Owyhee River (trout)
Fly fishing still works in the snow. Trout stay fairly active year-round, and one of my most reliable fishing sources recently reported an outstanding afternoon of fishing on the Owyhee. Pack a variety of streamers, dry flies and nymphs and see what catches the attention of the river’s infamous, bruising browns and rainbows. Spinners and other trout lures will catch fish, too. Remember: You need an Oregon fishing license to fish the Owyhee.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Boise River (trout, steelhead)
With some holiday time off coming up, I’m planning to hit the Boise River a few times. It’s quick, convenient and reliably productive, even during the winter months. And, unlike many rivers and streams around the state, the Boise stays relatively clear of the ice and floating slush that can put an unwelcome freeze on your fishing trip. Flies, spinners and bait will catch fish. Look for the deep pools and riffles. Anglers have been catching fish from Barber Park all the way down through Eagle and Star. There should be a few holdover steelhead through town, too.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.
Lake Cascade (perch, trout)
Ice fishing is still pretty touch and go, with the lake featuring a variety of open water, slush, snow and ice on top. A few anglers have found fishable ice on the north end of the lake around Poison Creek, but there hasn’t yet been enough freeze-over — or enough fishermen — to get an accurate read on how good the trout and perch fishing is. Stay tuned to Tackle Tom’s Facebook page or call ahead for the latest updates and ice reports. It’s better to know before you go.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade and follow the turnoff signs to sportsman access areas.
Snake, Salmon and Clearwater Rivers (steelhead)
We are down to the final week of fall steelhead season, which closes Dec. 31. It’s pretty cold in most of the places you can fish for steelhead, but on the flip side, you won’t be dealing with October-level crowds, either. Catch rates have stayed pretty steady throughout December, with anglers averaging less than 10 hours per fish caught — a respectable rate for these elusive, anadromous giants. Take your usual assortment of colorful jigs, plugs, bobber rigs, salmon roe and yarn. Fresh-caught steelhead would make for a fine Christmas feast.
Getting there: Check the Idaho Fish and Game website for a detailed list of steelhead seasons, rules and destinations.