Steamboat Pond among waters set for events during Free Fishing Day
Idaho anglers on Saturday can fish without a license.
The state’s Free Fishing Day comes every year on the second Saturday of June, when all anglers — residents and nonresidents — can throw a line into Idaho waters without purchasing a fishing license.
In many places in the Panhandle, novice anglers will have a chance to talk with Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers and volunteers to learn about fish found in the state, and where and how to catch them.
“It’s a great day to learn,” said Roger Phillips of Fish and Game. “(Department) personnel and volunteers set up several free events at local fishing waters to help first-timers discover the joys of fishing.”
Loaner rods and reels are available at some locations (see below) from Fish and Game, or anyone with their own equipment you are encouraged to bring it.
Although anglers can fish without a license, all other fishing rules and regulations including creel limits, opening dates and tackle restrictions remain in effect, Phillips said.
Events planned Saturday throughout the Panhandle include:
7 a.m.-11 a.m.:
Ponderosa Springs Golf Course
Priest Lake area: Priest Lake Golf Course, Co-sponsors Priest Lake Golf Course, Priest Lake Sportsman’s Assoc., the Kalispel Tribe, and Priest Lake Employees Assoc.
• Bonners Ferry: Snow Creek Pond, co-sponsored with Bonner’s Ferry Lions Club
• Enaville: Steamboat Pond
• Mullan: Lucky Friday Pond
• Post Falls: Post Falls Park Pond
• Rathdrum: Rathdrum City Park, co-sponsor Rathdrum Parks and Recreation
• Sandpoint: Round Lake State Park
Rainbow trout are being stocked in each of the locations.
By RALPH BARTHOLDT
Early Wednesday an osprey clucked from a cottonwood and the tree’s fluffy seeds drifted over Steamboat Pond like goose down.
There was little traffic on the Coeur d’Alene River Road, and the pond’s parking lot near the 11-mile marker of the forest highway that follows the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River upstream from Enaville was empty.
Larry Koscich was the first one to park.
The semi-retired construction worker from Kellogg had heard about Steamboat for a long time, but thought, maybe it was an alpine lake and he didn’t know how to find it.
As an avid mountain biker, riding his bicycle on a hiking trail to a fishing hole seemed like a good idea.
“I don’t know why I like riding my bike into gnarly places, but it gives me satisfaction,” he said.
The only thing: Steamboat Pond, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game family fishing water, is so close to the forest highway you can sing along with the radios of the cars that go by.
Besides Koscich’s silver economy model, there were few cars on the road and when he pulled his gear from the passenger seat and walked the path to one of the casting bays on the 3-acre pond, he explained why he had come back.
“Yesterday I couldn’t catch anything,” Koscich said.
When he was told where to find the pond, he drove out with some bobbers and worms but didn’t get a bite.
He tried lures too.
“Nothing,” he said. “I just thought, there aren’t any fish in here.”
Someone told Koscich, who likes to smoke the steelhead and salmon he catches each year — that the state fisheries department had stocked trout in the pond — so he kept fishing and switched his presentation.
“I had to do some experimenting,” he said. “I just kept trying.”
He took the bobber off his line, and snapped on an Eagle Claw snelled hook — they come in packs of six from the store — letting the rig sink to the bottom and immediately got a take.
From there on, he couldn’t keep the put-and-take rainbows off his line.
He returned Wednesday morning for more action.
“I just thought I’d get six and then I’ll fire up the smoker,” he said.
Within an hour, he hooked six fish, lost two and inadvertently returned one to the pond before it was attached to the stringer. The limit at Steamboat is six keepers, and everything Koscich hauled in was over 12 inches long.
Which means he’ll probably return tomorrow, or find another spot, maybe one he can access with his mountain bike, to catch more keepers for his smoker.