Idaho flyfishing
Idaho Warm Water Fish


About Idaho | Fly Fishing Report | From the Fly Box | Gear Review
News | Idaho flyfisher Online Magazine | Home


Warmwater species are abundant throughout Idaho and are fast becoming a economically viable sportfishing pursuit. The spiny ray family of warmwater fish are the most common and the most sought after by members of the whole family. Bass, both Large and Smallmouth are found as far North as the panhandle lakes such as Hayden, Couer deí Alene, and Lake Pend Oreille, and in Eastern Idaho in Ririe and Mudd Lake. The primary location for both species of bass are along the Snake River drainage ranging from South Central Idaho through South Western Idaho into the North Central region.. Crappie, bluegill, perch and other spiny rays can be found almost anywhere there is a small impoundment of water throughout Idaho. Like their big brothers, bass, the smaller spiny ray species have acclamated to the Snake River drainage.

At least four species of Catfish roam throughout Idahoís lower elevation rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Some Flatheadís and blue's have recently been caught in the twenty five pound range. Channels, and bullheads are favorites among the worm dunking crowd. Other warmwater species include; Walleye, Northern Pike, and an exotic species, Tiger Muskie.


Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass The Largemouth Bass, bucketmouth, hawg, bigmouth and black bass to name a few, was introduced to Idaho in the late 1800ís. These predominately lake and pond dwelling fish are located throughout Idaho and prefer warmer waters with extensive weed beds, tules, Lilly pads and other types of cover. They can be found in every region of Idaho but are primarily located in the Northern and South Western regions in major reservoirs and lower elevation lakes and ponds. Of the warmwater game fish the Largemouth bass is certainly the most highly sought after by anglers throughout the United States. The Idaho state record is 10 pounds 15 ounces, caught in Anderson Lake, a chain of lakes on the Coeur dí Alene River. Largemouth bass can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.


Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass The Smallmouth bass, or bronzeback, is acclaimed by many sporstmen as Americaís fightingest game fish. They were introduced to Idaho in the late 1800ís as part of the Westís new vision of a cornucopia. These fierce fighters are located in many of the major river systems in Idaho and prefer the cooler running water of streams and rivers. However, they have been successful at dominating many of Southwestern Idahoís reservoirs and rivers. They are the most popular warmwater game fish in Idaho mostly because of their wide distribution and angling excitement. The state record was broken in 1995 on Dworshak Reservoir with a 8 pound, one-half ounce, bronzeback landed by a local angler. Smallmouth bass can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.


Crappie (white and black)

Crappie Crappie are possibly the most popular table fish caught in Idaho today. These little filets of delicacy are found through out Idaho and are primarily located in smaller impoundmentís such as farm and livestock ponds. However, many of the major reservoirs in both Southwestern, Central and Northern Idaho boast large populations of both Black and White Crappie. For years, the number one fishing hole in Idaho, Brownlee Reservoir, has been a popular spot for Crappie fishing. The current state record for White Crappie is 3 pounds and 1 ounce caught at Crane Creek Reservoir on 5/27/01. A state record Black Crappie of 3 pounds 5.3 ounces was also caught in Lake Lowell on 5/17/01. Crappie can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.


Perch

Yellow Perch Perch are both touted as Idahoís number one ice-fishing re-treat and fishing nemesis. These prolific sunfish are popular by winter-time anglers who cherish thier white-flakey meat. Their ability to over-populate other popular fishing haunts has made them the target of controversy. They were introduced to Idaho about the same time as other warmwater species but have remained somewhat isolated in their dispersal. Only a few major lakes in Southwestern Idaho, and South-central Idaho have any strong holds of Perch populations. The state record Perch was caught on Wilson Lake in 1976 ansd weighed 2 pounds and 9.6 ounces. Perch can be found in North, Southwest and Eastern Idaho.


Bluegill

Bluegill Bluegill have found their way to many of Idahoís small impoundmentís and ponds. They thrive on shallow, isolated weed beds or tules, and are great fun for light tackle and teaching kids the enjoyment of fishing. These little spiny-rays are good to eat, fun to catch and offer hours of enjoyable diversion for the family. The state record Bluegill weighed 3 pounds and 8 ounces and was caught in 1966 on C.J. Strike Reservior. Bluegill can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.


Walleye

Walleye Walleye are one of Americaís most popular warmwater species, however because of their limited range in Idahoís river and lakes, they are only sought out by a few anglers each year. They are located in only two known impoundmentís, Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir and Onida Reservoir. The state record Walleye is 17 pounds and 2 ounces and was caught by Bill Sorensen of Kuna, Idaho. Walleye can be found in Southwest and Eastern Idaho.


Other warmwater game species

Channel Catfish

Channelcat Channel Catfish were introduced to Idaho in the late 1800ís, and have found their way into most of the states major river and lake systems. Thriving on a mirad of carnage and bottom debris the catfish quickly adapted to most any body of water in Idaho. Lakes, ponds, streams and rivers in the lower elevations all have one form of catfish or another. The average Channel Catfish is about 2-4 pounds and can get as big as 20 to 30 pounds in the larger river and lake systems. The state record Channel Catfish weighed 31 lbs. .05 ounces and was caught in Mann Lake on 8/25/01. Channel catfish can be found in North, Southwest and Eastern Idaho.


Flathead Catfish

Flatheadcat Flathead Catfish, unlike their cousins the Channel Catfish, were not introduced to the West until much later (1950ís and 60ís) and were only introduced to a few major river systems and impoundmentís. There they have remained, with only marginal expansion. Specimens of over one hundred pounds have been recorded, but the largest Flathead Catfish in Idaho was caught at the head waters of Brownlee Reservoir in 1994 and weighed 58 pounds 8 ounces. Flathead catfish can be found in Southwest and Eastern Idaho.


Blue Catfish

Bluecat Blue Catfish are the largest members of the catfish family and can be found in only a few rivers and lakes in Idaho. Their large size and sparse populations make them a rare catch but often bagged in the headwaters of Brownlee Reservoir. Blue catfish can be found in Southwest Idaho.


Bullhead Catfish

Bullhead Bullhead or mud catfish are found in many of Idahoís low-land ponds and small lakes. They are highly adaptive to poor water conditions and live in areas with low oxygen and high water turbidity. The state record was caught in Brownlee Reservoir in 1986 and weighed 3 lbs. 14 oz. Bullhead catfish can be found in North and Eastern Idaho.


Northern Pike

Northern Pike are located only in Northern Idaho and have a large following of avid anglers who seek out these denizens of the weed beds. The Northern Pike is probably the most voracious of all fresh-water game fish and their aggressive attacks on baits have left many a tall-tale. The old state record Northern Pike was tied in 2002! The fish weighed 38 pounds and 9 ounces, and was caught in Hayden Lake, the 1992 record for the same weight was caught in Coeur dí Alene Lake in 1992. Northern pike can be found inNorth Idaho.


Tiger Muskie

Tiger muskie were only recently introduced to Idaho as an experiment to help control other species through predation. These smaller but voracious fighters are hybrid and cannot reproduce. This keeps their population under control while helping to rid some waters of roughage fish such as carp and suckers from either prime warm-water or trout fisheries. The state record Tiger Muskie weighed 38 pounds and 7 ounces and was caught in 2001 on Hauser Lake in North Idaho. Tiger muskie can be found in North and Eastern Idaho.


World's Best Wildlife Identification Charts and Posters from Windsor
                   Nature Discovery
Fish images provided by
Windsor Nature Discovery

Official List of Idaho Record Fish