Newman Lake Fishing: Catch More Bass and Panfish

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Just outside Spokane, near the Idaho state line, Newman Lake supports several fishing opportunities worth your casts.

One reason is it’s one of just a handful of lakes in Washington stocked with tiger muskies, a sterile crossbreed introduced in part to control other fish species but that also so happens to be one of the most challenging fish in freshwater angling.

While tiger muskies are typically pursued by the most determined and experienced anglers, Newman Lake also offers lots of fish that are easier to catch: largemouth bass, black crappie and bluegill, among others.

In the past, the Newman Lake was stocked with brown and rainbow trout, and you still might catch an occasional trout, perhaps resident brook trout.

However, there are far better places to catch trout in this area while Newman Lake is managed for excellent warmwater fishing.

Fishing is open year-round, but much of the effort takes place in the warmer months from spring, through summer and partway into fall.

With so many types of fish, found in good numbers in a lake that spreads out well over 1,000 acres, Newman Lake is a popular family destination.

Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass are a popular attraction at Newman Lake, which with some other regional waters including Eloika Lake helps keep Spokane-area bassers busy with bucketmouths.

Newman Lake offers its best prospects for largemouth bass fishing between May and September, but serious trophy anglers pursuing larger fish will push those limits a bit into cooler conditions in either direction.

Newman Lake is a quality habitat, and bass that grow up to 4 pounds or more are not uncommon.

Largemouth bass will eat nearly anything they can swallow, including rodents, amphibians and even birds, although smaller fish, crayfish and other aquatic animals make up the bulk of their diets.

Large lures that imitate prey species can work well.

Many sporting bass anglers release their best catches, probably after a quick photo, so they often will avoid fishing with bait.

Bass tend to swallow still- or slow-fished baits deeply, which can cause fatal injuries, while moving lures more often result in lip-hooked bass.

Especially during warmer weather, the best fishing for largemouth bass will come either in the morning, before it gets bright and warm out, or the evening, once the sun is low in the sky or has set altogether.

Several sources also note the presence of smallmouth bass at Newman, although the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) doesn’t list smallies among the fish population.

Whatever bass species you want to catch, we suggest you take a read through our the tips and techniques found in our simple bass fishing guide.

Panfish Fishing

Newman Lake also supports a wide array of panfish, including bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, black crappie and yellow perch. Bullhead catfish may also appear in your catch, especially if you fish with bait near the bottom.

Panfish are typically smaller than bass but they can often be caught in larger numbers, they are simpler to catch for anglers of all skills levels, and they are generally better to eat for those looking for a meal from their day’s fishing.

The closely related bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish are most easily caught starting when the water gets warmer in June and continuing into September.

These species are often caught near weeds, docks or other hiding spots, often quite close to the bank.

Learn more about bluegill and sunfish fishing in our simple how-to article.

Crappie tend to come on slightly earlier, at their best from April through June, a period they typically includes their spawning season.

Spawning crappie will often gather in numbers in shallower water, where they are easier to target than at other times of the year.

Crappie populations do tend to be cyclical, so you may get a great year or two of crappie fishing followed by some less-productive seasons.

We also have lots of tips to help you catch more crappie.

Perch prospects can be up and down, but these schooling fish are eager biters and tasty for the table if you happen to run across a good number of them and use simple yellow perch fishing techniques to catch them.

In general, you’re going to want to use small hooks when fishing for panfish, particularly sunfish like bluegill and pumpkinseed, which have very small mouths and don’t eat anything larger than aquatic insects.

Tiger Muskie Fishing

For thrill-seeking advanced anglers, the main event at Newman Lake is, of course, the ferocious tiger muskie.

A hybridization between the true muskellunge and the northern pike, the tiger muskie is a purpose-bred predator — and a trophy fish.

Tiger muskies can grow more than 4 feet long.

Unsurprisingly, given their size, they are strong fish that can easily overpower the inexperienced or unprepared angler or lightweight fishing equipment.

Tiger muskies have mouths full of sharp teeth, making a durable line — and long-handled pliers, to remove embedded hooks — an absolute must.

In Newman Lake, tiger muskies tend to prefer shallow waters in the spring, but sometimes moving into progressively deeper parts of the lake in the summer and fall.

Look for them near the tops of weed beds, where they will lie in wait for prey.

May through September is the best time of year to fish for tiger muskies on Newman Lake.

Tiger muskies are famous as “the fish of 1,000 casts,” and it’s common for an entire day of fishing to go without reward.

It’s difficult to entice them to bite, it’s difficult to keep them on the line, and it’s difficult to haul them to the net.

Since tiger muskies can’t naturally sustain their population, it’s imperative to return them to the water quickly after catching them.

If you manage to catch one longer than 50 inches, you are legally allowed to retain one such monster per day under Washington’s sport fishing regulations, although many sport anglers are plenty happy with a quick photo before releasing the giant muskies.

Read more about Washington’s best tiger muskie fishing lakes, including some suggestions of how to improve your odds of catching them.

Where is Newman Lake?

Newman Lake is about 12 miles east of Spokane, just outside and to the north of Spokane Valley, its largest suburb.

State Route 290 (which becomes Idaho Route 53 east of the state line) runs a little south of the lake.

Turn north onto North Starr Road and follow it up to the lake.

Newman Lake is slightly closer to Coeur d’Alene than Spokane, but it’s convenient to both communities, just a 15- to 30-minute drive from much of the area.

Bank and Boat Access

A depth map of Newman Lake.
Spokane County photo

Newman Lake is not only large, it’s quite shallow.

Potential fish-holding habitat includes shallow and weedy banks in less-developed areas on both the north and south ends, and lots of private docks that accompany homes that line much of the rest of the shoreline.

There’s an accessible fishing dock and boat launch maintained by the WDFW on the eastern shore, along Northeast Newman Lake Drive.

If you boat or hike out to the McKenzie Conservation Area at the north end of the lake, you can fish from the shore there.

Other access is limited, although there is a private resort or two as well.

There are no special fishing regulations or restrictions on Newman Lake beyond the statewide rules covering its species.

Find more fishing spots in Spokane County

Washington Resources

WDFW Fishing and Stocking Reports
WDFW Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service forecasts