best ice fishing in idaho

Best Ice Fishing in Idaho – A Locals Guide To The Best Spots

As locals who’ve grown up amidst Idaho’s majestic mountains and serene lakes, we’ve come to cherish the winter wonderland that our home transforms into, especially for ice fishing. From the scenic Panhandle to the tranquil waters of the Salmon Region, our beloved Gem State offers a myriad of ice fishing spots that promise both thrill and a rewarding catch.

Whether you’re in pursuit of that elusive trophy trout or yearning for a serene moment on a frozen expanse, we’re here to guide you through the best spots our state has to offer. Dive into our local’s guide on the best ice fishing in Idaho, and uncover the treasures that lie beneath the ice, right in our backyard.

Best Ice Fishing in Idaho

Panhandle Region

Fernan Lake Near Coeur d’Alene

Fernan Lake, situated close to the lively town of Coeur d’Alene, is an ice fishing enthusiast’s dream. Covering 423 acres, this lake offers more than just scenic beauty; it’s a hotspot for a diverse range of fish, including the coveted trout.

Its convenient location means less travel and more fishing time, making it perfect for both quick trips and extended stays. The surrounding snow-draped mountains and dense forests provide a serene backdrop, enhancing the fishing experience.

Moreover, its popularity among locals ensures that the ice conditions are regularly checked for safety, and there’s always a fellow angler nearby ready to share some insider tips. In essence, Fernan Lake combines the best of nature, accessibility, and community, making it a top ice fishing destination in Idaho.

Located just east off Interstate 90, access is from the county boat launch on the west and northeast ends of the lake. You can also access the water from Fernan Lake Road. The lake offers rainbow trout, panfish, bass, and channel catfish.

Cocolalla Lake

Cocolalla Lake, nestled in Bonners County just off U.S. 95 south of Sandpoint, is a haven for those seeking a memorable ice fishing experience. Spanning 803 acres, this lake is renowned for its rich bounty of trout, perch, and a medley of other species, making it a magnet for anglers of all skill levels.

Its expansive icy surface, set against a backdrop of pristine wilderness, offers not only abundant fishing opportunities but also breathtaking views that elevate the experience. The lake’s popularity within the local fishing community is a testament to its abundant catches and the camaraderie shared on its icy expanse.

For those looking to merge the thrill of fishing with the tranquility of nature, Cocolalla Lake is an unmatched destination in Idaho.

Located about a half hour north of Hayden, Cocalalla offers a variety of trout including brook trout, rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout. It also has healthy populations of yellow perch, bass and channel catfish.

Upper and Lower Twin Lakes

Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, nestled in Kootenai County north of Rathdrum, offer a dual ice fishing experience that’s hard to match elsewhere. Together, they span over 900 acres, providing ample space for anglers to spread out and find their perfect fishing spot.

What makes these twin lakes truly unique is the diversity of fish they house. From trout and perch to the vibrant kokanee, the variety ensures that every trip can yield a different catch. Their close proximity to each other means anglers can easily switch between the two, effectively doubling their chances of a successful day.

Lower Twin Lake is famous for its kokanee but both hold a variety of species including pan fish.

Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake, located in the Panhandle Region of Idaho, is a hidden gem for ice fishing aficionados. This pristine body of water offers a unique fishing experience, setting it apart from other destinations. One of its standout features is its diverse aquatic ecosystem, ensuring that anglers can expect a varied catch ranging from trout to other local species.

Because of its popularity among the local community, there’s a wealth of shared knowledge and tips available for newcomers. The combination of its rich biodiversity, stunning natural beauty, and the warm camaraderie of the local fishing community makes Spirit Lake a truly unique and rewarding ice fishing destination in Idaho.

Clearwater Region

ice fishing in idaho

Winchester Lake

Winchester Lake, gracefully positioned in Lewis County and forming the heart of Winchester Lake State Park, is a beacon for ice fishing enthusiasts. Covering 103 acres, this lake is not just a visual treat but also a hub for diverse aquatic life.

What sets Winchester Lake apart is its dual offering of trout and perch, catering to both seasoned anglers and those just dipping their toes into the world of ice fishing. Its status as a state park ensures well-maintained amenities and safety measures, enhancing the overall fishing experience.

