Boise River (trout, steelhead)
Anglers are still catching plenty of trout and a few holdover steelhead on the Boise River. Temperatures appear to be returning to more seasonal norms after an early cold snap, so fishing conditions should be pretty good. The usual assortment of flies, spinners, worms, marshmallows and Power Bait should do the trick. One fun anecdote: Big trout, rainbows and browns, will forage on the Boise River’s abundant crayfish population. Try fishing in deep, rocky pools with crayfish-patterned lures and flies. Some guys also like to catch live crayfish and use the tail meat as bait. You probably won’t catch a ton of fish, but those you do hook are likely to be big.
Getting there: Rainbow trout and steelhead are stocked between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.
Lake Cascade (perch, trout)
Ice fishing is in full swing at Lake Cascade, with 8 inches of ice on the north end near Poison Creek and Boulder Creek, 5 inches on the south end near Blue Heron and 4 inches near Sugar Loaf Island. Anglers are landing nice perch and a few trout. Traditional ice fishing gear such as jigs and spoons tipped with worms, marshmallows and cutbait will do the trick. Experiment with different depths and locations until you find the fish. The ice could be a bit slushy on top, and warmer temperatures might thin the freeze beyond desirable fishing levels, so be safe out there and call ahead for the latest information. Tackle Tom’s is a great telephone resource, and owner Tom McGlashen has begun posting ice updates to the Tackle Tom’s Facebook page.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade and follow the turnoff signs to sportsman access areas.
Note: I haven’t been able to get an ice report from anywhere by Lake Cascade thus far. There are lots of ice fishing destinations nearby — Magic Reservoir, Mann Creek Reservoir, Warm Lake, C.J. Strike and Salmon Falls Reservoir, to name a few. If you have an ice and/or fishing report, share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Ponds (trout)
With unpredictable winter conditions, it’s better to stay close to home. Case in point — I recently wasted a trip to the Payette River, which was semi-frozen and clogged with floating ice and slush. Local ponds are usually a reliable bet, however, and anglers have been catching some nice trout at places like Wilson Springs in Nampa. Spinners, flies, Rapalas and baits like marshmallows and worms will catch fish.
Getting there: Ponds are available from Boise to Middleton and everywhere in between