I'll plan on heading your way this summer I've. I'm making a fishing trip to the state just east of us and a side trip to Ione sounds like a good plan.
Crappie fish frys got me thru college when I was a poor college student, crappie fishing got me in trouble with my Profs! A few friends an I would "treat" severe spring fever with a skipped class, marabou crappie jigs, and a sharp Rapala fillet knife. We went a little too far our junior year and a "donation" of boneless fillets helped soothe ruffled feathers!
Give some thought to tying up some bead head flies on Mustad Aberdeen 32756 jig hooks or the Gamugatsu equivalent. These are essentially just a fly rod weight crappie jig that can be cast readily and produces well. The color choices are endless but the one combination I have been most successful with over the years is black and chartreuse. Crappie have large mouths so don't use tiny hooks.
To answer the question about cutthroat, yes, it was a great cutthroat lake about 10 years ago. At the time it also had some brook trout in it that were 2-3#. Then the panfish came and the food for the cutties was just overwhelmed. I never bother to fish for trout there anymore as there are so many good trout lakes nearby. At some point I would think they would kill off all the spiny rays and start over with trout. Until that happens I will make the best of the situation by providing my family with a ready source of free protein.
TB, those fish don't seem to be on the clock. I have caught them in all parts of the lake from the shallows to the deepest part and at all times of the day. The schools do move around and once you find them fishing is very fast indeed. But since I try to only take 20 at a time (that's all I want to fillet at once) it seldom takes much longer than an hour to get my quota and then head for another lake.
I hope I am not oversimplifying this too much. After all, I caught my first crappie in 1946 so I have over 50 years experience and maybe a 6th sense about where they are going to be and what they will take. I was on the lake with 2 old timers last fall and they never caught a single crappie. They were fishing with worms and catching perch but the crappie weren't having any of it. They were taking jigs or flies that resembled minnows.
For those of you that are new to catching crappie let me point out a couple of things. First of all, use very light line, nothing heavier than about 4# test. When I use ultra light spinning gear I like to use Stren Hi Vis Yellow in 4# test with a short section of 6X flouro to the jig. With a fly rod I use a 2wt or 4wt with a full sink or sink tip followed by a short leader and 5X-6X tippet. I have fished near guys that were using 12-15# test line on a crude spinning outfit and out caught them at a nearly 10:1 margin. The presentation has to be natural and with heavy line it isn't.
Crappie take very softly and often slowly, you want to keep the fly or jig moving towards you very slowly so you can detect the slightest pull or resistance to your retrieve. I have watched them feed many times and they just seem to glide up behind the bait, flare their gills and suck the bait in. Unlike bluegills which attack aggressively it is easy to miss a crappie take if you are not paying attention.
Here's a tip for you guys that travel in the Gorge. Stop at Crow Butte State Park in the spring and go down and fish off the docks at the boat launch. I have caught monster crappies there up to 18". Also try Central Ferry for big fish, I've caught some to 16'' there. Nowadays I am about 2 miles away from the Pend Oreille River and I am just starting to learn my way around the crappies in there. Some to 16'' already so it appears promising.
How's the other lakes up there on 20 rate, like starvation, white mud, coffin, and them by Leo. I'm thinking this spring I want to take the kid/s up there and try the area lakes good. My goal is to find good fishing, with no jet skies and the baser element that accompanies them---if possible anymore...
---dreamin of fishin, while watchin the snow fallin outside---
Starvation is a put-n-take free for all from the opener until June 1 when it becomes catch-and-release until the end of the season. No internal combustion motors are allowed so it is usually pretty quiet there. It is not a lake that I frequent as I try to avoid lakes with houses around them. But like all lakes in the area sometimes it is very good and other times just average. There is a campground there so it wouldn't hurt to check it out after June 1. The other lakes in the area are so close that you could camp there and drive to Leo, Frater, Nile and Coffin. Coffin is an interesting lake that often fishes very well. Chances are that you will have it to yourself. The main Little Pend Oreille lakes I have never fished but have heard rumors that there are good crappie numbers in Sherry. All of those lakes are contaminated with panfish except Frater which was rehabbed two years ago and promptly fished out last year. There are still a handful of decent fish in there but you have to work for them.
Nile is an enigma but it does have fish and some nice ones at that. It doesn't give up it's treasures readily but if you break the code it can be productive. It is less than 15 minutes from the house so I try hard to succeed there but am often thwarted. I'll keep trying now that I've learned that the fish gorge themselves on tiny red bloodworms.
Black Lake is also nearby and if you camp at Starvation it is a short run up there. I went up last year hoping that the tiger trout would be available but was there on a Sunday with lots of other fishermen and almost no fish for anyone. Strange. We had a day there a few years back when 2 of us caught almost 90 rainbows in 3 hours. Planting the tigers seems to have really changed the landscape there.
When you get to the area give me a heads up and maybe I can fill you in on the current hot spots.
Sure, let me know when you are in the area. Since I fish alone about 90% of the time it would make my day to fish with some other members of WFF. I'll be happy to share whatever local knowledge I can and perhaps save someone wasting time on an unproductive lake.
See you in the summer.
By the way, if you left tomorrow you would arrive in a snowstorm with almost 3' of snow on the ground here. Careful what you wish for!