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.
Crane Falls Lake (Mixed Bag)
Early-season fishing has been good at Crane Falls. Anglers are catching lots of largemouth bass and rainbow trout, and it’s only a matter of time before panfish start showing up. Crane Falls is a fun place to fish. The lake is small enough to cover in one day, and catch rates tend to be pretty high. On a recent trip, my buddy and I caught two dozen nice, healthy bass in the 12-to-14-inch range. Fish were hitting on soft plastics, spinnerbaits and top-water plugs. We also saw anglers catching nice stringers of trout on flies, spinners, worms and Power Bait. Crane Falls has bluegill, pumpkinseed and a few perch, too. If you go, make sure to heed the special regulations. Electric trolling motors are the only motors allowed, so it’s a great spot for small boats, canoes, float tubes and pontoons (and bank access is limited, so having a watercraft helps). And it’s a trophy bass lake, so the limit is two largemouth, none under 20 inches. General rules apply on trout and panfish.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Exit 90, then follow Highway 51 south. Turn right onto Crane Falls Road and follow the signs down to the lake.
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Lake Cascade (Mixed Bag)
Open-water fishing is heating up at Cascade. Lots of nice fish were measured and weighed during the recent Howdy’s Fishing Derby on May 1, with the winning trout weighing in just shy of 5 pounds and the winning stringer of three perch achieving a similar weight. I also got a first-hand report of some good smallmouth bass action, and one young angler recently posted a near-record sized largescale sucker on the Tackle Tom’s Facebook page. Both bank anglers and boaters have had success this spring, so take a variety of lures and a dozen worms, and you never know what you might catch. Bring some warm clothes, too — spring weather can be pretty chilly up in Cascade, especially out on the water.
Getting there: Take Highway 55 north to Cascade and follow the signage to popular access points.
Owyhee River (Trout)
I’m hearing mixed reports on the “O,” and it’s definitely slower than it was earlier this spring, but with the flows so high on the Boise River and the Big Wood closed through May 27, it’s pretty much the only option for avid stream anglers. Leeches, streamers, midges, BWOs and PMDs are good flies to have in your tackle box. Spinners and Rapalas also work well on the Owyhee’s legendary big browns and rainbows, though barbless hooks are recommended for easier catch-and-release. Fish feeding patterns change quite a bit depending on the insect hatches and the weather, so don’t be afraid to change things up if the fish are stubborn. Remember your Oregon fishing license if you go.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Brownlee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
Fishing remains steady at Brownlee. The crappie are still biting, the bass bite is starting to turn on, and catfish anglers are catching nice channel cats and flatheads alike. Panfish jigs are far-and-away the most effective lures for crappie. Bass are taking crankbaits, jigs, soft plastics and even some top-water presentations on calm days. Catfish will take worms, cut bait, chicken livers and crankbaits. The Steck Park area has been particularly good for catfish, while panfish are hanging out in about 20 feet of water and bass are patrolling shallower coves, points and rocky shorelines.
Getting there: Take I-84 west and access the lake through Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.