Crane Falls Lake (Mixed Bag)
Late-summer fishing is hot at Crane Falls, with good catch rates for a variety of species. On a recent trip, my buddy Caleb and I boated more than 20 largemouth bass on top-water plugs, plastic worms and jigs. The top-water strike was dynamite in the early morning. Top-water action should be good around dusk as well, with plastics, jigs and crankbaits carrying the daylight hours.
Crane Falls has a nice rainbow trout population and great panfish variety — crappie, perch, bluegill and pumpkinseed are on the menu. We caught a few panfish on bass gear, but to target them, locate schools holding in deeper water and throw crappie jigs tipped with small pieces of worm.
For trout, spinners, flies, worms and Power Bait are good options. Big leech and streamer patterns should work well on a fly rod, and I’ve also picked up some big rainbows on spinnerbaits. Shore access is limited, so a boat (electric motors only) or float tube comes in handy. Remember to observe the trophy regulations on bass (two fish, none under 20 inches).
Getting there: Head east toward Mountain Home, take Exit 90 and follow Highway 51 south. After crossing the Snake River, take a right on Crane Falls Road and follow it to the lake.
South Fork Boise River (Trout)
Flows are friendly and fishing is solid on the South Fork. Hoppers are the way to go early in the day, with stonefly, caddis and Pink Albert patterns picking up in the afternoons and evenings. Dropping small nymphs off the back of dry flies can pick up a few fish.
There are Kokanee salmon spawning in the river right now, so egg patterns might attract bites from hungry rainbow and bull trout. If you want to catch a kokanee, try fishing brightly colored streamers or a San Juan worm. Spin anglers can pick up fish on spinners, spoons and crankbaits — just be sure to modify your lures. The South Fork is limited to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks. There’s also a two-trout limit — none less than 20 inches.
Getting there: Fish between Arrowrock Reservoir and Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
Stanley-area Lakes (Trout)
I’ve been hearing some good reports from the lakes and streams in Stanley area, including Redfish Lake and Stanley Lake.
Rainbow trout, bull trout, cutthroat trout and Kokanee salmon are a few of the species you might find in the lakes and tributaries. There is a ton of water to fish — just make sure you know the rules before you start casting. Redfish Lake, for example, is catch-and-release for Kokanee this time of year. Flies and traditional lures will catch fish. Hopper patterns, streamers, nymphs, spinners, Rapalas, spoons, worms, salmon eggs and live grasshoppers are good lures and baits to try. Posting up for the weekend at one of the areas many campgrounds is a good way to maximize your fishing time and explore new water.
Getting there: Take Highway 21 northeast to Stanley. Taking Highway 55 to Banks and then shooting over can save a few minutes when traffic is light.
Lake Cascade (Mixed Bag)
It’s a beautiful time of year to fish Lake Cascade. The water level is dropping, but the boat launches are available. The trolling crowd has been picking up some nice rainbow trout on pop gear, including hoochies, wedding rings and flashers tipped with worms or corn. Slow-trolling Rapalas will pick up fish.
Small crankbaits, panfish jigs tipped with bait or a straight night crawler will catch perch. I’d start looking in 15-20 feet of water off rocky points or weed beds.
Cascade has a solid smallmouth bass population, and September is a great month to fish for them. Jigs, crankbaits, soft plastics and spinnerbaits should work well around rocky shorelines, and top-water plugs could draw some explosive strikes early or late in the day.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Come fishing with me!
I’m teaching a fishing class this fall through The College of Idaho’s Community Learning program in Caldwell. Join me Oct. 3-7 for “Stop Fishing, Start Catching,” a fun and informative class for anglers of all ages and ability levels. The course costs $59, which includes four hours of classroom instruction and activities (6-8 p.m. Oct. 3 and 5 in the C of I’s Marty Holly Athletics Center) and a four-hour Saturday morning fishing trip (8 a.m.-noon Oct. 7). Every participant receives a tackle goodie bag, plus chances to win awesome prizes. This class sold out in the spring, so reserve your spot early. Register online at www.cofifun.com. For more info, call (208) 459-5188 or email email@example.com.