At least four species of Catfish roam throughout Idaho・s lower elevation rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Some Flathead・s and blue's have recently been caught in the twenty five pound range. Channels, and bullheads are favorites among the worm dunking crowd. One of Idaho・s best kept secrets is the great white sturgeon. These prehistoric monsters of the deep have been landlocked for decades by dams used for hydropower, irrigation, and flood control. As an anadromous species, sturgeon are not actually warmwater fish but will be classified with this group because of fishing methods and locations. They have adapted well to captivity and grow to huge sizes in the Snake River drainage. Catch and release is the only method by which you can experience these ominous creatures but the memories of hooking and landing one will last a life time. Other warmwater species include; Walleye, Northern Pike, and an exotic species, Tiger Muskie.
The Largemouth Bass, bucketmouth, hawg, bigmouth and black bass to name a few, was introduced to Idaho in the late 1800・s. These predominately lake and pond dwelling fish are located throughout Idaho and prefer warmer waters with extensive weed beds, tules, Lilly pads and other types of cover. They can be found in every region of Idaho but are primarily located in the Northern and South Western regions in major reservoirs and lower elevation lakes and ponds. Of the warmwater game fish the Largemouth bass is certainly the most highly sought after by anglers throughout the United States. The Idaho state record is 10 pounds 15 ounces, caught in Anderson Lake, a chain of lakes on the Coeur d・ Alene River. Largemouth bass can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.
The Smallmouth bass, or bronzeback, is acclaimed by many sporstmen as America・s fightingest game fish. They were introduced to Idaho in the late 1800・s as part of the West・s new vision of a cornucopia. These fierce fighters are located in many of the major river systems in Idaho and prefer the cooler running water of streams and rivers. However, they have been successful at dominating many of Southwestern Idaho・s reservoirs and rivers. They are the most popular warmwater game fish in Idaho mostly because of their wide distribution and angling excitement. The state record was broken in 1995 on Dworshak Reservoir with a 8 pound, one-half ounce, bronzeback landed by a local angler. Smallmouth bass can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.
Crappie are possibly the most popular table fish caught in Idaho today. These little filets of delicacy are found through out Idaho and are primarily located in smaller impoundment・s such as farm and livestock ponds. However, many of the major reservoirs in both Southwestern, Central and Northern Idaho boast large populations of both Black and White Crappie. For years, the number one fishing hole in Idaho, Brownlee Reservoir, has been a popular spot for Crappie fishing. The current state record for White Crappie is 3 pounds 8.8 ounces caught by Cliff Watts of Weiser, Idaho, at Crane Creek Reservoir on 7/9/07. The state record Black Crappie of 3 pounds 8.96 ounces was caught on Brownlee 6/08/03 by Jason Monson. Crappie can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.
Perch are both touted as Idaho・s number one ice-fishing re-treat and fishing nemesis. These prolific sunfish are popular by winter-time anglers who cherish thier white-flakey meat. Their ability to over-populate other popular fishing haunts has made them the target of controversy. They were introduced to Idaho about the same time as other warmwater species but have remained somewhat isolated in their dispersal. Only a few major lakes in Southwestern Idaho, and South-central Idaho have any strong holds of Perch populations. The state record Perch was caught on Wilson Lake in 1976 ansd weighed 2 pounds and 9.6 ounces. Perch can be found in North, Southwest and Eastern Idaho.
Bluegill have found their way to many of Idaho・s small impoundment・s and ponds. They thrive on shallow, isolated weed beds or tules, and are great fun for light tackle and teaching kids the enjoyment of fishing. These little spiny-rays are good to eat, fun to catch and offer hours of enjoyable diversion for the family. The state record Bluegill weighed 3 pounds and 8 ounces and was caught in 1966 on C.J. Strike Reservior. Bluegill can be found in North, Northcentral, Southwest, Southcentral, Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Idaho.
