Boise River (trout)
The rainbows are really biting on the Boise River. I’ve seen and heard lots of good reports from anglers fishing the Boise all the way through town, and I caught a quick limit of hatchery fish last weekend at one of my favorite spots. The water levels are fishing-friendly right now. Waders or even boots will put you right on top of the good holes. Small spinners like Panther Martins, live worms and marshmallows or flies are effective. Some fly anglers like to fish a dry fly on top with a nymph trailing sub-surface. Get out and enjoy the fall fishing and scenery while it lasts.
Getting there: Trout are stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.
Henry’s Lake and the South Fork Snake River (trout)
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Eastern Idaho is home to some of my old stomping grounds, and the fall trout fishing is outstanding. Check the weather before you make the four-plus hour trek, but if you hit in on a calm, mild day, be ready to burn up your drag. Henry’s Lake and the South Fork are two of many popular options in the region. They offer a different look than the Boise River, as you’ll catch primarily cutthroat and brown trout. Presentations are different, too. A lot of anglers like to drift the river and throw Rapalas or big streamers like Mickey Finns. Worms and salmon eggs work great, too. Henry’s Lake — known to produce monster brook trout and rainbow-cutthroat hybrids in excess of 10 pounds — is popular with trollers and bank anglers alike. Big spinners and bait rigs work best. Note: Cutthroat trout must be released in the South Fork. The limit is two browns in the river and two total trout at Henry’s.
Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Idaho Falls. Henry’s Lake is another 90 minutes north on the way to West Yellowstone, while the South Fork can be accessed near Swan Valley, Rigby and Ririe.
Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers (steelhead)
More than 250,000 steelhead have passed over the Bonneville Dam, with another 118,000 over the Lower Granite Dam according to the latest fish counts. The water is clear and running at about 50 degrees in most stretches of all three steelhead fisheries, with anglers averaging anywhere from eight to 15 hours per fish caught in the more productive areas. Hit up your favorite steelhead spots or explore new ones armed with streamers, jigs, plugs, yarn and roe. Only fish with a clipped adipose fin may be kept. Watch out for big fall-run chinook, too
Getting there: Check the Idaho Fish and Game website for a detailed list of river seasons and rules.
Brownlee Reservoir and C.J. Strike Reservoir (mixed bag)
Dedicated bass and catfish anglers are still catching fish in the Snake River drainage. I’ve seen reports of some nice smallmouth caught at C.J., big channel and flatheads at Brownlee and even some decent stringers of perch and crappie. Trout fishing is picking up at C.J. Strike, with bank fishermen and trollers catching some quality rainbows. If the bass bite is slow, try slowing down your presentation or change gears and try for panfish or trout.
Getting there: Head northwest past Weiser to get to Brownlee or east toward Mountain Home/Bruneau to check out C.J. Strike.