Priest Lake ID Help


Active Member
I want to go to Priest Lake ID area to either fish the lake or river whichever is better. If anyone can give me any advice about the area it would be great. I have never been there, and I have an opportunity to go in July. Need to also find lodging if anyone can recommend that as well.

Brian White

Recovering Bugmeister
Skip the river - it is heavily impacted by a topwater dam. The lake is big big water so you might need to sign on with a guide to fish it....

Priest Lake itself does hold decent population of large rainbows and some big lake trout. I don't know many/any folks who target lake trout on the fly.....

There is some decent fishing for bass and some other species on Pend Oreille River (Priest River empties into it)
Ive spent some time fishing the smaller streams around the lake... try to camp at the Lion Head unit and explore that area. Not saying youll catch anything massive but the scenery is next to none and there are some pretty sweet natural waterslides you gotta check out!
Sweet Lou Priest Lake is big and generally not thought of a a fly fishing lake. But there is a good opportunity to catch lots of cutthroat that most people don't target. The cutts are at the upper end of the lake just before you enter the thoroughfare, and in the upper lake. You can not fish in the thoroughfare itself. I guy I know has a cabin on the lake near the TF and just goes out on his dock in the evening and will catch lots of fish on dries. These are not big fish but it is always a blast to take cutts on dries.
It used to have a fabulous Cutthroat fishery 30 years ago but the Lake Trout have cannibalized the cutts, but it appears that they are making a comeback. IDFG is trying to decide how to deal with the Lake Trout but it is not an easy fix.
Good Luck it is a gorgeous area.


Active Member
The Upper Priest River is a good fishery and has a nice trail along side of it. Access is from the West side of the lake. Park where the road crosses the river and hike upstream or down.


New Member
I haven't had the best luck fly fishing Priest Lake, but I haven't spent the time really going after it either. The cutts seem to show up in the evening and sometimes in the early mornings on the lower lake, but the window is small and they seem to be pretty finicky, but most of that has been off the end of my dock. Upper lake is much better, and catch-and-release only. I can echo the above comments though, you are travelling to one jewel of an area. Getting up early to fish is worth it just to see the sunrise over the Selkirks. I'd like to figure out how the get one of the kokanee on a fly as well...


Active Member
Used to canoe in and camp on the upper lake...the thoroughfare is beautiful..often saw moose, eagles, osprey, river otters, and all sorts of other wildlife. The upper lake doesn't have a cabin on it...very natural and roads...just foot trails for access. The much larger lower lake is beautiful too...but lots of cabins, powerboats, and that sort of associated activity.

I wish the lake trout were was once, as previously mentioned, a superb cutthroat fishery.

There was, back in the 1920's, a silent movie picture studio (Lion Head Lodge) on the east side of the upper lake where the thoroughfare can find remnants of the old foundations in the woods. They kept a managerie of bears, deer, etc....Nell Shipman was the actress. You can read a bit about her here..

This is the unusual (and welcome) case where an area slated for development slipped back into near wildnerness.