Fishing

Bait-dunkers: Warmwater species on the bite. Fly anglers: Popular fishery opens

Hand-sized bluegill like this Halverson Lake specimen are relatively rare and great fun to catch.
Hand-sized bluegill like this Halverson Lake specimen are relatively rare and great fun to catch. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Mother Nature is serving up prime conditions for Memorial Day weekend and beyond. Here are some good fishing spots to take advantage of the warm, sunny days:

Halverson Lake (bluegill)

Halverson is a neat little oasis on the Snake River plains. Getting there requires a short drive down a bumpy dirt road (I wouldn’t attempt it without a truck or jeep) and a milelong hike across the desert, but it’s a fun little place for a day trip. Bluegill and largemouth bass are the only species in the lake. Bluegill fishing can be excellent this time of year — use worms, crickets, small panfish jigs or flies. I made the trek last weekend and focused on bass, but I did catch a few nice bluegill. Other groups targeting them were having luck, too. To target largemouth, throw spinnerbaits, soft plastics or top-water lures, especially early in the morning. One suggestion to keep in mind: bass and bluegill are getting ready to spawn right now, so it’s good practice to release fat, egg-laden females.

Getting there: Drive to Celebration Park south of Melba and follow the dirt road upstream along the Snake River. The lake is a mile hike from the parking area.

Idaho Power released 50,000 rainbow trout into C.J. Strike Reservoir this week to give fishing season a boost. The fish were released at the Cottonwood and Jack's Creek access points.

C.J. Strike Reservoir (bass, crappie, perch)

Fishing has been excellent for several species at C.J. Strike. The beauty of C.J. is the wide range of options available, including hunting bass along rocky or weedy shorelines, chasing schools of panfish in the narrows, trolling for trout near the dam or bait fishing from shore for whatever comes along. It continues to be a good year for crappie, with anglers catching some gorgeous fish up to 15 inches. Small jigs and crankbaits are the ticket. Bass fishing is steady on plastics, jigs and crankbaits, while the sturgeon crowd is catching good numbers, including juveniles that are a great sign for future generations of fish and anglers alike.

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

Silver Creek (trout)

One of Idaho’s most popular fly fisheries opens for business this weekend. It’s been a while since those wily brown and rainbow trout saw a fly, and with flows at about 150 CFS, conditions should be good. Just make sure to get there early if you want to beat the crowds to your favorite spots. Baetis, brown drakes, PMD’s, pheasant tail nymphs and leeches are good flies to carry. Spin anglers can also participate on certain stretches of the creek. Make sure you know where you are fishing and follow the rules, which include single barbless hooks and catch-and-release fishing in many areas.

Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 20 east. Continue 7 miles past the Highway 75 intersection and turn right on Kilpatrick Bridge Road to reach the nature preserve.

Oxbow Reservoir (crappie)

Oxbow is a solid 2.5-hour trek from Boise, but it’s good to shake things up. I’ve been seeing excellent reports, especially from crappie anglers fishing near the dam. Small panfish jigs in red, white, yellow or pink have been catching fish. Bass and catfish are also plentiful in Oxbow—use jigs, crankbaits or soft plastics for the former and Mormon crickets or cut bait to target the latter. Reservoir conditions should be similar to what you’d see at nearby Brownlee.

Getting there: Follow I-84 west, take exit 374 and follow Oregon 201 to Weiser. Take Highway 95 to Cambridge and then follow Highway 71/the Brownlee/Oxbow Highway to the reservoir.









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