Every Monday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
LAKE CASCADE (ICE FISHING)
I made my first ice fishing trip of the season Dec. 17, and it was a success. We fished the north end of the lake and caught a half-dozen rainbow trout in the 16-inch range, along with a few keeper perch. The action wasn’t dynamite, but we had about six inches of ice and it was a calm and beautiful day, despite the freezing temperatures. Usually, one lure or color seems to outperform the rest, but there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to our hits. We caught fish on Swedish Pimples tipped with bait, jigging Rapalas, emerald shiners and a straight night crawler. There was one group nearby — they had driven all the way from Wisconsin — and they reported similar results. I’ve seen some nice catches come in from Cascade over the last week, and Horsethief Reservoir and Warm Lake have 7 to 10 inches of ice as well. Go get ’em!
Getting there: Cascade, Horsethief and Warm Lake are located north of Boise up Highway 55. For the latest conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
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MAGIC RESERVOIR (ICE FISHING)
I received my first confirmed report of ice fishing at Magic last week, and the folks at West Magic Lodge figured the first big crowds would start showing up over Christmas weekend. As of early last week, there was just enough ice (three or four inches) to fish close to shore and in the shallow coves. The gentleman I spoke with at the lodge predicted that by this week, lake conditions would firm up for more widespread ice fishing opportunities. Magic is primarily a trout/perch fishery, similar to Lake Cascade. Big trout are a fairly common occurrence, with the average fish weighing 1 ½ to 2 pounds. The perch aren’t as numerous or gigantic as the ones at Cascade, but you can catch a pile of keepers pretty quickly if you find a school. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead to see how conditions and catch rates are progressing.
Getting there: Take I-84 east past Mountain Home. Take Exit 141 and follow U.S. 26 and Idaho 75 northeast to West Magic Resort. Call the West Magic Lodge at (208) 487-2571 for the latest updates.
HENRY’S LAKE (ICE FISHING)
It’s a bit of a trek to get to Henry’s Lake in eastern Idaho, but if you want to catch a huge trout, this lake is your best bet. Henry’s is well known for producing monster fish throughout the year, and in recent weeks, I’ve seen photos of 6-, 7- and 9.5-pound fish caught through the ice! It’s a wonder those footballs even fit through the holes. One of the reasons fish grow so big at Henry’s is the strict regulations in place. It’s a two-fish limit, and there is a limited fishing season. That includes ice fishing, which closes Jan. 1. So if you are going to make a trip, this is the week to do it. Saturday will be the last ice fishing opportunity at Henry’s until next year.
Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Idaho Falls. Henry’s Lake is another 90 minutes north along Highway 20 on the way to West Yellowstone.
LURE OF THE WEEK
Salmo Chubby Darter: Continuing a theme from last week, we have another ice fishing lure with an awesome name. The Salmo Chubby Darter is one of the most popular ice fishing lures on the market. It is essentially a small, lipless crankbait that is an effective vertical jigging lure because of its unpredictable, darting movements. Anglers can achieve different actions by bouncing it right off the bottom, jigging it at various speeds, or shaking the rod vigorously for a side-to-side swimming presentation. The Chubby Darter comes in a variety of colors. For local waters such as Cascade and Magic, the perch pattern is a great bet, as big perch, trout and other game species find it hard to resist small perch fry. The lure is available in four sizes — the smallest, Size 3, is ideal for perch and trout while the largest, a Size 6, is designed for bigger species like pike and Mackinaw trout. The in-between sizes are targeted at walleye, but also will catch trout and larger panfish. Chubby Darters are available in most local tackle shops, and they typically cost $6-$8.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.