If you’re looking for a sure thing, head to the Snake. The fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish continues to flourish and some stretches have flathead catfish and sturgeon. Throw weedless soft plastics, jigs or tube grubs for bass. Catfish prefer cutbait, chicken livers, Mormon crickets or minnows. And a live night crawler will catch just about anything that swims. Fishing is good from shore or from a boat.
Getting there: The fishing is good nearly anywhere between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.
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The Payette is an often overlooked fishery that flows through much of Southwest Idaho. In the Horseshoe Bend area along Idaho 55, there are some great holes for rainbow trout fishing using flies, spinners, worms or Powerbait. As the river mellows out and runs through Emmett, New Plymouth and Payette, the smallmouth bass fishing can be dynamite on crayfish-patterned lures and jigs.
Getting there: The river follows Idaho 52 from Payette to Horseshoe Bend and then Idaho 55 north toward Cascade.
Ponds are a close and convenient bet for weeknight fishing or for taking the kids. Bluegill, bass, trout, catfish and more swim in abundance in many Treasure Valley ponds, and you’d be surprised how many big fish certain ponds can produce. Ask around and do some exploring to figure out which ponds are best for your target species. Most fish won’t turn down a worm or small spinner, and the majority of the ponds have bass if you want to try a top-water frog. A float tube or fishing kayak can get you away from the crowds, too.
Getting there: Ponds are available from Boise to Middleton, and everywhere in between. Idaho Fish and Game has a list of family fishing waters on its website (fishandgame.idaho.gov).
Most reports indicate slower fishing at Cascade in recent weeks, but it’s a fickle lake and the action can turn at a moment’s notice. Anglers are still catching plenty of small perch. If you can find a bigger school, you can fill the live well in a hurry. Bass fishing can be good around rocky shorelines, and trollers are picking up some nice rainbow trout along with the occasional bonus Coho salmon. It’s a beautiful time of year in Cascade, and you’ll almost always catch at least a few fish, so it’s worth the trip.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 to Cascade. Crown Point and Sugarloaf Island are popular access points.
Float season is in full swing, so try fishing below Americana Bridge to avoid the crowds. Rainbow and brown trout will take spinners, flies or bait drifted through deep pools and riffles. There are some awesome-sized trout in the Boise if you’re willing to explore and find some hard-to-get-to nooks and crannies. As the river slows down and heads toward the Snake River west of Caldwell, anglers can also target smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and even catfish.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and Star.
& STREAMS (TROUT)
I’ve been beating this drum for a while, but it bears repeating. This is the best time of year to explore the small alpine lakes and streams that abound in Idaho’s mountainous regions. A small tackle box full of your favorite flies and spinners is all you need.
Getting there: The McCall, Cascade and Stanley areas have dozens of lakes to explore.