What kind of camper are you? They come in many varieties.
There’s the extreme camper, determined to rough it without any modern comforts.
There’s the luxury camper, outfitted with a cozy RV and all the latest outdoorsy gadgets.
There’s the foodie camper, whose Dutch-oven recipes and gourmet meals trump what most of us could cook in a kitchen.
And then there’s me: the fishing camper. I don’t much care if you put me in a tent, a camp trailer or a sleeping bag on the beach. As long as there’s water nearby, I’m good to go.
Even if you aren’t a diehard angler, fishing makes for a fun camping activity. Most campgrounds are within casting distance of a river, lake or stream, and fresh-caught fish makes a great campfire meal.
As you plan your summer campouts, here are a few fishing-friendly destinations to keep in mind.
Lucky Peak Reservoir
Located right in Boise’s backyard, Lucky Peak is an easy getaway that won’t commandeer an entire weekend. There’s an established campground at Mack’s Creek Park, but my favorite camping spots are the little-used shoreline shelters that require a boat to reach. Staying overnight allows you to head out first thing for the morning bite (or some glass-calm water for water sports). And Lucky Peak is underrated as a fishery. In addition to abundant and delicious kokanee salmon, the lake is home to rainbow trout and a sneaky population of smallmouth bass. Trolling works best on the kokanee; trout will gobble trolling rigs or bait; and bass prefer jerk baits, crankbaits or jigs worked around rocky structure.
Sage Hen Reservoir
For those looking to venture a little farther out, Sage Hen is a great mountain retreat in the heart of the forest. It’s about a two-hour scoot from Boise. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, which are caught by trolling wedding rings and Rapalas, casting spinners and flies or plunking worms and Power Bait from shore. There are five established campgrounds around Sage Hen — reserve your spot before you go, because it fills up fast in the summer. The lake isn’t known for producing monster fish, but you can’t beat the coniferous mountain scenery. And if you go between June 15 and Nov. 30, don’t ignore the tributary streams, which are teeming with beautiful redband trout. The streams are closed to fishing the rest of the year.
Massacre Rocks State Park
One of my favorite places in Idaho, Massacre Rocks is a desert campground about 2 ½ hours east of Boise near American Falls. The park sits right on the mighty Snake River, which is home to big smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and sturgeon. The river is slow enough to easily fish from a boat, and the campground provides canoe rentals during the summer months. Tent, RV and cabin camping are available at Massacre Rocks, along with a plethora of outdoor activities — from hiking, mountain biking and basketball to a visitor’s center and unique disc golf course. There is usually tons of wildlife around, too.
Wherever your adventures take you this summer, don’t forget to pack your fishing gear. Happy camping, and tight lines!