September is magical moment for fishing in Idaho

Fall is a terrific time for fishing in Idaho.
Fall is a terrific time for fishing in Idaho. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Last year, I wrote about the “witching hour,” the magical evening moment when fish seem to jump straight into the boat.

Well, my friends, if we look at the entire fishing season as one day, we are entering the “witching hour” of 2016.

Sure, we still have steelhead, ice fishing and other cold-weather angling opportunities in the months ahead, but late September stands out as the magical final moment of summer, with the full buffet of fishing options still on the menu.

One of the most common questions I get is, “What’s biting right now?” And in late September, the answer is beautifully simple: “Everything!”

I’ve made five fishing trips this month, each time with outstanding results.

First, I hit the Snake River, where I tangled with nice smallmouth bass and a monster 31-inch channel catfish.

Next, I went to Mores Creek and landed some big, red-phase kokanee salmon, including one that topped 20 inches.

For my third time, my buddy Caleb and I made a morning trip to Crane Falls Lake in Bruneau. It was cloudy, rainy and chilly, but the largemouth bass were undeterred, and we put more than 40 in the boat.

Next, I made a quick evening trip to the Boise River, where I picked up a brown trout, a couple of nice rainbows and, oddly, some small largemouth bass (likely escapees from a nearby pond).

And, most recently, I hit the Payette River near New Plymouth, where I landed my biggest smallmouth of the season — and I hear the trout are biting on the upper Payette, too.

This month, I’ve caught fish on spinners, spoons, tube jigs, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and a live worm. Caleb did most of his damage on top-water plugs, and I also saw some fly-fishermen out and about. No matter where you go, what species you target or what style of tackle you prefer, you’re almost guaranteed to catch something right now.

It’s finding the time that can be challenging this time of year. School is back in session, football season has kicked off, yards still need mowing and daylight hours are rapidly waning.

So here is your challenge for this week: Circle a day on the calendar and GO FISHING! The lawn will survive an extra day. Those work emails can wait until the next morning. And the football game? DVR!

Remember the Idaho Outdoors Species Challenge to catch 25 different fish this year? September might be the only month where anglers have a legitimate shot at every species on the list. Chinook salmon and steelhead are entering Idaho rivers, trout are loving the cooling temperatures, and bass, panfish and other warm-water species are busy piling on calories for the lean months ahead.

So get out there and enjoy the bounty while it lasts. When winter rolls around and you’re stuck inside watching football on the couch, you’ll be glad you did.

Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at