Fishing in Idaho


If there is one thing that Idaho is well-known for, it’s for outdoor sports. Not just any sport in particular, though, almost all of them can be done here. With its many lakes, mountains, rivers, and streams, Idaho is the perfect place for just about anything. Many of the more popular things to do here are boating, hunting, camping, and skiing. But, as popular as these all are, one of the most commonly practiced outdoor sports in all of Idaho is fishing. Idaho has thousands of great places to cast a line, some in and around the city, some more remote, so no matter what part of the state you are in, you will be able to find yourself a nice spot to spend a relaxing morning or afternoon.

Fishing, though common in Idaho, is not without regulations. When you want to fish in Idaho you need to be sure to have a license first. These licenses are issued by the Department of Fish and Game and cost different depending on whether you are an adult (17 years old and up) or a child (14 years old to 17 years old) and on the length of time you want the license to be for. Currently, you can buy either a one-year or a three-year license. If you are 17 years old or more you will pay $25.75 for a one-year license; for a three year one, however, you will pay $73.25. If you are between the ages of 14 and 17 a one-year license will cost $13.75 and a three-year license will cost $37.75.

Once you have bought your license, you will need to familiarize yourself with the rules, regulations and laws of Idaho fishing which can be found at the Department of Fish and Game as well.

Idaho is full of great places for fishing, but if you don’t know where you can go, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more popular fishing hot spots. The list is separated into three sections, namely day trips, overnight trips to the east, and overnight trips to the north. If the fishing site is less than three hours from Boise, it is considered a day trip. Anything over three hours away is considered an overnight trip.

Day Trips:

Flat National Wildlife Refuge at Lake Lowell

Only an hour drive from Boise (on the far side of Nampa) is the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. It is a fantastic day trip for those who live in or around the Treasure Valley. It is a beautiful oasis amongst the otherwise desert-like Snake River Plain and harbors dozens of species and varieties of animals and vegetation making it great for any kind of outdoor aficionado.

Unfortunately, there are no campgrounds around the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, however, there are several dozen hotels in Nampa that would keep you near the lake. That is if you did want to make it into an overnight trip.

The Payette and Cascade Lakes

Two other popular fishing destinations include Lake Cascade in Cascade Idaho and the Payette Lake in McCall. Located only about two hours from Boise, both lakes get a fair amount of traffic every year. Not to mention their all year round fishing opportunities make them hard to beat. In both Cascade and McCall there are dozens of restaurants, hotels, and even a movie theater on Main Street in McCall; meaning these two lakes are finding themselves high on the list of most adored places to fish. There are also hundreds of campgrounds and resorts in the surrounding area, so, if you want to spend the night, you can with ease.

Sun Valley

No matter what kind of outdoor activity you are venturing out to do, Sun Valley will have something for you. Thanks to its beautiful scenery, great things to do, and ever growing resorts, Sun Valley has gathered a following of faithful patrons that come back year after year. Though it is usually thought of as a place to go skiing or snowboarding, fishing is among the great things you can do there.

If you want to make an overnight trip out of your time in Sun Valley, there are dozens of campgrounds and hotels in the area. But, if you just want to fish and come home, it is only 2 ½ hours or so from Boise.

Overnight Trips to the North:

Coeur d’Alene Lake

7 hours north of the Treasure Valley is a heavenly place to spend a night or two: Coeur d’Alene Lake. Its combination of pristine water and gorgeous scenery make it one of the most popular places in Idaho for a relaxing weekend—for both Idahoans and visitors. The lake is a fisher’s dream; loaded with Chinook Salmon, Bass, and other assorted species, it’s hard to get bored on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Even though the Lake is beautiful and a constant draw for visitors, the City of Coeur d’Alene also has a large amount of things to do if you need a break from the water. The City of Coeur d’Alene has many places to enjoy a great bite to eat, shop, and sightsee. Around Coeur d’Alene are hundreds of great outdoor hotspots as well, other than fishing spots.

Priest Lake

Though it is probably the farthest fishing spot on this list, Priest Lake is also a fantastically tranquil destination as well. This great fishing paradise is located nine hours away from the Treasure Valley and only fifteen miles from Canada. Usually, travelers can see a large variety of animals like Grizzly bears, Moose and more. Not to mention, the lake is full of Trout and Mackinaw.

There are several resorts near Priest Lake, as well as a few campgrounds visitors can enjoy. There are also many scenic routes to take, adding to the picturesque experience. Overnight Trips to the West:

Salmon Idaho

If you enjoy being as alone as possible, then Salmon Idaho will be a great fit for you. Located 5 – 6 hours northeast of the Treasure Valley, visitors to Salmon Idaho will find themselves alone very quickly. With fishing opportunities all along the Salmon River and the tributaries that feed into, there are plenty of places to cast your line.

If you want to stay near the river there are plenty of campgrounds available. However, if you want to stay in a hotel, there are a couple in the City of Salmon to choose from.

Henry’s Lake

The serene waters of Henry’s Lake are located only a few miles east of West Yellowstone. Its surrounding alpine beauty and pristine, glassy surface make Henry’s Lake a very beautiful place to enjoy a day or two fishing. To get to Henry’s Lake it is only a 5-hour drive from the Treasure Valley which can comfortably be done in less than a day.

At Henry’s Lake, there are over 80 serviced campgrounds along with 2 cabins, along with 3 ADA sites and one ADA cabin. There are also flushing toilets, showers, fish cleaning stations, and RV dumping stations available for visitors.

Living in Idaho is great for fishers of all types. Whether you like summer fishing, ice fishing, or anything in between. Even if you like to fish closer to home, or make a weekend trip out of it, you can do it with ease when you live here in Idaho.

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