Fishing Close to Home in Spokane & North Idaho

Crystal Atamian

Lakes and river canyons drawn by the Missoula flood are the backdrop, the murals, of our urban landscapes. So if you are in love with rivers cut by the world’s greatest flood, look no further than your own front yard. Want less drive time, or to take advantage of the longer daylight hours to go fishing after work?

Here are some places to check out nearer to town that require only feet or a small boat.

Tumtum and Lake Spokane

Randy Osborne, district fisheries biologist for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, recommends Lake Spokane for both fishing from the shoreline and small boats like kayaks or canoes. WDFW and Avista have been stocking the reservoir northwest of Riverside State Park with 155,000 triploid rainbow trout. Triploid fish are hatchery raised and cannot crossbreed with wild trout.

“May is a magical month,” says Osborne. “The water is cool enough that trout are really active, but some parts of the reservoir (Lake Spokane) have warmed up enough that crappie and perch are in the shallows and more available.”

For bank anglers, Osborne recommends fishing the turnouts downstream of Tumtum, right off Highway 291. Also recommended is the boat launch along the peninsula where the Little Spokane river runs into Long Lake. It is accessible via Highway 291 and N. Shoemaker Ln. As far as regulations go, this spot is considered part of Long Lake.

Another access is Willow Bay Resort. While they do charge for launch and dock fishing, it is centrally located near Tumtum, about halfway down the reservoir.

Catch Black Crappie when fishing at Lake Spokane. // Photo: Randy Osborne

Liberty Lake, Wash.

Osborne says Liberty Lake has seen some good fishing over the last couple of years. Boats can launch at the WDFW access site, and fishing is allowed off the pier. The season opens each year on March 1 and WDFW works hard to get the lake stocked by that date. However, late this summer WDFW may be redeveloping that site and there could be closures while they redo the pier.

Fernan Lake, Idaho

Fernan Lake has two boat ramps and most of the northern shoreline is publicly accessible, making this a great spot to get your feet wet near Coeur d’ Alene. Fernan Park and the lake’s western boat launch are right off I-90.

Post Falls Park Pond, Idaho

Andy Dux with Idaho Fish and Game also recommends the pond at Falls Park in Post Falls, east of Avista and the Post Falls Dam. This pond is heavily stocked with rainbow trout, easily accessible from town, is open all year, and provides great opportunities for family fishing.

Sandpoint, Idaho Area: Pend Oreille, Round, Cocolalla, and Shepherd Lakes

Urban fishing near the town of Sandpoint is limited without a good boat, but good shoreline fishing can be had at Sandpoint City Beach. However, there are some great options within 15 minutes of downtown at Round Lake State Park, Cocolalla Lake, and Shepherd Lake, all of which are just south of Sagle, Idaho, and proximate to Highway 95.

Round Lake has good shoreline fishing and is good for small boats. Cocolalla Lake is great for small boats, canoes, and kayaks but does not have much access for shoreline fishing. Shepherd Lake is ideal for small boats, with some nice shoreline access on the west side of the lake.

Remember any boat or watercraft (even kayaks, canoes, and drift boats) need an Invasive Species Sticker in Idaho. Purchase one online or at a licensed vendor.

Crystal Atamian is a trail runner and organic gardener whose son is teaching her to love fishing. She has written about huckleberry picking, solar installation, and several destination hikes for Out There.

Three rainbow trout in a fishing net.
Find rainbow trout when fishing near Tumtum. // Photo: Randy Osborne

Read more fishing stories in the OTO archives.

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