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Chinook Salmon

Coeur d’Alene Lake is one of the few places in the nation that has land locked Chinook Salmon. The original plant was in 1982 and the fishery has grown to be one of the most popular in the Northwest. Another unique aspect to the fishery is that they also reproduce naturally right in Coeur d’Alene Lake. The natural spawners combined with the supplemental plant annually stock the lake with about 70,000 fish.


The Coeur d’Alene Salmon Cycle

This year round fishery is has alot to offer the potential angler.The Spring (March thru May) finds these fish at or near the surface. We troll herring in a helmet, a flutter spoon, or a Rapala. Catch rates are generally very good with the average fish running from 3 to 8 pounds. Trolling speeds are between 1.8 and 2.2 knots.

The Summer time (June thru Mid-August) fish will drop to the 40 to 60 foot range. These suspended fish will chase a Dodger/Fly or Flasher/Squid combo. Another successful setup is a Herring behind a Dodger. Trolling speed is 1.2 knots for the Dodger and 1.6 for the Flasher.

The Fall fishery (Mid-August thru September) is when the largest fish of the season are caught. The mature chinook make their way to mouths of the Coeur d’Alene River and Wolf Lodge Creek. Flasher/Squid and Dodger/Fly combo’s are the way to fool these big fish. Trolling speed is 1.2 knots for the Dodger and 1.6 for the Flasher.

The Winter (October thru February) pattern is for the fish to slowly drop down to the bottom. When they reach 75 feet and deeper, the catch rates are some of the best of the year. Fish are generally 3 to 6 pounds and the common method for catching them is to troll a Flaher and a small squid. Trolling speed is from 1.4 to 1.6 knots.

These are the general patterns that the fish follow, but they often surprise us. If you would like some up to the minute fishing information, check out the Fins Fishing Report.

Jordan Smith & Matt Palmer of Fins & Feathers Guide Service caught this 24lb Salmon on the first day of the Big One Chinook Derby. The 24lber held on to win 1st place of the derby.
Photo By Matt Palmer

Mike Cordon with a pair of very nice Spring fish. The fish were caught on Herring and a Helmet about 10′ down.
Photo By Jordan Smith

Tim Qualls with a couple nice late spring salmon weighing in at 8lb and 9lb. Caught on the north end of the lake using a flasher and hoochie.
Photo By Jeff Smith

Quick Facts on Chinook Salmon

Average catch = 2-5 fish
Common Lures = Herring in a helmet,
Spoons, Flasher/Squid, Dodger/Fly
Lake Record= 42lbs 0oz
Average size = 3-7 lbs