The Return of Kokanee Fishing on Lake Pend Oreille

It's time to fish for kokanee again on Lake Pend Oreille. The last time I fished for kokanee here was with my Dad, when it was a booming sport in the 1960s. I remember threading maggots on a small jighead and fishing for (and catching) kokanee with hand lines from the Sandpoint City dock.  It was a sad day when the fishery was closed in the 1970's, but now they’re back!

Kokanee, a “relative” of the ocean-going Sockeye Salmon, provided both a popular sport fishery and commercial fishery through the 1960s.  In the 1970s things changed when kokanee number crashed and kokanee harvest was eventually prohibited in Lake Pend Oreille. 

Now, the kokanee are back in Lake Pend Oreille.  Two years ago Fish and Game opened the lake for the daily harvest of 6 kokanee.  Last winter, large numbers of spawning kokanee were noted in tributary streams to Pend Oreille and in shore-spawning areas.  Recent sampling with nets showed kokanee numbers in the lake are similar to what we observed in the 1960’s.  Don’t be surprised to see bag limits on kokanee increased again in the near future. – Dave from Boise