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Fishing is hitting its summer stride across southern Idaho

Boise River holds healthy trout population

Idaho Fish and Game surveys show a healthy trout population in the Boise River segment that runs through the capital city.
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Idaho Fish and Game surveys show a healthy trout population in the Boise River segment that runs through the capital city.

Fishing is hitting its summer stride across southern Idaho. There are great options available for a variety of species. Here are a few places to try:

Swan Falls Reservoir (bass)

The bass bite is on at Swan Falls Reservoir on the Snake River south of Kuna. On a recent morning trip, a friend and I landed 15 feisty smallmouth. The water is high, but we found fish holding in coves and eddies along rocky outcroppings. We caught bass on a variety of baits, including tube jigs, crankbaits and plastic worms. Above the dam, Swan Falls is ideally fished from a boat. Anglers occasionally run into panfish and carp, but bass are the dominant species. The river is accessible below the dam, where anglers can tangle with sturgeon, catfish and more bass. Cutbait, chicken livers and worms are good for targeting bottom-feeding catfish and sturgeon. Boat launches are available on both sides of the dam, but the downstream side has better bank access.

Getting there: Drive into Kuna, turn south on Swan Falls Road and follow it 22 miles to the dam.

Ocamica of New Plymouth shares his favorite lake and offers a tip on strategy.

South Fork Boise River (trout)

One of our region’s most popular trout streams reopened over Memorial Day weekend, and the flows have since dropped to a fishable 2,200 cfs. The big rainbows that call the South Fork home are coming up to slurp caddis imitations and yellow sally stoneflies. Swinging bigger patterns like leeches, sculpins and cicadas is a good way to target trophy-sized fish. Spin anglers can fish the South Fork using modified tackle — spinners, spoons and Rapalas with a single, barbless hook is allowed. Rainbow trout are the dominant species, but whitefish, bull trout and Kokanee salmon show up.

Getting there: Fish along the national forest wilderness between Anderson Ranch Dam and Neal Bridge.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir (mixed bag)

If you’re looking for a cool weekend trip, you might try heading east to Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir near Jackpot, Nevada. It’s a big, multispecies reservoir that offers trolling for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and perch as well as the unique opportunity to tangle with toothy walleye. Trout will hit on the usual assortment of spinners and pop gear. For bass, throw jigs and plastics into rocky or weedy cover. Walleye usually hold near rocky ledges and drop-offs — they will chase Rapalas or slowly trolled bottom bouncers trailed by wedding rings and a nightcrawler. Having a boat helps because there is a lot of water to cover and trolling is often the most effective method.

Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Twin Falls and follow U.S. 93 south toward the Nevada border. From Boise, it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive.

The "rooster tail" water release from Lucky Peak Dam on April 23rd, 2017 attracted thousands who came to see water shoot 150 feet into the air out of the dam's outlet side gates.

Lucky Peak Reservoir (kokanee, trout)

Trolling has been decent at Lucky Peak. Its proximity to Boise makes it a popular spot for a quick trip, and anglers have been picking up nice Kokanee and pan-sized trout by trolling flashers trailed by wedding rings, spinners and squid jigs. Most anglers tip their lures with corn or a salmon egg. Fish can be found anywhere from 15 feet to 40 feet deep. Kokanee will head deeper as the water warms, while trout tend to hang out on the shallower end of the spectrum. If trolling doesn’t pan out, bait fishing from the bank usually produces some trout, and Lucky Peak also has an underrated population of smallmouth bass that will take jigs, crankbaits and top-water plugs.

Getting there: Take Highway 21 northeast from Boise. There are multiple access points with boat launches.