I consider myself a low-tech camper. All I really need is a small pile of sticks and poles.
First, round up some matchsticks, jerky sticks, pretzel sticks, sticks for roasting dinner, and slightly larger sticks for building the campfire.
Then grab some tent poles (with accompanying tent, of course), a flashlight (kind of like a pole?) and, most importantly, the fishing poles. BOOM! We are ready to camp.
Since today’s Playing Outdoors section is all about camping, let’s talk about some of the best places to camp and fish. And, since people usually camp as families or groups, we’ll include destinations with plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy.
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Celebration Park (Canyon County): This is one of my favorite local camp spots. The campground has a good number of established tent sites, a water pump, bathroom, fire rings, grills and garbage cans. The park is in a desert setting along the Snake River, with a dock and boat launch.
If fishing is your thing, try going for a “Celebration Slam” of the four major species in the area: Smallmouth bass and channel catfish in the Snake River and largemouth bass and bluegill at Halverson Lake, which is about a mile-long hike from the trailhead upstream from the campground.
For non-anglers, the hike to Halverson is still beautiful, and there is plenty of hiking, biking and horse trails around the park. There also are cool petroglyphs to search for and decipher, and lots of wildlife to look at, from lizards, snakes and frogs to deer, rabbits and birds of prey.
Hagerman Valley: There are seemingly dozens of places to camp and fish in the Hagerman Valley. The area has established campgrounds for tents, RVs and just about everything in between.
There’s lots to see and do at places like Miracle and BanBury hot springs, which offer swimming pools, hot tubs, canoe and paddleboard rentals for exploring the Snake River and plenty of family fun.
Be sure to bring your fishing pole, too. The Snake River and the Hagerman State and National Fish Hatcheries are loaded with everything from rainbow trout to bass, catfish, sturgeon, bluegill and even a few surprises. Ask the locals where the hot spots are, follow the sportsman’s access signs, or do some personal exploration.
Alpine lakes: When summer hits, nothing beats the heat like a trip to Idaho’s pristine mountains. Options abound near the towns of Cascade, McCall and Stanley, just to name a few.
Alpine camping is usually a little more intense. There are a few established sites you can drive to, but most require a hike, especially if you want to camp near a lake. And the farther you venture into the wilderness, the tougher it will be to find amenities like toilets and drinking water.
There are ways around all of that, of course. If you bring a water filtration system and other survival gear, you can camp pretty much anywhere. There’s also the option of making base camp at one of the established sites and taking day trips in to explore individual lakes.
As far as fishing goes, alpine lakes tend to be highly productive for cutthroat and brook trout. Pack a float tube and some flies, small spinners or live worms, and odds are you’ll catch plenty of fish — and camp food doesn’t get much better than roasting one on the fire.
Happy camping, and tight lines!
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.