Summer is peak fishing season in Idaho — and it feels like it’s already packing its bags. Oftentimes, the problem becomes squeezing all your trips into the short window of golden summer weather!
One outing you’ll want to get on the books sooner than later is a trek into the mountains, where beautiful, hungry trout lie in wait for those willing to put in the work. Here are some tips for alpine trout fishing, along with a few other spots to check out:
Alpine Lakes (Trout)
If you want to get into the mountains in 2019, now is the time. Trailways are open, fish are biting and overnight temperatures are (usually) bearable in a standard sleeping bag. Idaho has dozens of mountain lakes to explore—check out the Sawtooths, the wilderness above McCall and the Rainbow Lakes Trail, just to name a few.
Wherever you journey takes you, the strategy for catching cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout is usually pretty standard. Throwing small dry flies, hoppers and bead head nymphs almost always gets some attention, and you can’t go wrong flinging small spinners, spoons and Rapalas, either.
For my money, it’s worth it to pack in a float tube, which gives you free roam of the lake instead of competing for limited shore access. Don’t ignore small inlet and outlet streams!
Getting there: Use a trail map and travel with a group to avoid getting lost. Many trails are clearly marked, but the farther into the wilderness you go, the more sparse information becomes.
C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
Always a safe bet for some kind of action, C.J. Strike has been fishing well for bass, crappie and trout. Bass anglers are catching lots of fish along the shorelines using jigs, crankbaits and other crayfish imitations. Topwater action has also been good early and late in the day. Crappie have been biting in the narrows, with lots of borderline keepers in the 8- to 10-inch class. Small jigs tipped with worms, cut bait or crappie nibbles are the ticket, and bluegill and perch are common bycatch. Stocked rainbow trout like to congregate near the dam — trolling with wedding rings or Rapalas is the best way to target them.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 51 south toward Bruneau and Grandview.
Sagehen Reservoir (Trout)
For an alpine feel without the hike, try Sagehen Reservoir north of Boise. This small lake is generously stocked with rainbow trout and offers boat access, decent shore fishing and dozens of campsites right on the water. It can get crowded in the summer months, but getting out in a boat or float tube relieves the congestion.
Trolling seems to be the most productive strategy, with anglers towing flashers trailed by wedding rings, hoochies or spinners tipped with worms or corn. Stripping leeches from a float tube or fishing bait on a slip sinker from shore should also attract some attention.
Getting there: Take Highway 55 North to Horseshoe Bend, then cut west and take the Sweet-Ola Highway north to the forest service road turnoffs. The reservoir is about 2 hours from Boise.
Boise River (Trout)
For convenient fishing through town, the Boise River continues to produce. I’m seeing decent catch rates and great quality on rainbow trout this year, with a few brown trout and whitefish mixed in.
Nymphs and streamers are always a solid bet on a fly rod, and caddis hatches often hit in the evening. Spinners, spoons, crankbaits, worms, marshmallows and Power Bait are also solid choices. Fun fact: as you head west toward the Snake River, the Boise turns into a grab bag of trout, bass, catfish and more!
Getting there: Rainbow trout are stocked all along the river, from Barber Park to Glenwood Bridge and out through Meridian and Star.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at email@example.com or visit www.tightlines208.com.