Catfish are jumpin’ on the Snake River (fishing report, Aug. 2)

Channel catfish don’t mind the heat, and some big fish have been biting on the Snake River.
Channel catfish don’t mind the heat, and some big fish have been biting on the Snake River. Special to the Idaho Statesman

It’s a tricky time of year to plan a fishing trip. The heat can be stifling, and wildfire season is causing road closures and bad air quality. With that in mind, here are some destinations to try a little closer to home.

Or, if it’s too hot for your taste, head to the Boise Centre downtown and check out the Fly Fishers International Fair and Fishfest, happening Aug. 7-11. The event will feature more than 100 workshops on a wide variety of fly-fishing topics taught by expert FFI and guest instructors. Enjoy!

Snake River (Catfish, Bass)

It’s prime catfish season on the Snake River. The whisker fish are actively feeding on just about any bait you’d like to throw at them. Cut bait, worms, Mormon crickets and chicken livers are some of the most poplar choices, but I’ve heard of anglers using hot dogs, bar soap, shrimp and all manner of homemade stink bait concoctions. On a recent trip, my friends and I caught two 28-inch channel cats at dusk. I recommend buying a two-pole permit, which allows you to set up a bait rod for catfish and actively fish a second rod with jigs, crankbaits or plastics for smallmouth bass. We put more than 30 bass in the boat on that same trip, so hitting both bass and catfish offers a good combination of steady action and size.

Getting there: Popular access points include Swan Falls south of Kuna, Marsing and Walter’s Ferry south of Nampa.

Horseshoe Bend Mill Pond (Mixed Bag)

Mill Pond is just a quick 45 minutes up Highway 55, clear of any wildfire fallout as of this writing. It offers a good mix of fishing opportunities, with largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and stocked rainbow trout. Fish around structure with plastics and jigs for bass. Bait is the ticket for catfish. A worm and bobber or small jigs and flies will catch bluegill — they are on the small side, but they provide steady action for the kids. Trout anglers usually troll with spinners or small Rapalas, which will also catch bass. There is a small dock and launch area for canoes, kayaks and small boats with electric trolling motors.

Getting there: Take Highway 55 and look for the turnoff to Mill Pond just north of Horseshoe Bend.

Little Camas Reservoir (Trout)

I have not been to Little Camas this season, but I hear good things. The lake is stocked with fast-growing rainbow trout that easily reach 14 to 16 inches under good water conditions like we’ve had the last two years. Trolling is the preferred method, with anglers dragging flashers and pop gear trailed by small lures tipped with worms or corn. Kicking around the shallows with a float tube and fly rod (use leeches and woolly buggars) or fishing from shore with spinners or bait can also produce some fish.

Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 20 east toward Fairfield. Little Camas is just off the highway, roughly 70 minutes from Boise.

Boise River (Trout)

If you only have a couple hours to kill, the Boise River is an awesome option. You’ll have to elude the float crowd on these hot afternoons, but there’s plenty of space to find your own stretch of river to chase rainbow and brown trout with spinners, spoons or flies. Grasshoppers and other terrestrial patterns are a standby this time of year, and the fish will also sip caddis, trico and PMD patterns early or late in the day. As always, I recommend keeping stocked rainbows and releasing the larger, rarer wild rainbows and browns.

Getting there: Trout are stocked along the river, from Barber Park downstream through Eagle and star.