Check small streams for big fish this spring (fishing report, March 16)

Small creeks (trout)

Creek fishing has always been one of my favorites. There’s nothing like the thrill of catching a big trout out of a tiny stream. We don’t have a ton of creeks in the Treasure Valley, but there are a few worth checking out.

Indian Creek south of town offers good fishing for rainbow trout, while Mores Creek and Grimes Creek past Lucky Peak are home to trout, Kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass and whitefish.

Small dry flies, nymphs, spinners, spoons and bait will catch fish. Most areas of small streams are too shallow and swift to hold big fish, so concentrate your efforts on deeper water including pools, eddies and cut banks. My most recent creek adventure produced a beautiful 17-inch rainbow.

Getting there: Good streams to try include Indian Creek, which runs through Kuna, Nampa and Caldwell, and Mores Creek or Grimes Creek along Highway 21 between Boise and Idaho City.

C.J. Strike Reservoir (mixed bag)

Spring officially arrives next week, and fishing at C.J. Strike is starting to warm up. Bass anglers are tempting a few fish by jigging deep or fishing slow with crankbaits along the bank.

Perch are biting in deeper water on the usual array of small jigs tipped with worms or cut bait. The crappie bite is starting to pick up, too — the schools are fewer and farther between then perch, but quality fish are available if you can find them. Use tube jigs or small crankbaits to catch crappie. Lastly, trout anglers have been picking up some nice fish on trolling gear or the old, reliable worm-and-marshmallow combo. The ramps are ice-free at this point if you want to launch a boat.

Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 51 south toward Bruneau and Grandview.

South Fork Boise River (trout)

Spring fishing has been steady on the South Fork, but you’re running out of time to try it — the river, currently open for catch-and-release, will be closed to fishing April 1 through Memorial Day weekend.

Nymphing is the most productive method this time of year.

Prince nymphs, hare’s ears, pheasant tails and tiny tailwaters are tried-and-true South Fork patterns. If you catch a hatch on a warm afternoon, small midge and baetis patterns should do the trick.

Big, hungry fish might chase a streamer, spoon, spinner or Rapala. Just make sure to modify all lures down to a single, barbless hook. It’s usually quality over quantity on the South Fork. You probably won’t catch 20 fish in one trip, but you’ll have a great chance to tangle with trout in the 20-inch class.

Getting there: Fish between Arrowrock Reservoir and Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

Arrowrock Reservoir (mixed bag)

If setting up camp and fishing from the bank is your thing, Arrowrock is a good place to be. I’m consistently seeing anglers catch nice stringers of stocked rainbow trout, primarily using worms, marshmallows and Power Bait on a slip-sinker setup.

An occasional perch, Chinook salmon or smallmouth bass might join the party. Boat ramp access is good, and the trolling crowd has been chasing Kokanee salmon, trout and Chinook with moderate success. Arrowrock has been outperforming Lucky Peak in recent weeks, so it’s worth the extra 15-minute drive if you decide to head that direction.

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. The last few miles are unpaved, sometimes bumpy dirt road. Four-wheel drive is recommended.

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