Despite thinning mainstream crowds, there are still fish in S. Idaho waiting to be caught

Launching a boat might be tricky, but November is a great month to chase big crappie at Brownlee and other reservoirs along the Snake River.
Launching a boat might be tricky, but November is a great month to chase big crappie at Brownlee and other reservoirs along the Snake River. Courtesy of Jordan Rodriguez

Fishing season might be slowing down for the mainstream crowd, but plenty of options remain available in southwest Idaho this time of year. November has been hoodie weather so far, so what are you waiting for?

From trout and crappie to bass and steelhead, there are fish out there waiting to be caught. Here are a few destinations to try.

Brownlee Reservoir (Crappie, Bass)

November can be a great crappie month at Brownlee Reservoir. The fish are about as big as they’ll get after a full growing season, and they are likely holding in large schools near rocky points and coves. Use small panfish jigs tipped with crappie nibbles. Red, yellow, black, orange and pink are popular colors. I’ve also had success trolling for crappie with crankbaits. For either method, look for fish in 10 to 40 feet of water.

A boat is helpful, but launching one can be tricky during low-water season. Make sure you stay safe and keep your vehicle out of muddy terrain if you attempt to launch from shore. In addition to crappie, Brownlee holds lots of bass and catfish. The bite will be fading for those species, but bass will still strike jigs and crankbaits fished at slower speeds, while catfish can be tempted with various baits.

Getting there: Located on the Idaho-Oregon border along the Snake River, Brownlee can be accessed in several places, including Weiser on the Idaho side and Huntington on the Oregon side.

Horsethief Reservoir (Trout, Kokanee)

Before long, we’ll be talking about ice fishing at Horsethief. For now, anglers have been catching nice stringers of trout on open water, either by casting from shore or trolling in a boat. For the former, try spinners, spoons, worms, Power Bait or marshmallows. Rapalas might especially tempt the aggressive brown trout that lurk amongst the more common rainbows.

If you’re trolling, use pop gear tipped with corn and worms or drag lures like spinners and Rapalas. Trolling anglers might also bump into some Kokanee salmon. Horsethief is generously stocked and usually produces at least a few fish. If it doesn’t, Lake Cascade and Warm Lake are just a short drive away.

Getting there: Take Highway 55 north through Cascade, turn right on Warm Lake Road and follow it eight miles to the turnoff for Horsethief.

Boise River (Trout, Whitefish)

I haven’t had much time to fish in recent weeks, but the Boise River has delivered a couple of quick, successful afternoon trips. The water is down, so it’s pretty easy to get around and read the quality fishing holes. Spinners, spoons, Rapalas, worms and Power Bait will catch fish.

For the fly crowd, small caddis patterns might get a few sips on top, while bead head nymphs and midges are always a reliable option for both trout and whitefish. A special shout out to brown trout — they are spawning this time of year, so if you catch a big one, throw it back so it can make babies!

Getting there: Fish and Game stocks trout all along the river, from Barber Park down though Garden City, Eagle and Star. There are healthy native populations, too.

Mountain View Reservoir (Trout)

Sheep Creek and Lake Billy Shaw are closed for the winter, but Mountain View remains open to anglers on Duck Valley Reservation. November weather can be touch-and-go, so do some research before committing to the nearly three-hour trip. Fall fishing can be outstanding at Duck Valley for those willing to brave it.

The weeds are thick near the shoreline, but getting out beyond them in a small boat or float tube puts you right on the fish. Football-sized rainbows will be cruising and looking for an easy meal. Tempt them with spinners, bait or flies, including small nymphs or dark-colored streamers.

Getting there: Follow Interstate 84 east to Mountain Home, then take Idaho 51 south toward the Nevada border.