SOUTH FORK BOISE
The flows are fishable, and fall is a great time of year to chase the monster rainbows that lurk in deep, hard-to reach pools behind boulders and fallen trees. Remember the special rules for the South Fork: No bait allowed, only one barbless hook per lure or fly, and a two-fish limit, with none under 20 inches. Hoppers, streamers or matching the dry fly hatch are good bets for fly fishermen. Spinners like Panther Martins and Rooster Tails or Rapalas will catch fish for spin anglers — just make sure you remove all but one hook and pinch down the barbs.
Getting there: Fish below Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and follow Highway 20 northeast to Anderson Dam Road, which leads to the reservoir and the South Fork.
I’m getting good reports from fly fishermen on the Owyhee. Fall is always a good time of year for catching big brown trout, and a recent trico hatch is playing right into anglers’ hands. If you don’t catch the hatch, try throwing streamers, hoppers and other large offerings at the bruising browns, which often surpass the coveted 20-inch plateau on the Owyhee. Lower water levels in the fall lead to opportunities for sight fishing, which is a fun, exhilarating challenge.
Getting there: Fish upstream from Adrian, Ore.
LUCKY PEAK AREA
Check out Grimes Creek, Mores Creek and other tributaries of kokanee-inhabited lakes. You’ll see the bright-red fish in the water, so keep moving until you locate them. The fish don’t bite easily, but big flashy spoons, salmon eggs and neon-colored streamers or yarn can elicit a strike. 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.
Steelhead season opened Sept. 1 on the Snake and Salmon rivers. The Snake is open from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. The Salmon is open from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of Sawtooth Hatchery. The Little Salmon is open from its mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge. The limit is three per day and nine in possession for all three rivers. Throw plugs, jigs, flies, spoons and all your favorite steelhead baits. And remember: only fish with a clipped adipose fin may be kept.
Getting there: Check the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of river seasons and rules.
The silver lining of the high water that slowed spring fishing is that there’s still enough water to launch a boat and even fish some weed lines at Lowell. Throw soft plastics, spinner baits and jigs into the remaining submerged structure for bass. For catfish, fish from the dams or find relatively shallow flats and sink worms, shrimp or your favorite stink bait. There are nice bluegill and even a few crappie in Lowell as well.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
The old reliable Snake continues to produce quality fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish. Whether from a boat or from the bank, find clear channels where the moss isn’t too bad, and you’re in business. Soft plastics, worms, tube jigs, crankbaits and pretty much anything that looks like a crayfish will work for bass. Worms, chicken livers and stinkbait are the best bets for catfish. Get out there before the cooler weather moves in and slows things down!
Getting there: The fishing is good nearly anywhere between C.J. Strike and Brownlee reservoirs.