Every Tuesday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column will appear three Wednesdays per month.
Owyhee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
Spring fishing has been outstanding at Owyhee Reservoir, which is located in eastern Oregon. It’s about a two-hour drive, but it has been worth it for anglers seeking bass, catfish and crappie. Channel cats are biting on worms or fresh cut bait. Bass will take soft plastics, jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jerk baits. Crappie are biting on panfish jigs in colors like red, yellow, orange and white. The crappie at Owyhee seem to be a little bigger than the fish coming out of Brownlee and C.J. Strike this year, and I’ve seen some really nice stringers of big channel catfish, too. Bass fishing is steady, and we’re on the precipice of hitting prime time. If you go, be sure to buy an Oregon license. A one-day tag costs $19, or you can make a weekend of it with a three-day tag for $50.
Getting there: Owyhee Reservoir is 52 miles long, with lots of access points. To reach Lake Owyhee State Park, Head west on I-84, U.S. 20/26 and U.S. 95.
Local Ponds (Bass)
Bass have emerged from their wintertime slumber in Treasure Valley ponds. The big, pre-spawn adults are on the hunt for an easy meal, and naïve juvenile bass will aggressively attack all kinds of lures and bait. To catch bigger fish, try throwing weedless jigs and soft plastics into heavy cover, or cast crankbaits or spinner baits parallel to the shoreline. Big bass are wary and aren’t likely to bite if they can see you. Stocked trout, bluegill, crappie and catfish inhabit many ponds, too, so flies, small jigs and live worms are always handy to have along. Some ponds — especially those located in subdivisions or on golf courses — are for residents only, or closed to fishing entirely, so be sure to know the rules wherever you go. Let’s all be courteous and sportsmanlike in our fishing pursuits!
Getting there: Idaho Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout the Treasure Valley, from Boise to Middleton and just about everywhere in between.
Snake River (Mixed Bag)
Wind has muddied the waters at times on the Snake, but on warm, calm days, the fishing has been good for smallmouth bass and channel cats. The stretch between Swan Falls Dam and Brownlee Reservoir is the most popular stretch, but anglers also catch fish out through Bruneau and Hagerman. This time of year, smallmouth bass will be patrolling rocky or weedy shorelines, where they can be close to cover while feeding on smaller fish, insects and crayfish. Soft plastic grubs, worms, crayfish and tubes are popular choices, and smallies will whack a properly presented jig, jerk bait or crankbait, too. Catfish are hanging out in deep eddies, pools and channels. When the water warms up later in the year, stink baits and chicken livers will be popular choices, but worms and fresh cut bait are the best options in the spring. Sturgeon anglers are having some luck with cut bait in deep water, and carp anglers — including bow fishermen — are having some pre-spawn success, too.
Getting there: The Snake has plenty of boat and bank access between C.J. Strike Reservoir and Brownlee.
Salmon and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
Anglers are continuing to enjoy a solid spring steelhead run. The best fishing of late has been on the Little Salmon River. Catch rates on the main Salmon and the Clearwater have been steady, too. Fish with roe, streamers, plugs or brightly colored jigs and yarn. We’re in the final month of the spring season, so get them while you can!
Getting there: Check the Idaho Fish & Game website for an updated list of steelhead seasons, rules and locations. The latest catch rates are posted every week, too.