Cutthroat trout

Fourth of July weekend is a favorite time for Idahoans and visitors to get out and enjoy the outdoors. It also happens to be an excellent time to go fishing, and Fish and Game wants to help anglers find places to fish.

We asked biologists, conservation officers and communications managers to come up with some good opportunities for Fourth of July weekend and summer fishing, and they provided some great options. These are a fraction of the fishing opportunities in Idaho, and to find more check out Fish and Game's Fishing Planner for lots more locations and details.

Many fishing waters are at or near their prime time for the season, particularly rivers and mountain lakes, but many other weekend getaways also provide excellent fishing.

The reason we point out rivers and mountain lakes is many rivers opened for fishing on Memorial Day weekend, but were running high and cold from snowmelt. Most rivers have now subsided and warmed a little, which tends to make fish more active and hungry.

Ditto for mountain lakes, but be forewarned, most Idaho mountains had big snowfall during winter, and some of that snow remains so not all lakes will be accessible.

That said, Fourth of July weekend is the typical kick-off for high country fishing, which is a great opportunity to get out and explore the backcountry.

Clearwater Region

North Fork Clearwater River This river has a variety of species, but is best known for its spectacular cutthroat trout fishing that reside in its deep pools. The North Fork provides some of the best dry fly fishing for cutthroat trout in the state. From Lewiston, it takes a little over two hours to get to the Aquarius Campground as you head west up Highway 12 through Orofino. Aquarius Campground hosts a nice beach, running water, picnic benches, and beautiful campsites near the river. Barbless hooks are required on the North Fork Clearwater upstream of Dworshak Reservoir.

Lochsa River This river is a 70-mile-long tributary of the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River in the Clearwater National Forest. It begins in the Selway Bitterroot Mountains and flows to Lowell, Idaho where it joins the Selway River to form the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River. The Lochsa River has a good population of westslope cutthroat trout along with some rainbows, and mountain whitefish. Cutthroats can average 12 inches and go up to 20 inches or more. Steelhead and Chinook salmon can be found in the lower part of the river. The word “Lochsa” means rough water. In addition to fishing, the Lochsa is also known for its whitewater rafting, and there are several Forest Service campgrounds along the river.

Deyo Reservoir Nestled amid farms and timber, beautiful Deyo Reservoir provides a great family fishing experience. A maintained trail surrounding the entire reservoir has seven fishing docks and two large fishing peninsulas, making it easy to find a good place to fish. There is also a developed campground, boat ramp, picnic shelter, swimming beach, benches, and two handicap-accessible docks. Campground reservations can be made by calling the Weippe Chamber of Commerce at (208) 435-4406. Rainbow trout are stocked heavily in the spring through fall. Bluegill, largemouth bass and pumpkin seed can also be found in Deyo Reservoir.

Deer Creek Reservoir This is a beautiful mountain reservoir located 11 miles north of the town of Pierce on Idaho 11 and was built specifically for trout fishing. Rainbow trout are stocked from spring through fall in this remote setting for high catch rates from shore or a boat. To add variety, this lake is also stocked with sterile brook trout and tiger trout. Boaters, please observe the no-wake restriction.

Elk Creek Reservoir The reservoir is bordered by a forested road along the entire west side for easy access to fishing areas, with four fishing docks and a boat ramp. The east side of the reservoir provides great boat fishing opportunities where foot access is difficult. This reservoir is stocked with thousands of rainbow trout from spring through fall to improve fishing success. Elk Creek Reservoir is near the town of Elk River, 55 miles east of Moscow, and at the end of State Highway 8. Drive to the eastern edge of the town of Elk River and signs will direct you to the reservoir. Other fish species found at Elk Creek Reservoir include bluegill, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, brook trout, smallmouth bass, and white crappie.

Winchester Lake Located just south of the town of Winchester off of Hwy 95, this lake is in a beautiful forested setting with very easy access. Docks and fishing platforms enhance fishing opportunities for beginners and accomplished anglers. Facilities include a picnic shelter, fish cleaning station, swimming beach, benches and picnic tables, and a range of camping options. Many facilities are located in Winchester State Park, where an entrance fee applies. Thousands of rainbow trout are stocked in the spring and fall. Year round, you will find good fishing, plenty of recreation activities and wildlife viewing opportunities. Many other warm water fish species can be found at this popular fishing location. And with the new State Park Fishing Equipment Loaner Program offered in conjunction with Idaho Parks and Recreation, anglers can borrow fishing gear at the nearby Winchester Park Visitor’s Center.

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