Snake River (Steelhead)
We are on the precipice of prime steelhead fishing on the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers. Fish counts at Bonneville Dam and Lower Granite are about 15 percent lower than this time last year, but the numbers are still strong. Anglers are averaging about 11 hours per fish on the Snake downstream from the Salmon . The South, Middle and North forks of the Clearwater open Oct. 15 — catch-and-release anglers have been averaging about 5 hours per fish between Memorial Bridge and Orofino Bridge. Throw plugs, jigs, flies, spoons, roe and all your favorite steelhead lures and baits. Only fish with a clipped adipose fin may be kept.
Getting there: Check the Fish & Game website for a detailed list of river seasons and rules.
C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
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I’ve heard good reports on bass, perch, crappie and trout, and I’m not surprised. October is magic for bass and perch, and the summerlike weather is keeping warmwater fish even more active than usual. As temperatures cool, the bass and perch action might slow down, but the trout bite should pick up. Most of the panfish are being caught in and around the narrows using crappie jigs, worms and small spinners or crankbaits. You can hunt smallmouth bass near rocky points or largemouth bass in the weed beds using soft plastics, spinnerbaits or jigs. Trout fishermen usually troll parallel to the banks or use some combination of worms, marshmallows and Power Bait from the shore.
Getting there: Take Interstate 84 to Mountain Home and go south.
Owyhee River (Trout)
The action has cooled off a bit where one of the biggest trico hatches in recent memory kept fly fishermen’s reels zinging for weeks. But the fish are still there, and nothing beats catching and releasing a 20-inch brown trout in full spawning colors. Take a variety of flies and try to match whatever is buzzing/crawling around. The Owyhee is known for big fish, and they’re as big as ever in the fall.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Boise River (Trout) and Snake River (Bass)
More than 4,000 rainbow trout will be stocked in the Boise during October, which will create opportunities to catch some tasty pan-sized fish as well as those rare bigger rainbows and browns. Use spinners, flies or live worms. On the Snake, smallmouth bass continue to hit aggressively on crayfish and minnow-patterned lures and flies. Catfish are still feeding on worms, cut bait and chicken parts, and running into a school of fat perch is always a possibility.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge on the Boise. Fishing on the Snake is good between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.