Most fishing trips have a specific desired outcome.
When I hit the Snake River, I’m looking to put 20-plus bass in the boat.
If I’m targeting Chinook or steelhead, landing one or two keepers makes the trip a success.
And then there are days where anything goes. You just pick a spot, load up some gear and venture off to see what the fishing gods have in store.
I recently enjoyed such a day in Hagerman, which is a great place for a fishing variety hour. My first stop was a small, spring-fed creek known to harbor rainbow trout — a perfect spot to break in my new ultralight rod. I tied on a Panther Martin and was on the board within five casts. I caught a dozen rainbows over the next hour, but none of them were longer than a foot. It was time to move on.
Next, I hit the Snake River. The water was high, murky and full of dead wood, so rather than risking my good tackle, I tossed in a night crawler.
Once again, the action came fast and furious. My first cast produced a green sunfish — a relatively rare catch in Idaho. This little guy fit in the palm of my hand, but his vibrant colors made up for his lack of size. Back in the water he went.
The river continued to produce. Next came a largemouth bass. Then a feisty smallmouth. Then a big tilapia, which show up now and again on the Snake. Tilapia are great eating, so I put him on a stringer.
With one fish in the cooler, I wanted a few more keepers for my haul. I don’t like to keep bass, especially in the spring before they spawn, so I moved on to another spot where I’d caught big trout in the past.
High, muddy water persisted. Taking advantage of my two-pole permit, I set up one rod with bait and tossed crankbaits and spinners on a second outfit. The trout weren’t chasing my lures through the murk, but the bait rod came through with a bite. Fish on!
After a scrappy fight, I landed a respectable palomino trout — a fancy name for an albino, yellow-skinned rainbow. At 15 inches, it was a perfect eating size. It also marked the sixth different type of fish I’d caught, which ties my personal best in fresh water.
It was nearly time to head home, but I wanted a shot at one last fish. I left my bait rod set up while I put my gear away. Sure enough, the line started to move. The rod doubled over as I set the hook — this was going to be the fish of the day!
For a while, I thought a big catfish or carp might become No. 7 on my checklist. But after a long battle, I brought a huge rainbow trout to the net. The 20-inch beauty put an exclamation point on a great day — steady action in Hagerman, and the best kind of six-pack an angler could ask for.
Spring is here, fellow anglers. It’s time to get out there and see what 2018 has in store for us.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors@idahostatesman.