Bikepack Fishing at Inland Northwest Lakes

Bikepacking, where you load your ride up with camping gear and hit the back roads and trails for a few days, has exploded in popularity. However, bikepacking for the sake of fishing, is still a relatively fringe activity. With hundreds of lakes scattered around the Inland NW, many of which offer camping, it’s the perfect place to plan a “fishpacking” trip.

I haven’t yet packed a fishing rod on a bikepacking trip, but it’s something I’ve thought about lately. Here are a few lakes that would make great destinations, but with so many lakes to choose from you can come up with your own route that hits one or more lakes that have quality fishing and camping.

Pend Oreille County in northeast Washington has a great combination of small lakes with good fishing, lightly-travelled back roads (many of them gravel), and inexpensive campgrounds and even free camping at Forest Service dispersed campsites. Browns, Bead, and North and South Skookum lakes, among others in the area, are all good options.

Do your research since many smaller lakes have various fishing restrictions. For instance, Brown’s Lake is a fly-fishing only lake, and lead fishing weights/tackle are prohibited at South Skookum and a few other small regional lakes to protect loons.

Bike loading with gear parked near Fishtrap Lake.
Bikepacking to Fishtrap Lake. // Photo: Carol Corbin

Try using the Columbia Plateau Trail near Cheney as a bikepacking thoroughfare to reach one or more fishing lakes in the Channeled Scablands. Not all of the Scablands lakes have places to camp so do your research before heading out.

In North Idaho, Round Lake near Sandpoint or Spirit, Twin, and Hauser lakes further south have various fishing and camping options.

In addition to your standard bikepacking gear (check out for gear recommendations), you’ll also need to secure or stow a collapsible rod and reel, fly rod, fishing tackle, and a fishing license and copy of the fishing regulations for whatever state you’ll be in.

And before you load up and head out, check in with the land and wildlife management agencies or private campgrounds in charge of the fishing and camping at your destination to make sure there are no unexpected restrictions in place.

For more stories about fishing, visit the OTO archives.

Visit the 2021 Lake Guide for more destination ideas.

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