Southwest Idaho's urban-fishing ponds have something for everyone.
Sound cliche? Sorry, but it's true if you really think about the fun and varied experiences those ponds provide.
Your favorite mountain lake may have better scenery, but can you get a slice of pizza there?
Your favorite trout stream may have great fishing, but can the kids take a break and play on a swing set?
Want to catch a trophy bass?
Look no further than ponds in city parks for some really cool experiences close to home. There are lots of choices.
Urban fishing ponds offer activities that make them great outings for families, said Rick Alsager, manager of Idaho Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery.
When it comes to knowing all the fishing secrets, Alsager is the go-to guy.
At the height of fishing season, he is making sure that more than 20,000 catchable-size trout are heading to the right fishing holes each month.
If you're looking for a certain experience while out fishing, here's a guide to some of the region's best ponds:
ParkCenter Pond in Boise is regularly stocked with trout, but if your stomach starts growling, no need to worry.
It's located minutes - make that steps - from burger and pizza places.
Getting there: ParkCenter Pond is located at 385 E. ParkCenter Blvd.
Other stuff: The docks provide easy access for kids and seniors. It's a good spot for watching nesting geese and other birds. It's close to the Boise Greenbelt.
The pond at Reid W. Merrill's Community Park in Eagle is close to a playground, so if the kids get bored with fishing, you can wear them out on the playground equipment.
Getting there: 637 E. Shore Drive, located in the Eagle River Development.
Boise's Charles F. McDevitt Youth Sports Complex at 5101 N. Eagle Road and Meridian's Settlers Park at 3245 N. Meridian Road, are close runners-up.
Other stuff at Merrill's Park: The park also features picnic areas, wetland/riparian areas, an observation gazebo, foot paths, a children's water-play area, and volleyball and basketball courts. The nearby restaurants also make this a good choice for fishing with the family.
BEST BOAT FISHING
Quinns Pond in Boise has some of the easiest access if you want to fish from a fishing kayak, canoe or pontoon boat. It's only a short walk from parking.
Getting there: You'll see anglers trolling for trout on this pond located at 3150 W. Pleasant Ave. Use a black leech.
Other stuff: It has docks for fishing and swimming, a sloped beach area near the Boise River Park, and kayak and canoe rentals nearby at Idaho River Sports.
Horseshoe Bend Mill Pond, north of Horseshoe Bend, got the vote from Fish and Game for a best bluegill fishing spot for kids. It's surprising because it's thought of mainly as a put-and-take trout fishing spot.
There are lots of bluegill, and they're easy to catch. Another plus is that the pond is stocked regularly with trout and kids also will have a chance to hook into a hefty bass.
Getting there: The pond is located just north of Horseshoe Bend on Idaho 55. You can't miss it. It's on the right side just before you cross the river north of town.
Other stuff : It's perfect for small fishing cats, kayaks and canoes. It also has a picnic area.
EASIEST FOR FISHING
Wilson Springs Ponds in Nampa is one of the easiest places for kids to catch trout. They can see the fish in the ponds, which gets pretty exciting.
Trout are stocked every week making it a sure-fire bet for catching fish.
Getting there: The pond is located on South Powerline Road next to the Idaho Fish and Game Southwest Region Office.
Other stuff: If the kids get bored with fishing, the ponds are great for bird watching and seeing other critters. It's good for a short hike to burn energy.
BEST NATURAL SETTING
Caldwell Ponds offer a natural setting in a cattail and marshy area that's rich in birds and wildlife. It's close to the Lower Boise River.
If you just want to cast out a line and pick up the binoculars, this is the place to relax and chock up sightings for your lifetime bird list.
The ponds, which are in a rural setting, are stocked with trout, but have a variety of warmwater fish.
Getting there: From Interstate 84, take Exit 26, Notus/Parma. Turn west on U.S. 20/26 and travel ninetenths of a mile to Pond Lane. Go south on Pond Lane to the ponds' parking area.
Other stuff : There is a fishing dock and several fishing spots along the shoreline where you can enjoy fishing in the shade from nearby trees.
Bird photography is a good bet, especially if you get in a float tube and float around the hidden areas of the cattails.
Airport Pond near Emmett is known for its scrappy bullheads; kids love catching them.
A small pond is a mix of open shoreline and cattails. Best fishing is with small fishing kayaks or float tubes. The pond is also known for having lots of bluegills, which are fun for kids with a worm and bobber.
Getting there: From the junction of Idaho 52 and 16 at Emmett, travel 1.6 miles west on Idaho 52. At Airport Road turn south and go a half mile to the pond turnoff (just before the golf course). Turn west and go one-tenth of a mile to pond.
Other stuff: It's in a rural, natural setting for wildlife watching.
BEST TROPHY BASS
Sawyers Pond near Emmett has some hefty 5-pound bass that eat catchable trout for lunch. That's big.
It's also a good place to launch the float tube and get away from people.
Getting there: This pond is west of Emmett on Idaho 52. Turn left onto Mill Road near Milepost 30 and travel seven-tenths of a mile to Sales Yard Road.
Turn right and follow Sales Yard Road for two-tenths of a mile to Sawyers Pond.
Other stuff: The pond has a small boat ramp and docks that offer good access for people with disabilities. It also has trout, crappie and bluegill.
Marsing Pond in Marsing is spring fed and stocked with trout all summer, even in the hottest of weather.
It's a good place to take kids fishing. If dad wants to hook into some larger catfish, all he has to do is walk over to the nearby Snake River. Wilson Springs Pond comes in just as close for consistent trout fishing winter and summer.
Getting there: Drive Idaho 55 west to Marsing. The park is on the east side of the highway just after crossing the Snake River.
Other stuff:The park is a good place for kids to play, just watch them around the Snake River. The Snake River has plenty of bird-watching opportunities. You just have to sit there and watch the flocks go by.
BEST MYSTERY POND
Veterans Pond is the place if you're up to the challenge.
It is regularly stocked with trout, has big bass and a variety of other fish. But, it's darn difficult to fish.
The banks are steep and the lake is deep. That makes it hard to get to fish and offer bait, lure or fly.
The best method may be to haul a float tube to the pond and troll for fish.
Dragging a black leech may be the ticket.
Getting there: Go to Veterans Park off Veterans Parkway and State Street in Boise, park and walk to the pond along the Boise Greenbelt.
Other stuff: It's close to restaurants, and it's located along the Greenbelt for a walk, wildlife watching, or to switch to fishing in the Boise River.
So, go out and cast a line and have a burger; or, swing a fly and let the kids swing on the playground equipment.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors