Snake and Salmon Rivers (Steelhead)
Steelhead season is open on the Snake and Salmon rivers. Fish counts at Bonneville and Lower Granite dams are down by about 15 percent compared with this time last year, but anglers already are catching fish and the season should really hit its stride over the next month. Throw plugs, jigs, streamers, spoons, roe and all your favorite steelhead lures and baits. And remember: Only fish with a clipped adipose fin may be kept.
Getting there: Check the Fish & Game website for a complete list of river seasons and rules.
Payette River (Mixed Bag)
This often-overlooked river can produce great fall fishing for a variety of species. Along Idaho 55 between Horseshoe Bend and Cascade, try for rainbow trout using small spinners, spoons, flies or night crawlers. There are some perch and bass below Lake Cascade. Through Emmett and New Plymouth, smallmouth bass become the primary target, with some nice channel catfish mixed in. Throw crayfish-patterned crankbaits, jigs or soft plastics for bass. Cutbait or stinkbait will catch catfish and worms will catch both species.
Getting there: The river follows Highway 52 from Payette to Horseshoe Bend, and then Highway 55 north toward Cascade.
Lake Lowell (Mixed Bag)
Motorized boat season on Lowell closes Sept. 30, so fish it while you can. There’s still plenty of water to launch a boat. Anglers have been catching some nice late-season bass, catfish and all three species of panfish. Remember the special regulations on bass — two fish per day, none between 12-16 inches. Boats must be off the water by dark, so get there early.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
Mountain Lakes (Trout)
The alpine season is winding down, but anglers are still catching some nice trout. Dress for chilly nighttime weather if you go and target lower lakes as the fall weather creeps in. Lakes with brook trout seem to be fishing the best right now. It’s supposed to be a nice, warm weekend, so it could be a good time for a last hurrah in the mountains. Pack spinners, flies or night crawlers.
Getting there: The McCall, Cascade and Stanley areas have dozens of lakes to explore.
Snake River (Bass, Catfish)
The Snake keeps churning out quality fishing for smallmouth bass and catfish — but the clock is ticking. Early October usually signals the twilight of the bass season, so get a line wet while you can. If you’re able to work around the weed beds, you can pile up bass on soft plastic lures, worms and even top-water baits. Anglers are catching some huge catfish all along the Snake, including some nice flatheads in the Steck Park area. Cut bait, worms, chicken livers and dead minnows are the best baits for catfish.
Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.