Catch a fish from camp at these Idaho reservoir campgrounds

rphillips@idahostatesman.comMarch 16, 2013 

Whether at a developed campground or an undeveloped spot near shore, reservoirs are fun places to camp and fish.

ROGER PHILLIPS — rphillips@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Grab your bait bucket, lawn chair and cooler - a reservoir awaits you.

It's hard to be beat shore-side camping, or being within a short walk of a reservoir. You have fishing out your front door, and you also get the simple pleasure waking up to sunrise on the water.

Spring is the perfect time of year for many reservoirs in Southwest Idaho. When the heat of summer arrives, they can get pretty toasty and the fish tend to get lethargic. Many reservoirs also get drained by irrigators, which can leave a muddy bathtub ring.

But warm weather and cool water are an unbeatable combination for spring camping, and here are some places to check out:

MOUNTAIN VIEW

Where: On the Duck Valley Indian Reservation on the Idaho/Nevada border

What you can catch there: Rainbow trout.

Why it's cool: This high-desert reservoir is a good mix of comfortable camping, good fishing and scenery.

You camp and fish in the green valley with rolling hills and Nevada's mountains forming a jagged horizon to the south.

The reservoir is owned and operated by the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe and well-stocked with rainbow trout. A tribal fishing license is required.

The trout aren't the same as the ones stocked by Idaho Fish and Game, and it's noticeable. The Duck Valley fish are aggressive fish that will put a bend in your rod. There are also trophy trout in reservoir ranging up to 7 or 8 pounds.

The reservoir has a boat launch and is open to motorized boats, but still comfortable for float tubers because it has lots of coves and bays.

Camping costs $6 to $15 per night with the higher cost for sites with electric hookups.

If you prefer undeveloped camping, there are spots available at nearby Billy Shaw and Sheep Creek reservoirs, which are also on the reservation.

For details, go to shopaitribes.org.

MAGIC

Where: South of U.S. 20 between Fairfield and Idaho 75. You can also access it off Idaho 75 by going north from Shoshone.

What you can catch there: Rainbow trout, brown trout, perch, smallmouth bass.

Why it's cool: Magic often lives up to its name. The fish sometimes appear and disappear as if by magic. But it typically fishes best during spring, and it has some great trout fishing with some real monsters if it's your lucky day.

There's a developed Bureau of Land Management campground at Lava Point on the northwest end of the reservoir.

It has a boat launch, outhouse, picnic tables, fire pits, and no fees. Don't expect a lot of privacy or shade.

Myrtle Point also has camping with an outhouse and picnic shelter. There's undeveloped camping on the west side of the dam area and other areas surrounding the reservoir, most of which is BLM property.

There's a bar, restaurant and store at West Magic Resort, which rents fully furnished cabins for $100 per night. Each cabin sleep four.

There are 30 RV spaces, but reservations are a must. RV spaces are $30 per night with water, power and sewer hookups.

For reservations or details call 487-2571, or go to facebook.com/westmagicresort.

MANN CREEK RESERVOIR

Where: Located off U.S. 95 about 15 miles north of Weiser on Mann Creek Reservoir Road.

What you can catch there: Rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie.

Why it's cool: Mann Creek Reservoir is nicely located at just under 3,000 feet elevation at the base of mountains.

That means you have a mild climate and good spring camping, but also access to the higher country nearby.

A Forest Service campground is located at the upper end of the reservoir and has 13 spaces in a nicely landscaped, shady area.

You can reserve campsites at recreation.gov or call (877) 444-6777.

The campground has good access for RVs, and also some nice tent spots. You're not right on the water, but very close to it.

The lower end of the reservoir has a boat launch, and there's good shore access around the reservoir making it a nice place for shore anglers and boaters.

Trout fishing is probably most popular at the reservoir because there's a mix of stocked and wild rainbow trout. But you can also catch bass there.

HORSETHIEF

Where: Located east of Cascade. Take Warm Lake Road 6 miles to the marked Horsethief turnoff.

What you can catch there: Rainbow trout, brown trout.

Why it's cool: This reservoir feels more like a mountain lake because it's located at about 4,800 feet elevation and surrounded by timber.

It's a pretty developed area with a mix of private lands and public lands owned by the Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game.

The reservoir is well-stocked with trout and there's good hold over from year to year, so they get a chance to grow. But it also gets lots of fishing pressure, so don't expect lots of big trout.

There are many campsites nicely tucked into the trees, but it's also a popular area that gets really packed during summer and holiday weekends.

There are outhouses, fire pits, etc., and no fees to camp there. There are good sites for both tents and RVs. There are also water pumps at central locations.

The reservoir is 275 acres, which makes it a nice size for small craft including small motorboats, canoes, kayaks and float tubes.

SALMON FALLS CREEK

Where: Located south of Twin Falls near Rogerson.

What you can catch there: Trout, bass, walleye, perch, and more.

Why it's cool: This is a really interesting reservoir that's often overlooked by Treasure Valley anglers.

It's about a three-hour drive from the Treasure Valley, and the only developed campground is at Lud Drexler Park near the dam on the north end of the reservoir.

The campground has 20 spaces, and has outhouses and drinking water. There's also a boat launch there, and camping is $5 per night.

There's also undeveloped camping at Norton Bay and Grays Landing south of Lud Drexler Park on the east side of the reservoir, or wherever else you can find access to the reservoir's shoreline.

The land around the 14-mile reservoir is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

This reservoir has an interesting mix of fish, including walleye. You can also catch trout, bass and other species there.

Bring all your tackle and see how many different fish you can catch.

This reservoir is best suited for boating because it's large and much of the shoreline is not easily accessible.

LITTLE CAMAS

Where: Located on U.S. 20 between Mountain Home and Fairfield about and hour and a half from the Treasure Valley.

What you can catch there: Rainbow trout, smallmouth bass.

Why it's cool: Better get there fast because this river is getting drained for irrigation this year and Idaho Fish and Game has already put salvage rules on it. That means you can keep as many fish as you can catch out of it. That's sad after it carried over fish for a few years.

This won't be as picturesque as usual because of low water, but it's still worth a look.

There's undeveloped camping along the shoreline, and also a private campground that's within walking distance of the reservoir.

You can bring your tent or RV (hookups available), or even rent an RV on-site.

There are cabins for rent that sleep four with a separate bedroom with queen-size bed and sofa bed (no linens provided) and kitchen with all amenities.

For details, go to fortrunningbear.com or call 653-2494.

The Little Camas Inn also reopened in November and is open six days per week (closed Tuesdays) so you don't have to pack a cooler. Stop in the restaurant for a burger and beer. They will also sell you bait.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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