Spring Valley Reservoir

Spring Valley Reservoir, tucked away near Troy in Latah County, is a great spot for ice fishing. Spanning 49 acres, this reservoir might seem modest in size, but it’s a powerhouse when it comes to trout fishing.

Its unique charm lies in its specialization: while many lakes offer a range of fish, Spring Valley Reservoir is predominantly a trout haven, making it a dream destination for those passionate about trout fishing.

Elk Creek Reservoir

Elk Creek Reservoir, situated near the quaint town of Elk River in Clearwater County, is a captivating destination for ice fishing enthusiasts. Covering 87 acres, this reservoir is a sanctuary for trout, making it a hotspot for those eager to reel in this prized catch.

Its location near Elk River means that while it offers a secluded feel, amenities and local expertise are never far away. The combination of its abundant trout population, the serene ambiance, and the convenience of nearby facilities makes Elk Creek Reservoir a standout ice fishing destination in Idaho.

Southwest Region and McCall

cascade lake best fishing in idaho

Lake Cascade

Lake Cascade, sprawling across 47 square miles and ranking as the fourth largest lake/reservoir in Idaho, is a mecca for ice fishing enthusiasts. Its vast expanse is teeming with a diverse range of fish, but it’s particularly renowned for its large perch, with several state and world records attributed to its waters.

Beyond its abundant fish population, Lake Cascade has garnered a national reputation for producing trophy trout and hosting numerous ice fishing tournaments, drawing anglers from all corners. The lake’s sheer size ensures that even on its busiest days, there’s a quiet spot waiting for every fisherman.

Set against a backdrop of majestic mountains and dense forests, the experience at Lake Cascade is as much about the breathtaking scenery as it is about the thrill of the catch. For those seeking a blend of adventure, beauty, and the promise of a bountiful haul, Lake Cascade stands unmatched in Idaho’s ice fishing scene.

Horsethief Reservoir

Horsethief Reservoir, nestled amidst Idaho’s picturesque landscapes, is a dream come true for ice fishing enthusiasts. Covering approximately 260 acres, this reservoir is distinctively managed and owned by the Idaho Fish and Game, ensuring its waters are teeming with fish, particularly the vibrant rainbow trout.

What sets Horsethief Reservoir apart is its commitment to conservation and fishing quality; it’s frequently stocked, guaranteeing anglers a rewarding experience every time they cast their line.

The reservoir’s serene setting, surrounded by dense woodlands and the distant murmur of wildlife, offers a tranquil escape from the daily grind. Its clear waters reflect the sky, creating a mesmerizing backdrop for a day of fishing.

Mann Creek Reservoir

Mann Creek Reservoir, located just north of Weiser, is a hidden gem in Idaho’s ice fishing landscape. Spanning over 283 acres, this reservoir is a delightful blend of natural beauty and angling potential. One of its standout features is the presence of both stocked and wild rainbow trout, offering anglers the thrill of diverse fishing experiences in a single location.

The reservoir’s clear waters, set against rolling hills and a canopy of trees, provide a serene ambiance that amplifies the joy of fishing. Its relatively lesser-known status compared to other fishing spots ensures a peaceful experience, free from the usual crowds.

Moreover, its proximity to Weiser means easy access to amenities without compromising on the feeling of being in a secluded paradise. For those seeking a tranquil yet rewarding ice fishing adventure, Mann Creek Reservoir is a must-visit in Idaho.

Magic Valley Region

ice fishing idaho

Magic Reservoir

Magic Reservoir, situated in the heart of Idaho’s Magic Valley Region, truly lives up to its enchanting name when it comes to ice fishing. Covering a vast 3,700 acres, this reservoir is a hotspot for both trout and perch, making it a favorite among seasoned anglers and novices alike.

What sets Magic Reservoir apart is its consistent ice conditions, ensuring a safe and rewarding fishing experience throughout the winter months. The reservoir’s expansive icy surface, juxtaposed against the rugged landscapes of the surrounding hills, offers a visual treat that’s as captivating as the fishing itself.

