August is the prime month to visit Idaho’s alpine lakes. With the early heat this summer, most lakes have been accessible and fishing well since late June, but even the highest lakes should have turned on by now. Do some homework before you leave — on trails and camping amenities and on fish species present in your target lake. Cutthroat trout are the most common quarry, but some lakes have rainbow trout, brook trout and rare finds like golden trout and arctic grayling. Small flies like midges, small spinners like Panther Martins and live worms will catch fish.
Getting there: The McCall, Cascade and Stanley areas have dozens of lakes to explore.
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C. J. STRIKE RESERVOIR
Fishing is good at C.J. Strike, and anglers are boating everything from bass and trout to perch, bluegill and crappie. Work rocky points or weed lines with soft plastics, crankbaits or jigs for bass. Search the narrows for schools of panfish, or troll for trout. Or, throw a juicy nightcrawler out and see what decides to eat it. C.J. Strike is a great place to target multiple species in one day, and some really nice fish have been caught there lately.
Getting there: Take Interstate 84 to Mountain Home and go south.
Kokanee trolling continues to produce on both reservoirs. A little farther out of town, Deadwood Reservoir and Anderson Ranch have been steady. Fishing is best done using downriggers and pop gear tipped with shoepeg corn. As the season wears on, catch numbers often go down, but more big fish are caught. If fish aren’t biting, experiment with depth. Twenty to 30 feet is the summer norm, but late-season fish sometimes hang out much shallower — or deeper — than that.
Getting there: Take Idaho 21 to Lucky Peak and continue East on Spring Shores/Arrowrock Road to the reservoir.
There isn’t much new to report on the Snake, but the bass and catfish are still biting like crazy. Use weedless lures or find clear eddies to avoid getting hung up on the increasing moss. It’s a big year for Mormon Crickets, which are deadly catfish bait. If you can get your hands on some, sink one to the bottom and hold on!
Getting there: The fishing is good nearly anywhere between C.J. Strike and Brownlee reservoirs.
It’s frog season, and the topwater strike alone is worth the trip to Lowell (or anywhere else that holds largemouth bass). The first and last hours of daylight are prime time for frogs and other topwater lures. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics also will catch fish.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell. All three boat launches are operational.
This lake is open to salvage fishing, which means licensed anglers can keep as many fish as they catch. Horsethief will be drained in October to rid the lake of invasive bullheads. For now, the water levels are decent, and anglers are catching trout from shore, boats and float tubes. In addition to Horsethief, Fish and Game has opened salvage fishing rules at three Hagerman Wildlife Management Area ponds and the Big Wood River below Magic Reservoir from the old railroad trestle to the Gooding County line.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade, turn right on Warm Lake Road and follow it about 8 miles to the reservoir.