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Fishing Payette Lake

AKA: Payette Reservoir

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By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Payette Lake, ID

Popular Fish Species Payette Lake, ID

Payette Lake Popular Fish - Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee Salmon Fishing

Sockeye salmon which remain landlocked, never migrating to the ocean, are called kokanee salmon. On-going stocking of kokanee salmon by the Idaho Fish and Game helps to maintain a nice population for the fishery. Typically kokanee average one to two pounds. As one of the smaller kokanee fishing lakes in Idaho, Payette Lake still delivers plenty of fish above normal averages. These tasty fish school in lakes at depths which remain at ideal temperatures of between 48 and 58 degrees. Once this depth is identified, use a fish finder to locate schools. Use small lures trolled at the appropriate depth. The can also be caught using corn, but the main way they are caught is using flashy lures which they attack when the lure intrudes their space. In winter, once the ice is safe, try ice fishing for kokanee.

Payette Lake Popular Fish - Lake Torut

Lake Trout Fishing

Year round, fishing for lake trout in Payette Lake is often quite good and these big fish are plentiful. These large trout can be caught from as shallow as 15 to 30 feet in Spring and Fall, to as deep as 150 feet or more during Summer and Winter. It is a monumental help to use fish finders, or other electronics to help in locating these roaming schools of lake trout. They feed on baitfish, so jigs rigged to imitate their prey often work well straight down under the boat. Trolling with numerous set-ups can also produce good catches. When the lake freezes over, ice fishing for big lake trout with spoons can deliver some great catches.

Payette Lake Popular Fish - Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout Fishing

This year, fishing for rainbow trout in Payette Lake is on the rise. Fish for rainbow trout here with worms, salmon eggs, prepared baits, small spinners, spoons, jerkbaits and small crankbaits in vibrant colors to mimic their preferred prey. Additionally, floating or sinking flies, such as nymphs, streamers, or dry flies, are popular choices for fly anglers targeting rainbow trout. Trolling with lures or flies behind a boat, casting near shoreline structures, or still fishing with bait can all yield success. Adjusting lure size, color, and retrieve speed can enhance chances of enticing these colorful and spirited fish. When the lake freezes over, try your luck at ice fishing.

Fish species to fish for...

Guide to fishing for smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, lake trout, yellow perch and kokanee salmon at Payette Lake in Idaho.

Stunning, natural beauty surrounds Payette Lake, a 5,000-acre lake in the west-central part of the state, at McCall, ID. This fertile fishery has over 20 miles of shoreline, some of which is accessible for fishing from the bank.

Payette Lake Fishing Video

Payette Lake, nestled in the heart of the Payette National Forest in central Idaho, is a beloved destination for fishing enthusiasts. This pristine mountain lake offers a tranquil setting and excellent angling opportunities. Anglers are drawn to Payette Lake for its diverse fish populations and the chance to catch some of Idaho's popular fish species.

One of the prized catches in Payette Lake is the lake trout, also known as mackinaw trout. These large and elusive fish provide an exciting challenge for anglers, with their powerful runs and deep dives. Payette Lake is also home to other popular species such as rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass. Anglers can employ various techniques such as trolling, fly fishing, or bait fishing to target these sought-after species.

Payette Lake is a true gem in Idaho, captivating anglers and nature lovers with its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Whether you're casting a line for lake trout, cruising the lake's pristine waters, or spending nights camping under the starry sky, Payette Lake promises an unforgettable experience. Its diverse fish populations, boating amenities, and picturesque camping areas make it a must-visit destination for those seeking outdoor adventures in central Idaho.

Anglers mainly target rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, lake trout and kokanee salmon, often hooking trophy-size fish. Bass enthusiasts are happy to enjoy the quality smallmouth fishing. Ponderosa State Park, plus the north and east portions of the lake afford the best opportunities for bank fishing. Boat are ramps are open for boats, with no limit on horsepower. Canoes, kayaks and row boats can be portaged from the park as well as several areas around the lake. Mile High Marina serves the boating public with docks, a store, gas, boat rentals, hot food, fishing gear and supplies for camping, boating and fishing.

Fishing Boats For Rent In Idaho

Primary fish species residing in Payette Lake

Click images for fishing tips and details about each species.

Largemouth bass Rainbow Trout Cutthroat Trout Lake trout Yellow Perch Kokanee Salmon

Payette Lake Amenities

Marina: YES
Boat Rental: YES
Boat Launch Ramp: YES
Campgrounds: YES
RV Hookups: YES
Lodging: YES
Convenience Store: YES
Bait & Tackle: YES
Restaurant: YES

Today's Weather & Forecast

Beyond fishing, Payette Lake offers ample opportunities for boating enthusiasts. With its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking mountain vistas, boaters can enjoy leisurely cruises, engage in water sports, or explore the lake's secluded coves and bays. Whether you prefer sailing, powerboating, or kayaking, Payette Lake provides a serene and picturesque environment to enjoy a day on the water.

Fishing Boat Rentals

Mile High Marina
Rentals: Pontoon boats and kayaks
208 634-8605

Public Boat Launch Ramps & Landings

Mile High Marina Boat Launch Ramp
Located in the southeast corner of the lake, off E lake Street, this is a five-lane, concrete ramp with docks and paved parking.

Ponderosa State Park Boat Launch Ramp
Located in the southeast section of the main lake, off State Park Road, this is a three-lane, concrete ramp with docks and paved parking.


Mile High Marina
1300 E Lake St
McCall, ID 83638
208 634-8605

Fishing Guides On Payette Lake

Payette Lake Fishing Guided Trips - kokanee salmon

If you offer fishing guide services on this lake, please contact us for a free listing, to be posted here.

Fishing License

Click here for a Idaho Fishing License.

Camping is a popular activity for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Payette Lake. The area offers several campgrounds, both public and private, where visitors can set up their tents or park their RVs. Camping near Payette Lake allows anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to wake up to stunning lake views, enjoy evenings under starry skies, and have convenient access to the fishing hotspots along the shoreline.

Campgrounds & RV Parks Nearby

Tower Rock Recreation Site Campground - 208 756-5400

Golden RV Park - 208 634-5389

Payette River RV Park - 208 634-5646

Payette Lake ID Map - Fishing & Camping Areas

Contact Information

Payette Lake
Mile High Marina
1300 E. Lake Street
McCall, Idaho 83638
208 634-8605


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