Warm Lake offers chance to beat the heat, catch some fish near Cascade

Young angler Devin Wiltse of Boise caught this nice stringer of trout at Warm Lake northeast of Cascade.
Young angler Devin Wiltse of Boise caught this nice stringer of trout at Warm Lake northeast of Cascade. Special to the Idaho Statesman

The Treasure Valley is in the midst of its first heat wave of 2018. Spending a day on the water is one of the best ways to beat the 100-degree weather. Here are some good bets for cooler temps and hot fishing this week.

Warm Lake (Trout)

Located in the mountains northeast of Cascade, Warm Lake is a scenic place to escape the summer heat. My family spent a recent weekend at North Shore Lodge, and we had a great time fishing, hot springing, hiking and playing horseshoes. Warm Lake is a unique fishery, home to rainbow trout, Kokanee and all three Idaho char species — brook, bull and Mackinaw trout. Rainbows are the most common catch, taking spinners, Rapalas, flies, worms and Power Bait. Brookies are common in shallower water around the lily pads. Kokanee can be caught on trolling gear tipped with corn. Bull trout and Mackinaw are rarer finds, and they’ll be pretty deep this time of year. Fishing tends to be best early or late when the wind isn’t blowing; if you don’t have a boat, try bank fishing off Picnic Point. Rainbows, Kokanee and brook trout make excellent keepers, while bull trout are protected and big Mackinaws are better off released.

Getting there: Follow Idaho 55 north through Cascade, turn right on Warm Lake Road and follow it 26 miles to the lake. North Shore Lodge and Warm Lake Lodge offer cabin accommodations.

Boise River (Trout, Chinook)

Whether you prefer to fish, float or paddleboard, the Boise River is a go-to spot for a summer cool down. I’ve been seeing solid catch rates on trout for fly and spin anglers and, as an added bonus, Fish & Game stocked about 100 Chinook salmon in the river on Thursday. They won’t last long, but it’s a cool opportunity to fish for pacific salmon in the heart of Boise. Anglers do need a salmon tag to fish for Chinook in the Boise. It’s a two-fish limit per day, but barbless hooks are not required. If you prefer to stick to trout, use spinners, spoons, Rapalas, bead head nymphs, dry flies, hoppers or bait.

Getting there: Chinook were stocked between Glenwood Bridge and Barber Park. Trout fishing has been good through town and west into Eagle and Star.

Salmon and Clearwater Rivers (Chinook)

Summer salmon season is winding down. The South Fork Salmon (July 5), Upper Salmon (July 7) and Lochsa River (July 1) are closed, while angler effort has dropped off on the Snake, Clearwater and Little Salmon. From here on, most anglers will focus on the Mainstem Clearwater — the Upper and Lower sections remain open, and the middle section reopened July 7. Roe and egg imitations tend to work best this late in the season. Fishing is open Thursday through Sunday, barbless hooks are required and the limit is four salmon per day (only one adult) on the Mainstem Clearwater.

Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of salmon counts, special seasons and rules, and the latest harvest reports.

C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

Bruneau will be even hotter than Boise, but it felt wrong to not include a warm water destination. C.J. has been productive for a variety of species, with trout and bass carrying the morning bite and panfish picking up later in the day. Troll for trout, throw plastics and crankbaits for bass or toss small jigs and crankbaits tipped with worms or cut bait to tempt bluegill, crappie and perch.

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