Snake, Salmon and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
More than 250,000 steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam, and the season is really hitting its stride. A good friend of mine landed eight fish on one trip last weekend, and I’ve seen and heard lots of good reports from a variety of locations. Some anglers are having luck catching big fall chinook salmon, too. According to the latest harvest report, the Clearwater has the best fish totals and catch rates, with anglers averaging about 6 hours per fish. Head to your favorite spots armed with streamers, jigs, plugs, yarn and roe. Odds are good you’ll have a chance to tangle with a monster. Remember: Only fish with a clipped adipose fin may be kept.
Getting there: Check the Fish and Game website for a detailed list of river seasons and rules.
Payette River (Trout)
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The Payette is an often overlooked trout fishery, and fall is the best time to fish it. There are some really nice rainbows if you know where to find them. Explore different areas along the Idaho 55 stretch of the river. It’s bear country, so bring spray. Anglers usually have success pitching small spinners, nymphs or bait through deep holes behind boulders or fallen logs. Water levels are low right now, so waders or boots are sufficient for working your way to the prime fishing holes.
Getting there: The river follows Idaho 52 from Payette to Horseshoe Bend, and then Idaho 55 north toward Cascade.
Local Ponds (Trout)
Idaho Fish & Game’s aggressive October stocking schedule is well under way, and anglers are taking full advantage. Pond fishing is great for kids, beginners and experienced anglers. Some ponds are stocked with larger “brood stock” fish in addition to the usual foot-long hatchery planters. Some ponds also have albino rainbow trout, also called “banana trout” or “palomino trout” (not to be confused with the California Golden Trout). Spinners and baits like worms, marshmallows and Power Bait work best. Fly fishing works, too, but it can be difficult in crowded areas. Nobody ever accused pond fishing of being hardcore, so be courteous to your fellow anglers and enjoy a day on the water.
Getting there: Ponds are available from Boise to Middleton and everywhere in between. Check this story at IdahoStatesman.com for Fish and Game’s map of family fishing waters.
Boise River (Trout) and Snake River (Bass)
We’re lucky to live so close to these two productive fisheries. Rainbow trout fishing has been rock-solid on the Boise, with anglers catching fish on flies, lures and bait. Fish and Game stocking points near bridges on the Greenbelt are popular, but do some exploring to find pockets of bigger, native rainbows and browns. Bass fishing is definitely starting to slow down, but my buddy and I still cracked double figures on a quick morning trip to the Snake last weekend. Pack soft plastics, jigs and a dozen worms. Catfish are still biting, too, especially around Steck Park.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge on the Boise River. Fishing on the Snake River is good between C.J. Strike and Brownlee reservoirs.