Boise River (Steelhead)
The long-awaited Boise River steelhead run is on! The first load of fish arrived Thursday, and a second batch is possible (though the total number of fish is down from previous years). A few reminders about steelhead fishing in the Boise: Anglers must purchase a steelhead permit ($12.50) and observe harvest limits (two fish per day); however, barbless hooks are not required and any steelhead caught may be kept (since they are all hatchery fish, not natives). Fish with plugs, roe, streamers, jigs and all the go-to gear you’d use in traditional steelhead habitat. And be kind to your fellow anglers! It is guaranteed to be busy out there, so be courteous and patient as you navigate the crowds. If someone near you hooks up, reel in to avoid tangles — you will want them to do the same when your line goes tight! If you go in with the right attitude and expectations, it will make it a better experience for everyone.
Getting there: Steelhead are stocked at Glenwood Bridge, Americana Bridge, below the Broadway Avenue Bridge behind Boise State University, at Parkcenter Bridge and at Barber Park.
Boise River (Trout)
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No, this isn’t a typo. I’m including the Boise River again for folks who aren’t interested in the steelhead madness. The river has been fishing well for trout this fall, and I’ve seen unusually high numbers of large fish, including a ridiculous 19-pound rainbow caught earlier this week by angler Jason Waidelich of Nampa. Talk about the fish of a lifetime! Fish with spinners, Rapalas, worms, Power Bait, streamers and nymphs in the deep holes and pockets where big fish like to hunt. It’s probably best to steer clear of the bridge stocking points through town if you want to focus on catching trout and avoid the steelhead crowds. As always, I recommend releasing big, wild rainbows and browns (but no judgment from me on keeping the 19-pounder. That fish is wall-hanger status for sure!).
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks trout all along the river, from Barber Park through Eagle and Star.
Arrowrock Reservoir (Trout)
If you want to catch a stringer of trout from the bank, Arrowrock has been a solid bet this fall. Anglers are catching lots of pan-sized fish using worms, marshmallows, Power Bait and spinners. A word to the wise — the road in can get treacherous as the weather deteriorates. Take a four-wheel-drive vehicle to avoid getting stuck. If you find access is too sticky even with a truck, Lucky Peak offers similar fishing conditions closer to town (and easier to drive to). In addition to hatchery rainbows, Arrowrock and Lucky Peak might produce the occasional Kokanee, landlocked Chinook, perch, smallmouth bass or bull trout. Dress warmly and increase your odds by taking advantage of your two-pole permit, if you have one.
Getting there: Head East on I-84, take Exit 64 and follow Blacks Creek Road to the dam. You also can take Highway 21 north to Lucky Peak and follow Arrowrock Road to the reservoir.
Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
Steelhead fishing remains fair on many stretches of river. According to the latest harvest reports, catch rates are averaging about 12 hours per fish on the Snake River, eight to 20 hours per fish on the Clearwater and nine to 17 hours per fish on the Salmon. Back-trolling with side planers and plugs, floating a jig-and-bobber rig or drift fishing with streamers, yarn and roe are the most popular methods for enticing a steelhead. Be sure to read up on the modified harvest rules for this fall, and remember to buy a steelhead permit ($12.50) and de-barb your hooks.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of fish counts, seasons and rules, and the latest fishing reports.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.