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Fishing report: Snake River bass are stirring

The Snake River is running high — so be safe and cautious — but the early season bite is picking up for chunky, aggressive smallmouth bass like this one.
The Snake River is running high — so be safe and cautious — but the early season bite is picking up for chunky, aggressive smallmouth bass like this one. Jordan Rodriguez

Before I get to this week’s report, I want to let readers know about my new website, www.tightlines208.com. It recently went live and I will be using it to offer fishing classes and lessons as well as links to my Statesman articles and other goodies. Thank you all for reading, and I hope to see you at an upcoming class!

Snake River (Bass, Catfish)

The Snake is running high and is still pretty cold from all the snow runoff, but that isn’t stopping the bass from biting. On a recent evening trip, my friend Adam and I put 17 smallmouths in the boat using crankbaits, swimbaits and jigs. I even had a GIANT 20-pound carp slurp up a soft plastic crayfish. Go figure!

We targeted fish in shallow water, which is warmer, but there are still fish holding offshore in deeper water, too. As usual, baits that resemble a crayfish or minnow are good bets to get eaten by a hungry bass.

Catfish are always an option on the Snake River as well. Target them using cut bait, worms or deep-diving crankbaits in deeper pools and eddies.

Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.

Owyhee Reservoir (Crappie, Bass)

Crappie are starting to wake up around our region, including in Owyhee Reservoir just across the Oregon border. Look for schools of fish in 20 to 40 feet of water and target them using small panfish jigs. Once you catch a couple, anchor up — crappie are usually found in huge schools, and it’s not uncommon to catch 40 or more fish in a day.

The Owyhee is also one of the best lakes around for chasing big bass. They tend to stick close to submerged vegetation this time of year. Horsing them out of the trees with jigs and finesse plastics is a good tactic, and they will often come out to swipe crankbaits or spinnerbaits, too.

Trout and catfish are also abundant in the lake, so don’t be surprised if you find some variety.

Getting there: Head west across the Oregon border to Adrian (be sure to grab an Oregon license) and follow the Owyhee River upstream past the dam.

Arrowrock Reservoir (Kokanee, Trout)

Trolling for Kokanee tends to be a good early season option, and Arrowrock offers a solid nearby destination. Fish are often closer to the surface than they will be later in the summer — 10 feet is a good depth to start with. Trolling with spinners, spoons, squid jigs and other lures trailed behind pop gear is the standard, and many anglers like to tip their hooks with corn or a salmon egg.

Rainbow trout and occasional landlocked chinook might also pounce on a trolling rig. If the fish aren’t cooperating, try fishing the rocky shorelines for bass. Jigs or a slowly retrieved crankbait will likely get some attention.

Getting there: Take Highway 21 past Lucky Peak State Park, turn right after crossing the Mores Creek Bridge and follow the road all the way in to Arrowrock Reservoir.

Local Ponds (Trout, Bass)

I’ve seen some anglers outfish the masses by sticking to local waters on foot. It’s not a bad strategy—ponds are loaded with stocked trout this time of year, and many also hold healthy populations of bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. There are tons of ponds to choose from, and many can be found within 15 minutes of your driveway. Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at tightlinesboise@gmail.com.

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