Try these four spots for great fall fishing in Idaho

It’s worth the trip to eastern Oregon to hunt for big bass like this chunky Owyhee Reservoir smallmouth.
It’s worth the trip to eastern Oregon to hunt for big bass like this chunky Owyhee Reservoir smallmouth. Courtesy of Jordan Rodriguez

Fall is in the air, and the change of seasons brings great fishing opportunities to our area. From ideal flows in trout streams to hungry bass in reservoirs, here are some September spots worth checking out:

Owyhee Reservoir (Bass, Crappie)

Located less than two hours from Boise, Owyhee might be the best big bass water in our region. It’s a huge reservoir, and it holds big largemouth and smallmouth in relatively equal proportions. I recently fished Owyhee with local bass pro Nick Young — read more about that trip in next week’s fishing column — and we put 30 fish in the boat throwing plastic worms, Ned rigs and other finesse baits around rocky structure. Our biggest largemouth was five pounds and our biggest smallmouth was just shy of four — and even bigger fish are possible. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs will also catch fish. Owyhee is a prime crappie destination, too. Target them using small panfish jigs tipped with crappie nibbles.

Getting there: Head west across the Oregon border to Adrian (be sure to grab an Oregon license) and follow the Owyhee River upstream past the dam.

Lake Cascade (Perch, Trout)

September is a beautiful month to fish Lake Cascade. Temperatures have been hovering right around 70, and I’m getting good reports on multiple species. Jumbo perch, as usual, are the main draw. Anglers have been catching some nice ones near the city boat ramp and off Crown Point. Target schools in 15 to 30 feet of water with a live worm or small jigs tipped with cut bait. Anglers have also been catching trout, mostly by trolling pop gear or Rapalas. Bait fishing from the bank can also produce. Don’t overlook smallmouth bass — I caught a couple nice ones on my last visit to Cascade, and they see less angling pressure than trout and perch. To target bass, throw tube jigs, grubs and other crayfish imitations.

Note: There are reports of blue green algae at Lake Cascade, which isn’t uncommon for lakes and ponds this time of year. The presence of algae doesn’t make it unsafe to catch or keep fish, but it can be toxic to dogs and irritate a person’s skin. It’s best to leave your pets at home and stay out of the water until the blooms clear up.

Getting there: Take Highway 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.

Boise River (Trout)

It’s easy to overlook the Boise River, but it really is a great fishery — especially in the fall when flows drop to angler-friendly levels. I’m encouraged by the number of big, wild fish I’m seeing in recent reports, especially brown trout. Browns will hit the baits, lures and flies anglers use for rainbows, but to target them specifically, try using Rapalas, crankbaits, streamers and larger fish-imitating lures. For the fly crowd, fishing early or late with tricos, caddis or PMDs is a good bet. Prince, pheasant tail and hare’s ear nymphs usually get some attention, too. As always, I encourage anglers to release big rainbows and browns to keep those genes in the river. There are plenty of stocked rainbows for the frying pan.

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

Henry’s Lake (Trout)

It’s a five-hour trek to get there, but if you have a free weekend and a hankering for monster fish, Henry’s Lake has already produced two trout over 13 pounds this month. Just sayin’. Fish with spinners, Rapalas, chunky leech and streamer patterns, worms, cut bait or Power Bait.

Getting there: Take Interstate 84 and Interstate 15 east to Idaho Falls, then follow Highway 20 north past Island Park. Henry’s Lake is just shy of West Yellowstone near the Montana border.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman