Know What Fish Species can Be Found In Local Lakes and Rivers

There are lots of different species of fish to be found in waterways close to major Inland Northwest cities, including Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Sandpoint. Here is what you can expect to catch on your rod.


Expect to find lots of rainbow trout when fishing the turnouts downstream of Tumtum, as well as smallmouth bass, black crappie, and yellow perch. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) also encourages northern pike harvest. In Lake Spokane (aka Long Lake), year-round statewide rules apply.

Because of contaminants and to protect redband trout, the Spokane River from Nine Mile Dam to Idaho is now one section with one set of regulations. There are selective gear rules, no bait, barbless hooks, and you can keep two hatchery rainbow trout per day; everything else is catch and release.

Washington and Idaho’s Department of Health recommend checking fish advisories. In some areas it may mean limiting certain types of fish eaten or not eating fish at all.

Man holding a redband trout with two hands, one hand under the belly and another at the tail.
Catching (to release) a prized redband trout. // Photo: Sean Visintainer, Silver Bow Fly Shop.

Coeur d’Alene

Fernan Lake, near Coeur d’Alene, is open for fishing all year. You can find bluegill/pumpkinseed/sunfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass (in shallow, warm water April-May, moving out to deeper water in summer), catfish, yellow perch, rainbow and brook trout, and white crappie.


Look for largemouth bass, catfish, white crappie, yellow perch as well as rainbow, cutthroat, brook, and brown trout at Cocolalla Lake. Round Lake has bluegill/pumpkinseed/sunfish, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, brook and rainbow trout. Unique to Shepherd Lake is tiger muskie, but you’ll also find largemouth bass, bluegill/pumpkinseed/sunfish, and yellow perch.

For all three lakes there are bag limits and restrictions for certain species.

Originally published as “Fish Found Near Your Front Door” in the May-June 2021 issue as a sidebar for “Fishing Close to Home” feature story.

Man holding Black Crappie fish and smiling at the camera.
Black Crappie caught at Lake Spokane. // Photo: Randy Osborne

[Feature photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – rainbow trout.]

Read more fishing stories in the OTO archives.

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