Knowing the lake’s depth, structure, and currents can help you find fish more effectively.


  • Trolling: This technique works well for deeper-dwelling species like lake trout and certain kinds of rainbow trout.
  • Casting: Effective for species that stay close to shore, like bass and pike.
  • Jigging: This technique can be effective for walleye, especially near the bottom.
  • Still Fishing: Good for crappie and other panfish; involves baiting a hook and letting it sit.
  • Fly Fishing: Effective for rainbow and cutthroat trout, especially in shallower waters or near the surface.

Species-Specific Tips

  • Walleye: Fish during low light conditions in shallow flats and rocky shorelines early in the summer. As weeds grow, focus on the edges and beds.
  • Rainbow Trout: Fly fishing, trolling, and spinning are effective methods.
  • Bass: For both large and smallmouth bass, focus on shallower, rocky, or weedy areas. Jigging, casting, and trolling are effective methods.
  • Crappie: Fish in shallower areas near structures like submerged trees using jigs or live bait.

Lake Pend Oreille Fishing Trip Photos

catching fish in Lake Pend Oreille
successful fishing trip in Lake Pend Oreille. Child holding fish.