The alpine fishing season starts winding down soon, so get there while you can. Pick one of Idaho’s countless mountain lakes and plan a weekend around it. Small spinners such as Panther Martins, Blue Foxes, Rooster Tails and Mepps can catch cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout by the dozen. Small flies — fished with a fly rod or clear bobber — also are deadly. Bait fishermen should use worms, Powerbait or salmon eggs. Check fire conditions before you go, and be sure to dress for cooler temperatures, especially at night.
Getting there: The McCall, Cascade and Stanley areas have dozens of lakes to explore.
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LUCKY PEAK AREA
The kokanee run is officially underway in Grimes Creek, Mores Creek and any tributaries of lakes with kokanee populations (Arrowrock, Anderson Ranch, Deadwood, etc.). Red-phase kokanee are notoriously stingy, but it sure is cool to watch them, and fishing for them is a fun challenge. Bright, obnoxious spinners and spoons can elicit a strike, and some anglers swear by salmon eggs and brightly colored yarn, similar to what is used during chinook season. Resist the temptation to purposely snag fish (it’s illegal). If you are lucky enough to catch one, turn it loose so it can spawn and finish its life cycle. Trout fishing can be great during kokanee runs, too. They follow the salmon upstream to eat the eggs.
Getting there: Explore the inlet and outlet streams. Mores Creek and Grimes Creek along Highway 21 are good places to start.
BEN ROSS RESERVOIR
Ben Ross is a great little lake with largemouth, bluegill, crappie and even some trout. It’s only about two hours from Boise. Plastic worms and grubs, spinnerbaits and topwater offerings are good bets for bass. Bring along some worms, panfish jigs and trout gear, because you never know what might show up. The water level is low right now, so launching a motorboat is dicey. There is plenty of bank access, though, and the fish are concentrated in a smaller area. Float tubes and canoes can still be easily launched from the bank.
Getting there: From Boise, head northwest to Weiser, and then continue north on Highway 95 past Cambridge and Alpine. Take a right on West Indian Valley Road and follow it to the reservoir.
Float season is winding down, making more of the river accessible to anglers. Throw spinners, flies, Rapalas or night crawlers through deep pools, runs and riffles. The Boise has underrated fishing for stocked and wild rainbow trout (release the wild ones), and there are some big brown trout lurking in there, too. Try the deeper, slower-moving sections to try and coax a brown from its lair.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and Star.
The Snake River system — including C.J. Strike, Swan Falls and Brownlee reservoirs — continues to be dynamite for a variety of species, particularly bass and channel catfish. Whether you are fishing from the bank or a boat, chances are you’ll have to bob and weave through some moss. It’s usually worth the hassle. Bass fishing should remain good to excellent for another month or so, and catfish are still on the take. Throw jigs, soft plastics or topwater lures for bass. Worms, crickets and cut bait are catfish favorites. Sturgeon, perch and crappie are available in certain areas — sturgeon love to hang out below dams, while the reservoirs are the best bets for panfish.
Getting there: The fishing is good almost anywhere between C.J. Strike and Brownlee reservoirs.