Watch this bass strike a top-water lure at Crane Falls
Crane Falls/Cove Arm (mixed bag)
This Bruneau double dip is one of my favorite summer fishing spots. Located just a few minutes apart, Crane Falls and Cove Arm are great to visit on the same trip. Crane Falls is home to largemouth bass (trophy rules apply), bluegill, crappie, perch and rainbow trout. Its weed beds are great for targeting bass with soft plastics and top-water frogs. The panfish variety is outstanding, and trout and bass are a big hit with the fly-fishing crowd. Only electric motors are allowed, making Crane Falls a great spot for a canoe, kayak or float tube. Cove Arm is primarily a smallmouth fishery, although it holds largemouth, bluegill, crappie and perch. Gas motors are allowed, but it’s small enough to navigate in lighter watercraft. Tube jigs, Senkos and crayfish imitations are good lures to throw for bass. We put six different species in the boat on my most recent trip, which was a Saturday split between both locations.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and follow Highway 51 south toward Bruneau. Hang a right on Crane Falls Road and follow the sportsman’s access signs to the lakes.
Alpine Lakes (trout)
Now is the time to seek cooler conditions in the mountains. I wrote about beating the heat in last week’s Fish Rap column, while Chadd Cripe profiled Jennie Lake. That piece offers a reasonable picture of what to expect at most alpine lakes — hikes of a few miles, gorgeous mountain scenery, at least moderate elevation gains and the reward of fishing pristine gems that rarely see heavy angling pressure. A Panther Martin or some flies are usually all you need to catch cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Hoppers, ants, leeches and woolly worms are good flies to pack. Trolling from a float tube with the latter can be productive.
Getting there: There are dozens of lakes to explore in the high wilderness around Cascade, McCall, Stanley and Grandjean. Take a trail map and travel with a group to be safe.
Anderson Ranch Reservoir (Kokanee)
If trolling is your game, Anderson Ranch has been the most productive lake for Kokanee salmon this year. Anglers have been catching nice silversides on wedding rings, hoochies, squid jigs and plugs tipped with shoepeg corn. Depth varies, but I’d start with one rod at 25 feet and another at 40 this time of year. Anderson has two bonus features — a 25-fish limit on Kokanee and landlocked Chinook, which can approach 10 pounds. If the trolling is slow, try throwing jigs and crankbaits around rocky points and ledges to target smallmouth bass.
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take exit 95 and follow U.S. 20 northeast to Anderson Ranch Dam Road or forest road 61 to Curlew boat launch.
Milner Reservoir (bass, catfish)
If you’re looking for a new day-trip destination, Milner is a good spot to stack up some fish. The Snake River reservoir near Burley is loaded with smallmouth bass — reports from a recent tournament suggest 50-fish days are possible. Idaho Power also recently stocked the reservoir with 20,000 channel catfish, some of which carry a $50 prize tag. Jigs and crankbaits are the ticket for bass, while worms and cut bait are the preferred catfish offerings. From Boise, plan for about a two-hour drive.
Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Burley. The most popular access points are Lex Kunau Park in Burley and North Freedom Park in Heyburn.