Fish Rap: Anglers should pay attention to Lake Lowell’s special rules for bass

The Lake Lowell fishing season unofficially kicks off April 15 every year. Although it’s open to fishing year-round, that’s when motorboats can return, and the date roughly coincides with warmer water and more active bass.

Partly because of its proximity to Nampa and Caldwell, and also because Lake Lowell is a nice place to hang out and has easy bank access, it attracts lots of anglers. There are special rules there. From Jan. 1 to June 30, it’s limited to catch-and-release fishing only for bass. From July 1 to Dec. 31, anglers can keep two bass, none between 12 and 16 inches.

The lake has plentiful bass, and typically, they’re not hard to catch. But lots of folks either don’t know, or ignore, the rules. They keep bass before the harvest season opens, or keep bass that are protected by the slot limit. Idaho Fish and Game worked hard last year to educate people about the rules, and also wrote a fair number of tickets to anglers who broke them.

“We spent a ton of time on this. We are continuing this work with more signs, continued high patrols, handing out rules cards, etc.,” F&G’s Southwest Region Fish Manager Joe Kozfkay said.

Anglers can spare themselves embarrassment and potential citations by adhering to a simple rule: Don’t keep any bass until July 1.

Kozfkay also mentioned many of the bass in Lake Lowell are especially skinny this year, which signals a poor food supply and a likely overpopulation of them in the reservoir.

After June 30, he encourages anglers to use the slot limit and take a couple fish home. The lake can support a limited number of bass, and it can be a lot of skinny fish, or fewer fish that are in good shape, including some large, healthy ones. There’s rarely a shortage of young fish, so juveniles are best to thin out.

“It is very important to whack fish under the slot limit after the July 1 opener,” Kozfkay said.

“After” July 1 being the key word.