Its reputation as a popular ice fishing destination means there’s a vibrant community of anglers, always ready to share tips, stories, and camaraderie. For an ice fishing experience that combines the thrill of the catch with the magic of nature, Magic Reservoir is an unparalleled choice in Idaho.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, gracefully stretching across the southern edge of Idaho, is an ice fishing destination that promises both diversity and abundance. Encompassing over 2,700 acres, this reservoir is renowned for its rich variety of fish, including trout, perch, and the elusive walleye.

But what truly distinguishes Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir is its unique ecosystem, which supports a blend of both warm-water and cold-water fish species, offering anglers a multifaceted fishing experience. The reservoir’s serene environment, with its shimmering waters set against a backdrop of rugged cliffs and rolling landscapes, provides a tranquil setting for a day of fishing.

Little Wood Reservoir

Little Wood Reservoir, tucked away in Idaho’s Magic Valley Region, is a delightful oasis for ice fishing enthusiasts. Though its name might suggest modesty, this reservoir, spanning 720 acres, is abundant in its offerings. Renowned primarily for its thriving population of rainbow trout, Little Wood provides anglers with the promise of a fruitful catch in a serene setting.

The reservoir’s clear, icy expanse, framed by gentle hills and a canopy of trees, creates an idyllic backdrop for a day of fishing. Its waters, often undisturbed by large crowds, provide a peaceful and immersive fishing experience. For those seeking a quiet, yet rewarding ice fishing adventure away from the usual hotspots, Little Wood Reservoir emerges as a top choice in Idaho.

Southeast Region

idaho ice fishing

Chesterfield Reservoir

Chesterfield Reservoir, nestled in the southeastern part of Idaho, is a hidden jewel for ice fishing aficionados. Covering a modest 126 acres, this reservoir might seem unassuming at first glance, but it’s a powerhouse of fishing potential.

Chesterfield is particularly celebrated for its diverse trout species, offering anglers the thrill of reeling in various trout varieties in a single trip. What sets it apart is its pristine environment, characterized by crystal-clear waters and the gentle hum of surrounding wildlife.

This tranquility ensures an intimate fishing experience, allowing anglers to truly connect with nature. Its relatively lesser-known status means fewer crowds, ensuring a serene and undisturbed fishing session. For those looking to immerse themselves in a pure, unadulterated ice fishing experience, Chesterfield Reservoir stands as a unique and rewarding destination in Idaho.

Daniels Reservoir and Devil Creek Reservoir

Daniels Reservoir and Devil Creek Reservoir, both situated in the picturesque landscapes of southeastern Idaho, offer a tandem ice fishing experience that’s truly unparalleled. Daniels Reservoir, with its expansive 600-acre spread, is a haven for various trout species, ensuring a rewarding catch for anglers.

Just a short distance away, Devil Creek Reservoir, though smaller, packs a punch with its own trout-rich waters. What makes these reservoirs unique is the opportunity they present for a diverse fishing adventure within close proximity. Anglers can easily hop between the two, experiencing the distinct charm each reservoir offers.

The surrounding landscapes, characterized by rolling hills and dense woodlands, provide a serene backdrop, amplifying the joy of fishing. For those seeking variety, tranquility, and the thrill of exploring two distinct fishing spots in one trip, the duo of Daniels Reservoir and Devil Creek Reservoir emerges as a top choice in Idaho.

Upper Snake Region

Henrys Lake

Henry’s Lake, cradled in the high mountains near the Montana border, stands as one of Idaho’s crown jewels for ice fishing. Spanning over 6,000 acres, this alpine lake is renowned for its trophy trout, particularly the unique Henry’s Lake cutthroat and hybrid cutbows.

What truly sets Henry’s Lake apart is its high-altitude setting, which not only ensures consistently thick ice but also offers breathtaking panoramic views of snow-capped peaks and dense forests. The lake’s rich aquatic ecosystem, fed by natural springs, guarantees a bountiful catch, making every trip a potential story of triumph.

Its reputation has even drawn anglers from across the nation, all eager to experience the magic of Henry’s Lake. For those seeking an ice fishing adventure that combines the thrill of the catch with the serenity of alpine beauty, Henry’s Lake is an unmatched destination in Idaho.

Mackay Reservoir

Mackay Reservoir, gracefully positioned against the backdrop of Idaho’s Lost River Range, is a magnet for ice fishing enthusiasts. Covering an impressive 1,100 acres, this reservoir is a hotspot for a diverse range of fish, with trout and kokanee salmon being the prime attractions.

