The lake has great rainbow trout fishing all year round.
Williams Lake was formed approximately 6,000 years ago when a landslide, probably triggered by an earthquake, blocked Lake Creek, the primary source of inflow. From 1941 to 1983 the Idaho Department of Fish and Game stocked the lake with rainbow trout, but discontinued stocking when it was discovered that a self-sustaining population had become established. Today, the productive waters of Williams Lake yield rainbow trout of up to two pounds. This year-round fishery, with its easy access, is a great area for the novice and experience angler alike.
The cool, productive waters of this lake are ideal for trout. Wild rainbow averaging 13 to 16 inches are common in the creel with some weighing up to two pounds. Keep an eye out for the occasional bull trout as well.
In general, the best times to fish are in the spring, during and immediately following ice-out; the fall, as water temperatures drop; and the winter, when the lake is ice covered.
Shore anglers can be most successful using small pieces of marshmallow with a worm or eggs. The marshmallow floats the bait above the bottom where fish can see it. The basic medium weight rod and reel with 6 - 8 lb. test line and no. 8 or 10 hooks are about all you need to get started. The best areas for shore anglers are near the two primary access sites and at the walk-in campground area on the southwest part of the lake.
Trolling is also a popular and effective way to fish Williams Lake. Most anglers are successful using pop gear with a nightcrawler. Your boat speed should be adjusted to keep tackle in the upper 25 feet of water. You may also wish to try other types of gear including flatfish, flies and small gold or green-colored trout lures.
Williams Lake is a great place to try fly fishing. Wading or tubing can provide even the beginner with success. Black or olive wooly buggars, leeches or scuds fished weighted (lightly) with floating lines, or unweighted with a slow sinking line, is effective. Sometimes savage strikes can be enticed with muddler minnows or white maribou streamers fished with an erratic retrieve.
Occasionally, anglers find that fish caught during the summer months have a slightly "mossy" taste. This is due to the warmer water temperature and algae blooms which sometimes occur. This can be eliminated fairly easily by bleeding the fish immediately after landing. This is done by making a vertical cut from the underside of the fish, just ahead of the tail fin up to the spine. The fish should then be immediately iced.
Ice fishing on Williams Lake can be really exciting. It provides the only ice fishery in the Salmon area and conditions are generally good from December through March. REMEMBER, when ice fishing, safety is the key. Check the ice carefully, dress in layers to keep warm, and be alert for rapidly-changing weather conditions.
You will need an ice auger and strainer to keep ice cleared from the holes. A short ice fishing rod or the tip portion of an old rod with a simple reel, or specially designed tip-ups can be used. Bright-colored ice flies or jigs baited with maggots or fresh fish eggs are effective tackle. The best technique is to work the bait by jigging (moving it up and down in an irregular pattern) through the upper 25 feet of water.
As mentioned earlier, you may catch the occasional bull trout at Williams Lake, and though there are no special regulations, we encourage anglers to practice catch and release since the population of bull trout is limited. The best procedures are as follows:
If you intend to release fish, using barb-less hooks will make hook removal much easier.
Do not over-play the fish, retrieve it quickly.
Do not handle the fish by the gills.
Do not remove the fish from the water.
If hooked in the lip area, carefully back the hook out. If hooked deeper in the throat or gill area, cut the line as close to the hook as possible. It will rust out or pass through the fish.
Release the fish by gently holding upright and moving forward and backward until it is ready to swim away.
Bull Trout are typically olive green to brown on back and sides, lightening to white on the belly. Look for yellow spots on upper body and red or orange spots on the sides. A whitish border on fins may be evident.
Williams Lake Rainbow Trout Forest Services 208-334-4199