It’s a bit of a car ride from the Treasure Valley, but the fishing is usually worth the trip. Bass fishing has been good on jigs, crankbaits and soft plastics. Flathead and channel catfish will take worms, dead minnows, cutbait and stinkbait. Fishing for crappie and other panfish can be incredible. Location is key at Brownlee — fish tend to aggregate in certain spots, so keep moving until you find them. It’s a great place to take advantage of a two-pole permit. Throw for bass or panfish on one pole, and let the other line sit on the bottom for catfish.
Getting there: Head west on I-84, take U.S. 95 north through Weiser and, from Cambridge, follow Idaho 71 northwest to the reservoir.
Lowell is primarily known as a largemouth fishery and it is one of Idaho’s top bass destinations even though the bite has been slower this season. But the fish are still there if you’re willing to work for them. The higher water levels should keep the boat ramps open through the end of the motorized season (Sept. 30). The topwater bass bite can be especially fun using frogs, flies or buzz baits. Lowell is also an underrated catfish and panfish destination. There are lots of big channel cats near the dams, and anglers have been locating some nice schools of bluegill and even an occasional crappie.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
A favorite of fly fishermen and a solid bet for big brown trout and fat, line-peeling rainbows. Within the next few weeks, the browns should begin their spawn. Like salmon, browns change color during the spawn, with more pronounced shades of yellow and red. Unlike salmon, they continue to feed during the spawn and they don’t die afterward, so catch and release is the way to go in the fall. Try midges, streamers and hoppers, or match the hatch with dry flies and nymphs. For spin fishermen, spinners and Rapalas will catch fish.
Getting there: Fish upstream from Adrian, Ore.
BIG WOOD RIVER
It’s a good time of year to head east and fish the Big Wood. The main Big Wood River and Silver Creek are favorites for fly fishermen. Spin fisherman can get in on the fun in most sections of the Big Wood as well. Match the hatch with flies or throw small spinners. Pay close attention to the regulations because rules vary depending on what stretch of river you are fishing. Right now, salvage rules are in effect from the Magic Reservoir Dam downstream to the Gooding County Line (about 1.25 miles). Licensed anglers can keep all fish caught in that stretch, regardless of size or species and there are no regulations on bait or tackle.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and U.S. 20 northeast to Idaho 75.
The Snake continues to produce good-to-excellent fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish. Popular access points include the C.J. Strike area, Celebration Park, Swan Falls Dam and Steck Park. Weeds are becoming a problem, but if you can fish around them or find clear channels, you’ll be in business. Bass will take jigs, soft plastic worms and crayfish, crankbaits or live worms. Catfish prefer cut bait (pikeminnow, carp or scraps from filleted panfish are popular choices) as well as chicken livers, worms and Mormon crickets. The next month or so should be prime time as fish pack on calories for the cooler months ahead.
Getting there: The fishing is good almost anywhere between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.