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.
Payette River (Trout)
The Payette River is an often-overlooked fishery that can be highly productive for both trout and bass, depending on which part of the river you fish. The stretch that follows Highway 55 north toward McCall has lots of good shore access — simply drive along the road, find a safe parking spot and scramble down the hill to the river. Spinners, spoons, flies and bait will all catch rainbow trout and the occasional pikeminnow. If you are heading more off the beaten path, keep an eye out for black bears. As the Payette meanders west toward Emmett and New Plymouth, it becomes more of a smallmouth bass fishery. Tube jigs, grubs, crankbaits, crayfish imitations, leech patterns and live worms are the ticket. If you catch a pikeminnow, try using it as cut bait. There are some big channel catfish in the Payette, and fresh cut bait drifted into a deep riffle will often entice a strike.
Getting there: Fish between Horseshoe Bend and Cascade if you are targeting trout. There are lots of places to stop and hike down to the water along Highway 55. Fish farther west toward Emmett and New Plymouth if you are targeting bass.
Lake Lowell (Bass)
Water levels are dropping at Lowell, but anglers are still catching plenty of fish. The largemouth bite is best around the remaining aquatic cover, where fish are hitting on plastic worms, jigs, swimbaits and spinnerbaits. For smallmouth, fish with crankbaits or tube jigs near the dams and other rocky shorelines. The evening top-water bass bite can be explosive, especially on calm evenings. Try frogs, poppers, plugs or buzz baits. Lowell is also fishing well for catfish, which eagerly snatch up worms and flavored stink baits fished near the bottom. As the water drops, be careful maneuvering your boat. And when the shoreline cover is high and dry, the deep equalizer channel is a good place to drop-shot for bass.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
Boise River (Trout)
Late summer fishing continues to be good on the Boise River. The float crowds are still out on weekends and hot afternoons, but fly and spin fishermen alike can find seclusion above Barber Park or below the Americana Bridge. Rainbow trout are the most common catch, but there are browns in there, too, particularly in the stretches near Eagle and Star. For fly anglers, some of the top choices have been Elk Hair Caddis, Pink Alberts, pheasant tail and prince nymphs, and sculpin streamers. Small spinners such as Panther Martins and Rooster Tails, spoons, Rapalas, worms, marshmallows and Power Bait also will catch fish. The Boise is the perfect place to wade in and escape the heat for a quick, in-town getaway.
Getting there: Trout are regularly stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.
Lucky Peak/Arrowrock Reservoirs (Trout, Kokanee)
The water levels are dropping quickly, but anglers are still managing some nice trout and kokanee by trolling spinners and pop gear tipped with corn, or by bait fishing from the bank. From what I’ve seen, catch rates are down, but there are some bigger fish being caught. That’s likely to remain the case as the kokanee begin staging for their bright-red fall spawning run. Kokanee are awesome to watch — but super-tough to catch — once they turn red, which will unfold over the next few weeks. If water levels drop too much, or if fishing slows down on the reservoirs, try drifting a fly, spinner or worm through the pools and riffles of nearby Mores Creek and Grimes Creek. Trout, smallmouth bass, whitefish, chubs and spawning kokanee are all possible catches, and small stream fishing is a fun change of pace, especially so close to town.
Getting there: From Boise, take Warm Springs Avenue or Idaho 21 northeast to Lucky Peak. Continue past Lucky Peak to get to Arrowrock.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.