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.
Lake Lowell (Bass)
Friday is the day many bass anglers have been waiting for — the opening of motorized boat season at Lake Lowell! Fishing should be solid thanks to warm weather and good water levels. Anglers have been catching quite a few fish from shore in recent weeks, but a lot of the best spots aren’t accessible without a boat. Throwing soft plastics and jigs into submerged cover is always a good bet early in the year, while crankbaits, spinnerbaits, flukes and other minnow-imitating lures also will catch fish. Boise Bass Busters is putting on a big tournament Saturday, so it might be pretty crowded on opening weekend. But Treasure Valley bass season is officially open for business, and Lowell is a good spot for catfish and panfish, too. Make sure to observe the no-wake zones for nesting waterfowl, and remember that Lowell is catch-and-release on all bass through the end of June.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
Hagerman Hatchery Ponds (Mixed Bag)
Spring fishing continues to boom for rainbow and palomino trout in and around the Hagerman State and National Fish Hatcheries. There are a number of small lakes and ponds to choose from — the Oster Lakes and the main hatchery lake near the fish-viewing pond are popular spots. Worms, marshmallows, Power Bait and spinners are the most common baits and lures, but don’t be afraid to experiment with flies, Rapalas or salmon eggs. Pack some bass tackle, too — I spotted a few largemouth on my trip to Hagerman earlier this year, and I was able to target and catch three nice fish on soft plastics. While you’re in Hagerman, there are some great spots for catching trout, sturgeon, catfish and bass on the Snake River, as well as a variety of small streams, creeks and ponds to explore. Get your gas money’s worth and check out some new water!
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take Exit 147, head south and follow the signs to the hatchery.
Brownlee Reservoir/C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
We’ll double up here with two options — Brownlee to our northwest and C.J. Strike to our southeast. Both reservoirs are hot right now, with anglers catching everything from crappie and perch to bass and catfish. Brownlee is your best bet for crappie and catfish, including big flatheads. The crappie are in the 8-to-10-inch range this year, and they are aggressively hitting on small, colorful jigs. Channel cats and flatheads are biting on cut bait, night crawlers and crankbaits. If you are keeping panfish, try using the leftover parts from your fillets to lure a big cat. C.J. Strike also offers catfish and crappie fishing, but anglers there are catching a lot more perch and stocked rainbow trout. Jigs tipped with worm or cut bait work for perch, while trout will take worms, marshmallows, spinners or trolling rigs. Bass — smallmouth, in particular — are biting in both reservoirs. April is a great month to catch big, pre-spawn fish on jigs, soft plastics, crankbaits and jerk baits. There are plenty of options for boaters as well as bank anglers. Steck Park at Brownlee and Cottonwood Campground at C.J. Strike are two popular access points.
Getting there: To get to Brownlee, drive west and access the lake through Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side. To get to C.J. Strike, take I-84 east to Mountain Home and head south.
Boise River (Trout)
High flows have slowed the fishing. If you can find a deep, slower-moving hole, you can probably get into some rainbow and brown trout, but it might be best to focus elsewhere until the water comes down. Spinners, flies, worms and salmon eggs are good trout presentations. If you do go, exercise caution and be aware of the construction around Broadway Bridge. Hint: Sometimes during high water, the best fishing is in smaller channels that are too shallow to hold fish when flows are normal.
Getting there: Idaho Fish & Game stocks rainbow trout between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.