OWYHEE RIVER (TROUT)
I’m still getting dynamite reports from fly fishermen on the Owyhee. The brown trout are as big and aggressive as ever and there are plenty of bug hatches to keep them on the hunt. It’s getting to be peak spawning season for browns, so catch-and-release is recommended. The water levels are pretty low, so bring your polarized glasses and you might get an opportunity for some pulse-pounding sight fishing.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
LAKE LOWELL (BASS)
As mentioned in today’s Fish Rap column, my last trip to Lowell was a slow one. But I include it here because Sept. 30 is the last day to fish Lowell from a motorized boat. Water levels are much higher than usual for this time of year, and all three boat ramps are open. If you’re reading this over your morning coffee, call in sick and enjoy one last largemouth hurrah. Don’t expect the catch rates of spring and early summer, but fish will still take soft plastics, spinnerbaits, topwater frogs and other bass favorites fished close to the weed lines, or crankbaits rattled along rocky shorelines. Bank fishing is open year-round, and anglers have caught some nice catfish from the dams this summer.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
SNAKE RIVER (STEELHEAD)
Steelhead season is off and running. Fish counts are still lagging behind last year at Bonneville Dam, but the count is slightly higher this year at Lower Granite. As the calendar turns to October, we should really hit the season in full stride. For those who can’t wait until then, get your permit and enjoy the fishing before the crowds show up. Throw plugs, jigs, flies, spoons, roe and all your favorite steelhead baits. Only fish with a clipped adipose fin can be kept.
Getting there: Check the Fish & Game website for a complete list of river seasons and rules.
C.J. STRIKE RESERVOIR (MIXED BAG)
Anglers are catching everything from perch and bluegill to trout and bass. With perfect temperatures and schools of hungry fish, it’s a great time to be out on the water. Live worms and small jigs are the ticket for panfish. Trolling rigs or a worm and marshmallow fished from shore near the dams are the way to go for trout. Both species of bass are available. Throw soft plastics and spinnerbaits in weedy areas for largemouth, or target rocky points and outcroppings with jigs, crankbaits and crayfish-patterned lures for smallmouth. There’s usually some crossover no matter what fish you’re targeting, so be ready for anything.
Getting there: Take Interstate 84 to Mountain Home and go south.
BROWNLEE RESERVOIR (MIXED BAG)
I’m hearing lots of good reports on catfishing in Brownlee. Nice stringers of channel cats and some big flatheads are being caught, usually in the twilight hours or after dark. Favorite baits vary. I’ve been told everything from worms, crickets and homemade stinkbait to cutbait, chicken livers, hot dogs and lobster meat. The Steck Park area is a good place to try, and Brownlee also has quality fishing for bass, crappie and perch.
Getting there: Head west on I-84, take U.S. 95 north toward Weiser and continue northwest to the reservoir, which is part of the Snake River.
BOISE RIVER (TROUT)
Don’t forget about the Boise. It’s right in our backyard, and hard-fighting rainbow trout are there for the enjoyment of fly fishermen, spin fishermen and bait anglers. September and October are two of my favorite months to fish, with sparse crowds, lower water levels and beautiful scenery.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.