Walleye are one of America・s most popular warmwater species, however because of their limited range in Idaho・s river and lakes, they are only sought out by a few anglers each year. They are located in only three known impoundment・s, Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, Goose Creek Resevoir, and Onida Reservoir. The state record Walleye is 17 pounds and 6 ounces and was caught in October of 2006 by Mark Abel, Idaho. Walleye can be found in Southwest and Eastern Idaho.
Channel Catfish were introduced to Idaho in the late 1800・s, and have found their way into most of the states major river and lake systems. Thriving on a mirad of carnage and bottom debris the catfish quickly adapted to most any body of water in Idaho. Lakes, ponds, streams and rivers in the lower elevations all have one form of catfish or another. The average Channel Catfish is about 2-4 pounds and can get as big as 20 to 30 pounds in the larger river and lake systems. The state record Channel Catfish weighed 31 lbs. .05 ounces and was caught in Mann Lake on 8/25/01. Channel catfish can be found in North, Southwest and Eastern Idaho.
Flathead Catfish, unlike their cousins the Channel Catfish, were not introduced to the West until much later (1950・s and 60・s) and were only introduced to a few major river systems and impoundment・s. There they have remained, with only marginal expansion. Specimens of over one hundred pounds have been recorded, but the largest Flathead Catfish in Idaho was caught at the head waters of Brownlee Reservoir in 1994 and weighed 58 pounds 8 ounces. Flathead catfish can be found in Southwest and Eastern Idaho.
Blue Catfish are the largest members of the catfish family and can be found in only a few rivers and lakes in Idaho. Their large size and sparse populations make them a rare catch but often bagged in the headwaters of Brownlee Reservoir. Blue catfish can be found in Southwest Idaho.
Bullhead or mud catfish are found in many of Idaho・s low-land ponds and small lakes. They are highly adaptive to poor water conditions and live in areas with low oxygen and high water turbidity. The state record was caught in Brownlee Reservoir in 1986 and weighed 3 lbs. 14 oz. Bullhead catfish can be found in North and Eastern Idaho.
Sturgeon are the largest fresh-water fish in North America and can be found in three of Idaho・s major river systems. The Snake River, the Kootenai and the Salmon River all have White Sturgeon. This prehistoric monster of the deep is fast becoming one of Idaho・s most popular game fish. Its enormous size and fighting strength has captured the hearts of anglers from around the world. Records from the past have estimated fish over a thousand pounds and twenty feet in length. The state record White Sturgeon (by rod and reel) weighed 394 pounds and was caught on the Snake River. Since records can not be recorded due to immediate catch and release of Sturgeon, no records have been kept for many years. The famed Hells Canyon Recreation Area is one of the primary spots to land a fish of a lifetime. Enforced catch and release ethics for this once anadromous fish will hopefully ensure many hours of angling adventure for hearty fisherpersons from around the globe for decades to come. White sturgeon can be found in Northcentral, Southwest and Southeastern Idaho.
Northern Pike are located only in Northern Idaho and have a large following of avid anglers who seek out these denizens of the weed beds. The Northern Pike is probably the most voracious of all fresh-water game fish and their aggressive attacks on baits have left many a tall-tale. The old state record Northern Pike was tied in 2002! The fish weighed 38 pounds and 9 ounces, and was caught in Hayden Lake, the 1992 record for the same weight was caught in Coeur d・ Alene Lake in 1992. Northern pike can be found in North Idaho.
Tiger muskie were only recently introduced to Idaho as an experiment to help control other species through predation. These smaller but voracious fighters are hybrid and cannot reproduce. This keeps their population under control while helping to rid some waters of roughage fish such as carp and suckers from either prime warm-water or trout fisheries. The state record Tiger Muskie weighed 38 pounds and 7 ounces and was caught in 2001 on Hauser Lake in North Idaho. Tiger muskie can be found in North and Eastern Idaho.
Fish images provided by
Windsor Nature Discovery