The hot weather continues to hang around, but so does some hot fishing. Here are some late summer destinations to check out:
Lake Lowell (bass, catfish)
It has been a bounce-back season for Lake Lowell. Fishing had been in steady decline for a few years, so it’s encouraging to see anglers posting decent catch rates again. Good water levels are helping — as of this writing, there is still a healthy weed line offshore in most places. Those weeds are a great place to hunt largemouth bass with soft plastic baits, jigs, spinnerbaits and top-water presentations. The bite tends to be best early or late in the day (remember that the boat launches close at sunset). Lowell is home to smallmouth bass, which can be targeted in rocky habitats using crankbaits, jigs, Ned Rigs and other soft plastics. For channel catfish, look for moderately shallow flats and fish with worms, cut bait or shrimp on the bottom. Bait fishing might attract some bluegill or perch.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell. There are three boat ramps on the north shore.
Alpine lakes (trout)
It’s prime season to fish for trout in the mountains. A friend and I recently camped overnight at an alpine lake and had good success catching cutthroats up to 14 inches long. Panther Martins, Rooster Tails and Rapalas were catching fish on spinning rods, and we also got a few fish on small dry flies. We packed in float tubes, which can be a lot of extra effort. But it was definitely worth it — we and another angler in a small raft out-fished the shore crowd by a wide margin. There are dozens of lakes near McCall, Cascade, Lowman, Stanley and other mountainous areas. The key is to get a trip on the calendar soon, because it gets pretty chilly at altitude after Labor Day.
Getting there: There are countless alpine lakes to visit. Make sure you get dialed in on reliable directions and bring a trail map!
Mores Creek (trout, Kokanee)
It’s Kokanee spawning season, and the fish are gathering to make their annual run up Mores Creek and other tributaries of Lucky Peak, Arrowrock and Anderson Ranch reservoirs. Mores is the nearest and most reliable option from Boise, and there’s enough water that the fish should make it a good distance upstream. If you’ve never seen spawning Kokanee, it’s quite a sight. They turn fire engine red, and you can sometimes watch them come through by the hundreds. Be warned that spawning salmon are tough to catch, although they will occasionally strike flashy spoons, streamers or salmon eggs. Don’t overlook trout fishing: Rainbows and other species often follow the salmon run and feed on the eggs.
Getting there: Take Highway 21 northeast past Lucky Peak Reservoir.
C.J. Strike Reservoir (mixed bag)
C.J. Strike has it all — trout, perch, crappie, bluegill, catfish, sturgeon and both bass species. Here are three quick options to try: 1. For bass, focus on weedy areas (largemouth) or rocky points (smallmouth) and fish with jigs, spinnerbaits or soft plastics. Anything that looks like a crayfish usually hammers the smallmouths. 2. For trout, troll spinners and wedding rings tipped with bait, or fish near the dam with worms and marshmallows. 3. For panfish, use a fish finder to locate schools in the narrows and drop small jigs tipped with worms or cut bait. Bring a stringer! Trout and panfish are plentiful and make great eating.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 51 south toward Bruneau and Grandview.