Hagerman Ponds (trout)
The trout are still biting at the Hagerman fish hatcheries, which are open through Halloween. I took my fishing class there last weekend and the group was catching fish on worms, corn, crankbaits and spinners. Our haul included mostly pan-sized rainbows, with a few bigger albino “banana” trout mixed in. The ponds get mossy this time of year, so take a small watercraft to paddle into clearer waters, or look for some current to help keep your line free of weeds. Power Bait, spoons, nymphs and streamers should also attract some attention from trout. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for bass and bluegill.
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take Exit 147, head south and follow the signs to the hatchery.
Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers (steelhead)
Steelhead fishing is starting to come on, with catch rates averaging between one and 10 hours per fish on popular stretches of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers according to the Idaho Fish and Game website. Fall steelhead fishing will open for harvest Oct. 15 with a reduced bag limit of two fish per day. Barbless hooks and a $12.50 steelhead permit are required. Check the Fish and Game website for other regulations. Casting or trolling plugs, bouncing bait, drifting streamers or bobber fishing with jigs are effective methods for enticing a steelhead. Bonus trout, including protected bull trout, are always possible.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of fish counts, seasons and rules, and the latest fishing reports.
Brownlee Reservoir (crappie)
Water levels are on the rise at Brownlee, which should open additional boating access. The crappie were biting on my last visit to Brownlee, and there were some nice ones. Look for schools of fish holding in shallow water near rocky points, coves and current eddies. Panfish jigs in red, orange, yellow or white are the ticket. In addition to crappie, we caught smallmouth bass and channel catfish on our last trip. Catfish will bite on worms, cut bait, jigs and crankbaits. Bass are hitting on jigs, crayfish-colored crankbaits, Senkos and other soft plastics.
Getting there: Brownlee is a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border. Popular access points include Steck Park near Weiser on the Idaho side and Spring Marina near Huntington in Oregon.
Columbia River (chinook)
Last call for fall salmon on the Columbia. The season closes Oct. 22, but fishing should be great until then. Trolling with plugs, flashers, tuna or roe is the ticket. A Washington day license is $20, and it costs $150-200 to get on with a guide (if you can find an opening). Shore fishing is also available.
Getting there: Fish near The Dalles or on the Hanford Reach north of Tri-Cities.
Get ready for ice fishing
Winter is coming, and I’m teaching an ice fishing class this fall through The College of Idaho’s Community Learning program in Caldwell.
Join me Nov. 14 and 16 for “Ice Fishing 101,” which focuses on the gear, tackle and knowledge you’ll need to catch fish through the ice this winter. The course costs $59, which includes four hours of classroom instruction and activities (6-8 p.m. Nov. 14 and 16 in the Marty Holly Athletics Center) and a Saturday ice fishing trip at a date to be determined. Every participant receives a tackle goodie bag, plus chances to win awesome prizes. Register online at www.cofifun.com. For more info, call 208-459-5188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.