The reservoir’s clear waters, rich in nutrients, ensure a thriving aquatic ecosystem, promising a rewarding fishing experience. Its proximity to the historic town of Mackay adds a touch of charm, allowing anglers to combine their fishing adventure with a glimpse into Idaho’s rich heritage. For those looking to merge the excitement of fishing with awe-inspiring natural beauty, Mackay Reservoir stands out as a premier ice fishing destination in Idaho.

Ririe Reservoir

Ririe Reservoir, nestled in the rolling hills of eastern Idaho, is a beacon for those passionate about ice fishing. Spanning over 1,500 acres, this reservoir is teeming with a diverse array of fish, notably the sought-after yellow perch and rainbow trout.

What truly sets Ririe Reservoir apart is its intricate underwater structure, formed by submerged trees and rock formations, creating an ideal habitat for fish and adding an element of challenge and excitement for anglers. The reservoir’s pristine waters, surrounded by a mosaic of farmlands and woodlands, offer a tranquil setting that amplifies the joy of fishing.

Its location, just a short drive from Idaho Falls, ensures easy accessibility while still providing a sense of seclusion. For those seeking a blend of challenge, tranquility, and the promise of a diverse catch, Ririe Reservoir emerges as a distinctive ice fishing spot in Idaho.

Salmon Region

Jimmy Smith Lake

Jimmy Smith Lake, tucked away in the scenic landscapes of East Fork Canyon near the Salmon River, is a hidden treasure for ice fishing enthusiasts. Though more intimate in size, this lake boasts a rich aquatic ecosystem, making it a hotspot for trout aficionados.

What truly distinguishes Jimmy Smith Lake is its pristine alpine setting, offering anglers a serene and untouched environment that’s becoming increasingly rare. The lake’s clear, icy waters, surrounded by dense pine forests and echoing the calls of local wildlife, provide a tranquil and immersive fishing experience. Its seclusion ensures that anglers can enjoy a peaceful day on the ice, often accompanied only by the gentle rustle of trees and the occasional splash of a catch.

For those in search of an authentic, undisturbed ice fishing adventure amidst nature’s splendor, Jimmy Smith Lake is a must-visit destination in Idaho.

Williams Lake

Williams Lake, situated near the town of Salmon in Lemhi County, is an ice fishing paradise that beckons anglers with its pristine beauty and abundant fish population. Spanning a generous area, this alpine lake is renowned for its rainbow and brook trout, offering anglers the thrill of reeling in sizable catches amidst a serene setting.

Its reputation as a prime trout destination has drawn both locals and visitors, all eager to experience the magic of Williams Lake. For those seeking a harmonious blend of nature’s grandeur and the excitement of ice fishing, Williams Lake stands as a premier choice in Idaho.

Stanley Lake

Stanley Lake, cradled in the heart of Idaho’s Sawtooth National Recreation Area, is a dream destination for ice fishing enthusiasts. This glacially-carved lake, set against the majestic backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains, offers more than just breathtaking views; it’s a haven for a variety of fish, including mountain whitefish and brook trout.

What truly makes Stanley Lake unique is its pristine alpine setting, where the crisp mountain air and the stillness of the surroundings amplify the joy of fishing. The lake’s clear, deep waters, enriched by surrounding snowmelt, ensure a thriving aquatic ecosystem, promising anglers both a challenge and a rewarding catch.

Its location, away from urban hustle and bustle, offers a tranquil escape where nature and fishing meld seamlessly. For those looking to combine the serenity of alpine landscapes with the thrill of ice fishing, Stanley Lake is an unmatched gem in Idaho.

In Summary – The Best Ice Fishing In Idaho

As you can see there’s no shortage of terrific places to ice fish in Idaho. The reason why Idaho has the best ice fishing is thanks to it’s diverse landscape and healthy ecosystem which support trophy sized fish of various species.

Our top pick is Lake Cascade in Cascade Idaho for it’s trophy sized fish and town amenities, making it the perfect spot for beginners and experts alike.

What Month Is Best For Ice Fishing?

In general February and March are the best months for ice fishing in Idaho.

author bio august wheeler

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