Lake Pend Oreille Fishing

Famous For Large Rainbow Trout and Mackinaw

Pend Oreille Lake is well-known for its large rainbow trout. Historically called Kamloops, these outsized rainbows are now more commonly recognized as Gierrard rainbow trout imported from Canada in the mid-1940’s to feed on the millions of kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon) the lake had at that time.

Always a great fisherman, Rob Dearman displays one of his many Lake Pend Oreille trophy Gierrard rainbows.

Now, however, we are seeing an increasing number of other species that have made their way via the Clark Fork River watershed into the Pend Oreille Lake reservoir.
Whether you like it or not, Pike are now in the Pend Oreille Lake water system.

New Species Now Growing in Numbers

For a number of reasons, not intended for this short post, we now have Northern Pike, walleye, and smallmouth bass in multiplying numbers taking over water that once was reserved naturally for largemouth bass.
I grew up in Sandpoint during the 60’s and can attest that we seldom saw any of these spiny ray species. Now however, we are seeing them regularly and people are fishing for them intentionally. Pike, smallmouth and walleye are taking over the shorelines and sloughs where historically we harvested largemouth and crappie and perch.

Rob Dearman displays a nice Lake Pend Oreille walleye, great table faire.

Who’s to say where it’s all headed?

It’s a hard notion to say where it’s going. Some people really like the sport afforded by feisty smallmouth and the surprising size of pike like this one. As for walleye, though the Department of Fish & Wildlife has tried to curtail walleye, they are a favorite food fish for hundreds of people who eat self-caught fish.
I guess my point is this: once a system starts to change, it changes and there is little man can do about it. We hope therefore and make effort always to minimize change that hurts native populations of fish. The same is true for wild game and fowl. We didn’t have turkeys here either until they were introduced in the early 70’s. Now they are everywhere in the Panhandle forest and ranch ecosystem.

Make the best of it

So that’s about all we can do: adapt and make the best out of the situation. As for fishing, we certainly now have far more opportunity for a wider display of catches. It’s fun to learn how each is caught and for those who harvest, there’s now a wider choice.

Rob Dearman of Sandpoint, proudly displays 2 hefty smallmouth bass he took in 40′ of water from Pend Oreille Lake fishing plastic worms.

Largemouth have long been in the Pend Oreille system and they are still here in abundance. But smallmouth, walleye and pike are moving in. Each year sees more and more of the latter three.

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