Written by Chris Webber, Lake Cascade Guide
In the last few years Lake Cascade has leaped to the forefront of “bucket list” fishing destinations. Everyone wants to see a real life 15-inch, 2 lb. perch. Yes, the pictures are real. Lake Cascade offers the best chance in North America to catch a 2 lb. perch. Here’s what you need to know to plan a trip to Lake Cascade this winter.
Traveling to Lake Cascade can be a logistical challenge. Airfare, lodging and car rental from Boise, Idaho all take time to plan. Most people fly into Boise and rent a car. From there, Cascade is a 1.5-hour drive north. I always suggest finding an Airbnb in Cascade. This is usually the most effective way split the lodging cost amongst a group of guys. Hotel options include Tamarack Resort or Hotel Nobo. Motel options include Alpine Lodge, Lake Cascade Inn and Birch Glenn Lodge.
Five days seems to be the perfect length for an ice fishing trip to Cascade. Two days for travel and three
days of fishing. Some diehards will fish for five days, but this seems to be a little long for most. The best time to come to Cascade for ice conditions is January 15th- March 15th. The next step is to decide to fish on your own with rentals or hire a guide. I’ll be the first to admit, there are not many guides on the lake. This means that we book up early so planning ahead is key. Most people book their ice fishing trips by November. Some groups book up to a year in advance. Rentals are also an option, and there are a few outfits that have the essentials. Snowmobiles, augers, shacks etc. are all available through Tackle Toms in Cascade. Call Matt-920.728.2817 with Tackle Toms, he will help you out with rentals.
If you hire a guide, try not to bring much gear. Guides provide everything. I welcome additional live-
scopes, but you can leave all of your other fishing tackle at home. I have had clients bring their own rods
and tackle which leads to a bad fishing experience. It’s better to use the guide’s rods and equipment so
that you have the best chance at catching fish. Also, if a guide’s rod gets broken, it’s not going to ruin the
fishing trip. Guided trips provide snowmobiles, heated shacks, live-scopes, rods, tackle and snacks.
Basically, show up with warm clothes and a fishing license and you’re good to go.
You can, of course, trailer your gear from your home state. The main problem with this is the chance of running into a snowstorm. It can extend your travel time by hours, if not days. Flying is usually the best way to get to Cascade in the winter. Cascade is a small town, less than 2,000 people. It still has a small-town feel, and the people are very welcoming. There are plenty of restaurants in town like Lake Front and Whistlestop. The Valley Club is the local watering hole. The city of McCall is also a 35-minute drive north. They have more restaurants, breweries, and bars. There are also two world class ski resorts within 45 minutes of Cascade, Tamarack Resort and Brundage Resort.
As for the fishing, catching a 2 lb. perch is often the most challenging part. Lake Cascade is a world class
fishery, especially for large yellow perch. However, it can be difficult to figure out the bite. Hiring a guide and doing research ahead of time can dramatically speed up the learning curve. I always say that when you are on a guided trip you don’t pay for the fish, you pay for the education. Learning the lake can take time, but when you figure it out its all worth it. There is nothing like seeing that massive Lake Cascade 2-pound perch coming through the ice.
From personal experience guiding perch anglers 7 days a week, all ice season long, I would estimate about half the people I take out go home with a perch bigger than 14 inches. There are also plenty of smaller perch in the lake that are great eaters, 10-13 inches. Skunks are very rare, 2 in the last 200 people. Both of the guys who got skunked the day before caught fish larger than 14 inches the next day. Most people who come all the way from the Midwest have a goal of catching a 2 lb. perch. This goal is achievable, but I always want the expectation to meet the reality. Many people go home never catching that 2 pounder. YouTube, Instagram and Facebook can distort a person’s expectation. That being said, I always say it’s hard to have a bad day fishing Lake Cascade with how beautiful the scenery is. The lake is surrounded by picturesque snow-covered mountains.
I hope this helps you out with planning your trip to Lake Cascade. Good luck fishing, and we’ll see you on
Clam Ice Team Member
Guide for Tamarack Resort
Guide for Tackle Tom’s