Fishing changes with the seasons. It’s been a beautiful, warm Idaho autumn so far and fishing has been off (or, more accurately, on) the hook for warmwater species such as bass and catfish.
But all good things come to an end — or at least go on hiatus until spring — and with the 80-degree days in the rearview mirror, it’s about time to dive head-first into cool-weather fishing mode.
And that means trout. Big, fat, hungry, football-shaped trout. Which is tons of fun to do in:
Rivers: Unlike warmwater fish, trout stay fairly active year-round in rivers. But fall can be particularly productive as lower flows make rivers easier to navigate and more enjoyable to fish. Deep pools stick out like sore thumbs and it’s more convenient to get to those spots than during high-water times. And it’s spawning season for brown trout, which means opportunities for big fish in the Boise and Owyhee rivers. The Payette River is a nearby gem that often flies under the radar. And for the cost of a tank of gas, anglers can head east for great fishing on the Big Wood River and the South Fork of the Snake.
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Lakes: Fall trout fishing in lakes and reservoirs can be absolute magic. During the hot summer months, most trout — especially the big ones — hang out in deeper, cooler water. But when water temps drop in the fall, trout begin cruising the shorelines in search of an easy meal. This puts them in bank-fishing range for fly, lure and bait anglers. Many anglers have success with relatively simple setups, sinking a live worm to the bottom with a marshmallow to help float the bait 6-12 inches off the bottom. If fish are actively rising, throw flies or put your bait under a bobber. Popular destinations for fall trout include Lake Cascade, C.J. Strike, Arrowrock, the Duck Valley Reservation and Magic Reservoir. Henry’s Lake is a legendary big trout fishery for those willing to make the five-hour trek.
Ponds: Catching trout in ponds follows a similar blueprint to lakes, but on a smaller scale. The trout are more active, and there are more of them thanks to aggressive stocking. Some ponds are even planted with “brood stock” trout, adult fish that are much larger than typical hatchery fish. The Treasure Valley is loaded with ponds, from Boise and Meridian to Caldwell, Middleton and everywhere in between. A full list of stocked ponds is available on the Fish & Game website.
The mild fall weather won’t last forever, so get in on some fall trout action while you can still feel your fingers out there.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at outdoors@idahostatesman .com.