Every Monday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Salmon, Boise rivers (Steelhead)
Steelhead fishing on the upper Salmon River improved last week, according to Idaho Fish and Game harvest reports. Catch rates averaged from 10 to 26 hours per fish caught in the stretches upstream of the Middle Fork Salmon, upstream of the North Fork Salmon and upstream of the Lemhi River. I’ve also seen a few more fish coming out of Riggins in recent weeks. In addition, Fish and Game released a batch of hatchery steelhead into the Boise River last Thursday. Those fish get hit pretty hard for the first few days, but a handful survive and disperse throughout the river. Bobber-and-jig fishing seems to be the most popular method on the Boise, although plugs, streamers, roe and all the usual setups also will catch fish. Big browns and rainbows often take steelhead gear as well. Remember, you do need a permit to fish for steelhead in town. However, barbless hooks are not required on the Boise.
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.
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Brownlee Reservoir (Crappie)
The crappie are still biting at Brownlee, and there are some absolutely enormous schools of fish. The fish themselves aren’t whoppers, but there are plenty of nice 10-inch keepers, which are perfect for a fish fry. On a recent trip, we marked fish from 10 feet deep all the way down to 60 feet. Panfish jigs are the best lures, and I prefer using two at a time. It helps the lures sink faster on windy days, and it also gives you a shot at landing “twins” — two fish on one cast! Small crankbaits and other downsized bass tackle also will work for crappie. Speaking of bass, you might still pick up a few smallmouths by slow-fishing jigs and soft plastics around rocky points. And Brownlee is absolutely loaded with channel and flathead catfish. Cut bait, shrimp, night crawlers or crankbaits will do the trick.
Getting there: Take I-84 west and access the lake through Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.
Owyhee River (Trout)
Fishing can be hit or miss this time of year, but you can’t beat the Owyhee for big brown trout. The water is low and the fish are spawning, so a stealthy approach will serve you best. Be careful not to step on the fish’s spawning redds if you are wading. Tricos, BWOs, midges and callibaetis are some good dry fly presentations to try. Streamer and mouse patterns stripped through deeper water are also good bets for aggressive browns. If fly fishing isn’t your thing, browns will happily attack minnow-imitating lures such as spinners, spoons and Rapalas. Barbless hooks are recommended, as all brown trout are catch-and-release on the Owyhee. Rainbows are also a possibility, and there tend to be some nice fat ones. The fall weather is holding up nicely, knock on wood, so get an Oregon day license and make a trip!
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)
I hope anglers are taking advantage of the glorious fall weekends we’ve been having. If schedules don’t allow you to take a full-day trip, local ponds are a great way to catch some fish and still be home in time for dinner. Fish and Game maintains a routine stocking schedule throughout November, and trout fishing can be fantastic in our local ponds. Spinners, Rapalas, flies and bait will catch fish — hatchery trout seem to have a real weakness for Power Bait nuggets, in particular. Boise even has a brand new pond to enjoy at Esther Simplot Park, which has been stocked with more than 1,000 fish already. Many ponds also have bluegill and bass. Bluegill might nip at a live worm, and bass might come out and take a slow-fished soft plastic or crankbait, especially on warm afternoons. Colder weather is sure to show up at some point, so get out and put some trout fillets in the freezer while you can!
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Middleton and Caldwell.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.