It’s definitely feeling like autumn outside, which means it’s time we anglers turn our attention to local rivers. Cooler water temps, lower flows and hungry fish usually add up to great trout fishing in October. Here are three rivers worth checking out:
Owyhee River (Trout)
October is prime time for catching the trophy brown trout that call the Owyhee home. In the morning, midges are usually the way to go, with crane flies on the surface also getting some attention. Pale morning duns and blue winged olives usually produce later in the day along with hoppers and beetles. Most days, nymphing produces the steadiest action. Midges and hare’s ear nymphs are hard to beat. Streamers and leeches stripped through deeper water are a great way to target big fish, especially at dusk. Spin anglers can also get in on the catch-and-release fun with spinners, swim baits and crankbaits. The fish will start spawning soon, so watch for redds if you go wading. Don’t forget your Oregon license!
Getting there: Head west to Oregon through Parma and fish downstream of Owyhee Reservoir.
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Boise River (Trout)
The Boise River has been fishing well through town. Rainbow trout are always the most common catch — try to release the wild ones, marked by brighter colors and full, white-tipped fins. Brown trout also become more active this time of year as they get ready to spawn. The fish will bite on a variety of gear. Nymphs like the hare’s ear, prince and pheasant tail are standbys, while caddis flies usually work the best on top. Spinners, spoons and Rapalas will catch fish on spinning tackle, as will worms, Power Bait and marshmallows drifted through deep pools and riffles. For a quick morning or afternoon getaway, it’s hard to beat these beautiful fall days on the Boise.
Getting there: Trout are stocked along the river, from Barber Park downstream through Eagle and Star.
Payette River (Trout, Bass)
The Payette River is a versatile fishery, and fishing has been good for both of its primary inhabitants. North of Horseshoe Bend along Highway 55 is a trout fishery, with rainbows comprising the bulk of the catch. Flies, spinners and bait can all produce if you find good pools to fish between the whitewater. As the river turns west through Emmett and New Plymouth, it becomes a bass fishery. The smallmouth are putting on the feed bag as winter closes in — minnow and crayfish imitations like jigs, swimbaits and spinnerbaits can pile up fish in a hurry, and there are some big ones. Catfish and pikeminnow also are common, especially for bait anglers.
Getting there: Fish the river along Highway 55 to target trout or towards New Plymouth to seek bass.
Fall steelhead season is off to a slow start statewide, and it might not get much better. According to Idaho Fish and Game, this year’s return over the Bonneville Dam could be the lowest since 1944. As a result, officials have reduced the harvest limit to one hatchery steelhead per angler. Traditional methods like bouncing jigs-and-bobbers, back-trolling crankbaits and drifting streamers or roe balls still will catch fish, but anglers likely will have to work longer and harder. The one-fish limit is in effect through Dec. 31. Stay tuned for updates as the season progresses.
Fish salvage on at Little Camas
Sadly, low water conditions have prompted Idaho Fish and Game to open Little Camas Reservoir northeast of Mountain Home to salvage rules. Fish aren’t expected to survive the winter, so licensed anglers may keep as many fish as they catch through Dec. 31. I haven’t heard an update on how low it is as of this writing, but at less than 90 minutes away, it might be worth a trip to check it out and potentially fill your freezer with rainbow trout fillets.