Duck Valley Indian Reservation has some of southern Idaho's finest trout fishing

rphillips@idahostatesman.comMay 23, 2013 

You may not go to hear the birds, but you can't avoid it. There's an amazing soundtrack of chirps, squawks, quacks, honks, trills and whistles.

It's audio evidence of a diversity of songbirds, waterfowl and shore birds that use the area as their permanent home or a convenient stopover on their northerly migration.

But you're probably there for the fishing, and hit it on the right day, and you will get some of the best trout fishing to be found in southern Idaho and northern Nevada.

AN ANGLER'S OASIS

Duck Valley has three reservoirs: Mountain View, Billy Shaw and Sheep Creek.

All three are stocked each fall and spring (they were just stocked this week) with about 36,000 trout from the Black Canyon hatchery near Grace.

The rainbow trout are different fish than those stocked in Idaho reservoirs by Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Edmund Murrell, tribal director for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said they've stocked the Black Canyon fish for more than 20 years because they're raised in large ponds and know how to naturally find food, not just eat fish pellets.

"The quality of fish we get is really good," he said. "They are good biting and fighting fish. They jump and fight really well."

Hook one and you will notice the difference.

The fish are also pretty aggressive, so bring your favorite tackle and give them a try.

But remember, the rules differ depending on which reservoir you're at.

MOUNTAIN VIEW

This 640-acre reservoir is the most developed of the three. It's also the closest (if you're coming from the Treasure Valley) and easiest to get to because it's only about three miles from the highway after you get to the reservation. Look for the large billboard right before you get to town.

If you have an RV or a motorboat, this is probably your best option.

"It's by far the one that's fished the most," Murrell said.

Mountain View and Sheep Creek are open for one or two fishing rods per angler (with appropriate permit). Single and treble hooks are allowed. Any artificial lure, fly or bait may be used, but no live baits except earthworms are allowed).

Adults are allowed to harvest five trout on a daily basis. However, adults are allowed to retain only 10 trout in possession. Children under 12 years old may harvest four trout daily and have eight in possession. There are no size limits for these reservoirs.

Murrell said the weed problem that has persisted during summer at Mountain View has been improved with the addition of grass carp to eat the vegetation.

"Those fish have done a really good job," he said.

In recent summers, weeds got so bad there was only a small pool of water near the dam that wasn't weed choked, he said.

But last summer, you could run a boat from one end of the reservoir to the other without fouling your propellor with vegetation.

BILLY SHAW

The tribe used to charge premium prices to fish this 430-acre reservoir, but now it's the same price as the others (see below).

This reservoir is limited to fly fishing only, and anglers can use only a fly rod and a single barbless hook.

Harvest is limited to one fish per day, and it must be between 16 and 19 inches long. Only electric-powered motors are allowed on Billy Shaw.

Because it's limited to fly fishing, this reservoir typically has the least fishing pressure.

It also gets about half as many fish stocked as the other two reservoirs. That doesn't mean it has a shortage of fish.

Because of the one fish limit, and because many fly anglers practice catch-and-release, there are plenty. The average size also tends to be larger. The reservoir has lots of feed, and there's good survival of fish from year to year, so they have a chance to grow.

SHEEP CREEK

This 860-acre reservoir is the largest of the three. It has the same rules as Mountain View, but it also has a bonus fishery. It has produced two Nevada state-record smallmouth bass.

Trout is still the mainstay fishery, and many of the smallmouths are caught incidentally while people are trout fishing.

But Murrell said because of the state records, some anglers do target smallmouth bass.

The area doesn't get as much fishing pressure as Mountain View, but it gets more than Billy Shaw.

You can use motorized boats there, and there's a boat launch as well.

If anglers haven't been to Sheep Creek in several years, they will find the clarity has returned, and so has the fishing.

"Now it has gone back to its old self and producing good fishing," Murrell said.

CAMPING

There's a developed campground at Mountain View Reservoir, and also isolated campsites with shade shelters and picnic tables.

Most campsites are general, nonelectrical sites and require a $6 daily general camping permit. Camping fees are charged per vehicle, not per campsite. You can get a general camping permit at the same time you get your fishing license from one of the vendors below.

There are 12 sites at Mountain View Reservoir that have electrical hook ups. Those sites cost $15 per night and must be reserved and paid for at Our Grocery Store. Call (775) 757-3301 for availability.

There are also picnic tables, shelters and outhouses at Sheep Creek Reservoir, as well as an RV dump station.

Billy Shaw has undeveloped camping, but there are outhouses located around the reservoir. If you camp at unimproved spots, you still must pay the $6 per night camping fee.

FISHING LICENSES

You don't need a state license to fish the reservoirs. Daily permits on the reservation are $15 per day for adults using one pole and $20 per day for two poles. Youth 14 years and younger fish for $3 per day.

Season licenses cost $85 for adults.

Permits are available at the reservation store, at Sportsman's Warehouse locations in Meridian, Nampa and Twin Falls, Cabela's in Boise, The Fishin' Hole in Bruneau, Gus' Gas in Grand View, Idaho Angler in Boise, and East Cleveland Beverage in Caldwell.

BIRD WATCHING

Even if you're not a "bird watcher," you will still be fascinated by the bird life because of the variety.

The reservoirs are temporary or permanent homes to lots of birds, and you can see birds that aren't common to the Treasure Valley, such as ibis, ruddy ducks, redheads and canvasback.

"Duck Valley is an awesome place, especially in the spring," said Greg Kaltenecker, executive director of the BSU's Idaho Bird Observatory. "It usually has a good amount of water from snowmelt and is a magnet for spring migrants. It is a good place for breeding waterbirds, too, but I think a lot of the diversity you see there in the spring is due to migrants."

MORE INFORMATION

You can learn more about Duck Valley Indian Reservation and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes at shopaitribes.org.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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