Lake Lowell (bass)
After a slow start to the season, I’m seeing some nice fish getting caught at Lake Lowell. It’s one of the shallowest and warmest bass lakes around, so it’s no surprise to see things pick up after a couple weeks of nicer weather. Most anglers I talk to are focusing on the flooded trees near shore, pitching soft plastics and jigs into the heavy cover or probing the edges with spinnerbaits. Boating is the best way to cover water, but there is ample shore access, especially if you are willing to wade in from the south bank. Bass are catch-and-release only until July 1 and boat launches close at dusk. In addition to bass, Lowell is a good spot to catch channel catfish and occasional panfish. The lake also has a bit of a carp problem, and the fish are in the shallows spawning right now if you enjoy archery fishing.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
Mountain Home Reservoir (trout)
I’ve never featured Mountain Home Reservoir before — it is often too low and dry to be a productive fishery. But I have seen a handful of encouraging reports from anglers catching big rainbow trout, and the lake is also known to hold largemouth bass and bluegill. A quick check of the Idaho Fish & Game website reveals two trout stockings already this spring — before 2018, the lake had only been stocked three times since 2012. I’m guessing (and hoping) this will become a trend as back-to-back good-water years breathe new life into low-water reservoirs around southern Idaho. If you want to check it out, spinners, worms and Power Bait are the best tackle options for targeting trout. I haven’t heard much on the bass front, but it wouldn’t hurt to pack some plastic worms and spinnerbaits just in case.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home. Follow Highway 20 northeast and the reservoir is on your left just as you leave town.
Brownlee Reservoir (crappie)
The crappie fishing has been hot at Brownlee, with anglers filling stringers with nice 12-inch keepers. Small panfish jigs in bright orange, pink, chartreuse or red usually do the trick. Some anglers have success casting or slow-trolling with small crankbaits. Catfish have been on the bite, with anglers taking nice channel cats and flatheads with worms, cut bait, chicken livers, homemade dough baits and deep-diving crankbaits. I haven’t seen a ton of bass getting caught yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Launching a boat has been tricky this spring, but that’s about to change. Most of the popular boat ramps are back in the water as the lake refills. The water is rising a foot or two per day, and it is expected to be full by Memorial Day.
Getting there: Head west to fish Brownlee along the Idaho-Oregon border. You can access the lake via Steck Park near Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.
Lucky Peak Reservoir (Kokanee)
After a few quiet months, I’m seeing stringers of nice Kokanee coming out of Lucky Peak. May and June are usually the most productive months to troll for the silver delicacies using flashers and other pop gear trailed by small spoons, squid jigs and wedding rings tipped with salmon eggs or shoepeg corn. Fish are running shallow right now (generally in the top 25 feet of water), but they will head deeper as the weather warms. Rainbow trout will bite trolling rigs or take bait from shore. Nearby Arrowrock is another (often less crowded) Kokanee fishery, and if you’re willing to drive a bit farther, fishing has been good at Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
Getting there: Take Highway 21 northeast from Boise to the Lucky Peak boat launches.