This time of year, some of my fishing buddies go dormant. They like to fly fish on rivers for trout and steelhead. General stream season has closed for trout, and steelhead fishing is winding down.
I used to be the same way before I moved to Boise 15 years ago, then some guys showed me how much fun lakes and reservoirs can be for a fly angler. It wasn’t a foreign idea. When I was a kid, I used to troll with a fly rod for the simple reason that it worked and I thought it was more fun to catch trout on a fly rod than a spinning rod.
I also learned there were a lot more things to catch in a lake, reservoir or pond than trout. I learned it grudgingly because I always held trout in the highest esteem, but auto-loading bluegill on a light fly rod was simply irresistible. Ditto for crappie. And then I started catching bass and found them a fun and challenging quarry. Pretty soon I had added carp to my list, and occasionally I stumble into other species that would take a fly.
Now spring is my favorite time to fly fish because there is so much cool stuff going on, and those reservoirs that seemed like fly-fishing voids or too vast to cover with a fly rod and float tube are now some of my favorite haunts.
And that’s key to this. You don’t need an expensive boat to fish lakes and reservoirs. A small, inexpensive one-person boat is your ticket. Pick your spots carefully and watch the weather. There’s a lot of good fishing along the shoreline, especially in the spring when the shore tends to have the warmest water and the most fish.
I’ve floated large reservoirs like Magic, C.J. Strike, Brownlee, Lake Lowell, Lake Billy Shaw and many more. I’ve landed a lot of fish by simply casting a wooly bugger toward shore, letting it sink, and then stripping it back.
I’ve also turned these trips into spring camp-outs. Fishing during the day, grilling steaks at night, then rolling out of bed the next morning and walking to shore and start fishing again is a pretty solid weekend in my book.