Fishing report: After harmful algae bloom, Brownlee Reservoir is back in the mix

For the first time this year, it’s really starting to feel like fall. And while the cooler weather will slow down some fishing holes, others are just starting to heat up. Here are a few ideas for your next outing:

Brownlee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

The harmful algae has dissipated at Brownlee, a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border. I heard good things from bass tournament anglers last weekend — crankbaits, jigs, swimbaits and spinnerbaits are good choices this time of year, as bass are on the prowl for wayward minnows.

It’s not too late to get into some channel and/or flathead catfish, either. Worms, cut bait, Mormon crickets or deep-diving crankbaits should attract some bites. Crappie are another popular target at Brownlee. This year’s class of fish includes some really big fish in the 14-inch range, and lots of smaller fish that aren’t quite worth keeping. The big ones are usually enough to keep it interesting. Fishing vertically with panfish jigs or trolling with medium-diving crankbaits are the best crappie strategies.

Getting there: Access boat launches via Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.

Payette River (Trout, Bass)

There are two ways to fish the Payette, and fall is a great time for both. For whitewater trout stream fishing, try the stretch between Horseshoe Bend and Cascade. It’s steep terrain, but there are some nice holes to hunt rainbow trout using spinners, flies or bait. Float traffic has slowed down and lower fall flows make for easier fishing.

If bass and catfish are what you seek, fish between Black Canyon Dam and the confluence of the Payette and Snake River west of New Plymouth. Smallmouth are actively feeding as they prepare for winter, and they will eagerly attack minnow-imitating lures. Channel catfish are also a possibility — fish with bait in deep current seams to tempt a cat.

Getting there: Fish along Highway 55 north of Boise or west of Black Canyon Dam.

Owyhee Reservoir (Bass, Crappie)

Big bass continue to be caught on the regular at Owyhee Reservoir in eastern Oregon. With the water level dropping, the fish are moving offshore, where they hang out around rock piles and other submerged structures. Plastic worms, Ned rigs and other finesse baits are good options, and you can also rack up numbers on crankbaits and chatter baits if you find a group of bass feeding on baitfish.

Largemouth over five pounds and smallmouth over four pounds are not uncommon, so tie good knots! Owyhee is a prime crappie destination, too. Target them using panfish jigs tipped with crappie nibbles.

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

Quick Hitters

- Lake Cascade has a harmful algae bloom and is probably best avoided until further notice. Some folks are still out catching fish, but algae is hazardous for kids and pets, especially dogs.

- I’d like to amend my most recent fishing report on the South Fork Boise River. I incorrectly wrote that flows were ideal for wading—the water is higher than usual for this time of year, making it better for fishing from a drift boat or a safe shoreline perch.

Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at or visit

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