Easily accessible, this fishery is open year-round for naturally reproducing rainbow trout. The kokanee season is open from January 1 to August 7 with a limit of 15.
This is one of a few lakes in the Stanley Basin where sockeye salmon return to spawn. None of Idaho's famous redfish, or sockeye salmon, returned to Redfish Lake in 1997, and only one sockeye, Lonesome Larry, returned in 1998. Only 342 sockeye have returned since 1995. Sockeye used to spawn here by the thousands, giving the lake its name.
In 1991, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game began a program to preserve the existing population and prevent their extinction. The fish are unique because they are the only population of sockeye salmon in the Snake River drainage. They are distinguished by their toughness as well: They travel farther than any other North American sockeye population-more than 900 miles-to reach the ocean; they travel to the highest elevation of 6,545 feet; and they are the most southerly population of sockeye in North America.
In 2000, the program experienced its first significant return of hatchery-produced adults. Two hundred fifty-seven sockeye salmon returned to collection facilities on Redfish Lake Creek and the upper Salmon River at the IDF&G Sawtooth Fish Hatchery, and the majority of those adult returns were released into the system for natural spawning. In 2001, 26 hatchery-produced adults returned to collection facilities in Idaho, in 2002, 21 hatchery-produced adults returned to the Stanley Basin, in 2003, three returned and 27 returned in 2004.
The lake holds bull trout and kokanee. Bull trout are protected. The lake's campgrounds are the Hilton of the camping world with hot showers for a fee, gas, laundromat and pay phones available.
Joe Evancho is the author of Fishing Idaho, An Angler's Guide published by Cutthroat Press in 2004 (www.cutthroatpress.com).