The moment anglers across Southwest Idaho have been waiting for is here. Local rivers finally have fishable flows after months of heavy spring runoff, which means fish that haven’t seen a lure or fly in quite some time are once again accessible for anglers fishing from shore or a drift boat. Here’s the latest report on how and where to catch fish:
South Fork Boise River (Trout)
A local favorite for fly anglers, the South Fork is the place to hunt big fish on large flies. Rainbows in the 2- to 4-pound class are common, with a shot at even bigger fish, including monster bull trout. Tie good knots. I heard one good report of fish hitting on salmon flies last week, and another reliable source was catching trout on stonefly nymphs. There’s also a decent caddis hatch most evenings. Bait isn’t allowed on the South Fork, but spin anglers can get in on the action with modified spinners, spoons or Rapalas, which can only have one barbless hook. If you’re a fishing nut like me, take along a spinning rod and a fly outfit to keep your options open. Remember the two-trout limit — none under 20 inches.
Getting there: Fish along the national forest wilderness between Anderson Ranch Dam and Neal Bridge.
Snake River (Bass, Catfish)
The Snake River has really turned on, with hot fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish alike. With flows as low as they’ve been all season, anglers can scramble along the shoreline to find points and rockpiles to fish from. Fishing deep pools and eddies with soft plastic grubs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits is the best way to target bass. Use cut bait or chicken livers on heavier tackle to target catfish. You can also fish a live worm — you’re likely to catch lots of smaller bass, with a shot at a big smallmouth or channel cat. Sturgeon holes are easier to identify when the river drops, too, and anglers have been wrestling some nice dinos on the usual assortment of cut bait, squid and pickled herring.
Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.
Boise River (Trout)
It’s nice to see fish being caught on the Boise River again. Anglers are wrangling lots of rainbow trout and the occasional brown trout or whitefish, mostly by flinging spinners, bait or flies. Panther Martin spinners in green/orange or black/gold are two favorites of mine. Rainbow-colored Rooster Tails and silver Blue Fox are also popular offerings. For the fly crowd, the go-to presentations are subsurface nymphs like the hare’s ear, pheasant tail or copper John. Big streamers like a sculpin or muddler minnow might entice a bigger brown or rainbow, especially late in the evening. It’s a busy time on the river, with lots of floaters and other recreationists around. Fish early to avoid the crowds!
Getting there: Rainbow trout are stocked all along the river, from Barber Park to Glenwood Bridge and out through Meridian and Star.
Algae Alert (Brownlee Reservoir)
There’s nothing official from DEQ as of this writing, but it looks like we have a large algae bloom forming at Brownlee Reservoir. Algae blooms aren’t uncommon when the weather heats up, and it’s usually best to fish elsewhere until they pass. If you do head to Brownlee, keep yourself, your kids and your pets out of the water. Algae can release toxins that are irritating to skin and potentially deadly to dogs.
Come learn All About that Bass: I’m teaching a bass fishing class July 22, and I have three spots left. “All About that Bass” will give students a deep dive into best lures, locations and strategies for catching largemouth and smallmouth bass in Idaho. Sign up at www.tightlines208.com. I hope to see you there!