September marks the changing of seasons and the beginning of fall. School is back in session, hunting season is upon us and cooling water temperatures can mean increased angling success for those who put in the time. Over the past months, two more walleye were turned in that contained $1000 reward tags; maybe you’re next!
Catch rates for walleye in Lake Pend Oreille have been high over the past two months, and walleye are beginning to move into fall location patterns.
Fall fishing for walleye on the lake can be challenging due to water levels beginning to drop from full summer pool where they have been held since the start of June. The drop in water level will begin to affect many launches by early to mid-October, but conditions are still great to get out and fish!
The most current location information for acoustic tagged walleye can be seen in the map below (or accessible from this link). The map shows walleye locations from Aug. 8 to 24.
The most noticeable change in walleye locations is the number of fish in the Clark Fork River has once again increased as it did last month. Some of these fish are following kokanee upriver as they return to the Cabinet Gorge Fish Hatchery. The greatest concentrations of acoustic tagged walleye in the Clark Fork are in some of the deep holes and runs adjacent to the log boom at the mouth of Lightning Creek and in the hole just above the River Road and railroad bridges south of the town of Clark Fork. These areas are most easily accessed by either the Driftyard or Johnson Creek boat launches.
There are also additional walleye spread throughout the upper portion of the Clark Fork all the way up to the Cabinet Gorge Dam. The upper portion of the river can be accessed from the Avista Boat Launch along Highway 200. A jet boat is still recommended when fishing the upper portion of the Clark Fork River as flow below Cabinet Gorge Dam can fluctuate rapidly in a matter of minutes, which can create navigational hazards.
The number of walleye in Oden Bay and off of Fisherman’s Island has increased over the past month to match some of the highest numbers of the year. A high percentage of these walleye have occupied these areas along the north shoreline periodically throughout the summer. As the shallows begin to cool down, walleye will often be active in shallow water on rock bars in low light conditions. Look for rocky structure adjacent to deep or weedy daytime cover where fish can easily move up to feed at night.
Some walleye continue to frequent popular locations near the Highway 95 long bridge and the railroad bridge area near Sandpoint. Fishing these areas can be most productive during low light times at dusk and dawn and also makes it easier to fish before boat traffic starts to increase throughout the day.
Walleye distribution in downriver locations of the Pend Oreille River has also changed since earlier this summer. Locations near Thama and Riley Creek are still picking up acoustic tagged walleye, and some fish have now moved farther down the river in the vicinity of Priest River.
The number of walleye returned in the Angler Incentive Program from the Pend Oreille River has also remained consistently high this summer and catch rates are higher than many other regions of the lake.
Don’t forget about lake trout
Lake trout fishing around Lake Pend Oreille can be at its best in September. Fish are fully in pre-spawn feeding mode and are aggressive as they try to pack on extra weight before they spawn later next month.
Acoustic tagged lake trout are still widely distributed throughout the lake wherever depths are greater than 80 feet. The main concentrations of fish are at Whiskey Rock, the Windy Point area along the Monarchs, the steep break off the mouth of the Clark Fork Delta and off the Grouse Point to Talache shoreline.
The thermocline in the lake is currently set up around 50-60 feet, and lake trout can be found suspended below schools of kokanee or at the bottom in 80-150 feet along drop offs of the locations mentioned above. As fall progresses, more fish will concentrate in spawning locations off Evans Landing, Windy Point and near the Cement Plant at the south end of the lake.
Biologists track acoustic-tagged walleye and lake trout to learn more about walleye movements and to help anglers effectively target these fish and participate in the Lake Pend Oreille angler incentive program.
To learn more about walleye and lake trout rewards and try your hand at becoming a big winner, check out the Lake Pend Oreille angler incentive program on the Idaho Fish and Game website.
If you’re interested in learning more about walleye fishing in Lake Pend Oreille, the angler incentive program and general information about walleye in the lake, Fish and Game has plenty of resources to help.
- Check out our “Lake Pend Oreille fisheries” webpage and watch the 2022 State of the Lake virtual meeting to learn more about the world-class fisheries in Lake Pend Oreille.
- You can also visit the Idaho Fishing Planner to get information about diverse fishing opportunities throughout the state.