Every week, we post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
The fishing report will be posted on Mondays beginning Sept. 26.
Owyhee River (Trout)
Brown trout action is picking up on the Owyhee. Soon, the fish will be ready to spawn, which means the big fish are starting to congregate in the most favorable stretches of habitat. Most reports I’m hearing favor small midges (size 20-24), especially late in the evening. Chironomids and nymphs are the way to go during the day, and a few fish will rise and take a black caddis, too. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can always tie on a big streamer, sculpin or mouse pattern. Those typically don’t produce as many fish, but it’s a great way to target the big ones. For spin anglers, minnow-imitating lures like Rapalas, large spoons and spinners also will do the trick. De-barbing your hooks is recommended, since all brown trout are catch-and-release on the Owyhee. The fall weather is beautiful right now, so take the opportunity to make a day trip across the border and do some fishing! Don’t forget your Oregon license.
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Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Lake Cascade (Trout, Perch)
The weather is outstanding and the early fall fishing is heating up at Lake Cascade. The perch bite is on, and there are some big ones. Jigging and/or bait fishing near the bottom have been productive methods, and some anglers are picking up jumbo-sized perch on small crankbaits. Tom at Tackle Tom’s has already weighed a handful of 14-to-16-inch fish over two pounds — the class of perch that could threaten the state record and perhaps break the elusive three-pound mark during the winter spawning season. Smallmouth bass anglers are also picking up good numbers of fish on crankbaits, soft plastics, jigs and bait. The trout bite has been a little bit hit or miss, but the fish are quality when they do bite. Trolling with Rapalas and other minnow-imitating lures has been outperforming traditional pop gear. Bank fishermen are picking up a few fish using worms, marshmallows and Power Bait. The trout bite should improve in the weeks ahead as the weather cools and more fish move into the shallows. The lake is down about 13 feet. Blue Heron is the best boat ramp, and smaller craft can still launch from Poison Creek and the city ramp.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Snake River (Bass, Catfish)
Anglers continue to have success catching both bass and catfish in the Snake River. It’s one of the safest bets in the Valley for hooking at least a few fish, and when it’s hot, you can really rack up numbers. For bass, fish anywhere where current meets structure (boulders, drop-off banks, rocky points and other shoreline cover). Jigs, crankbaits, jerk baits and top-water plugs are go-to lures. Floating vegetation — which should recede as the weather cools — can still be a problem. To combat the moss, fish weedless or single-hook presentations like tubes and grubs rather than treble-hooked retrieve lures. Drift fishing a fly, soft plastic bait or live worm is the easiest way to fish if the weeds are thick. For catfish, tie on a large circle hook baited with worms, dead minnows, cut bait, stink bait, shrimp, garlic marshmallows or chicken livers. Deep pockets of current and big eddies are the best places to target. Catfish often are more active at night, but they will snatch a well-presented bait pretty much any time of day. I’ve had a lot of success fishing the Snake between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park this time of year.
Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.
Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers (Chinook salmon, steelhead)
As of last week, fall steelhead counts are down about 40 percent from last year at both Bonneville Dam and Lower Granite Dam. It’s been slow going so far, but there are more fish coming every day, and anglers have already landed steelhead as far east as Riggins. Plugs, crankbaits, roe and brightly colored jigs, streamers and yarn are the most popular lures and baits. Fall Chinook fishing also is available on the Snake, Clearwater and a short section of the Lower Salmon River. Roe balls, tuna balls, flashy spoons, streamers and other steelhead-like presentations will catch fish. A steelhead/salmon permit and barbless hooks are required to fish for both species. Stick with it, and be sure to monitor fish counts and harvest reports. Fishing should improve as we turn the calendar to October.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of salmon and steelhead fish counts, season information, rules and the latest harvest reports.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.