Local ponds (trout)
I’ll offer both a report and a warning on local ponds. First, the warning: Some Treasure Valley ponds freeze over during the winter, and more than usual have this year thanks to the Christmas cold snap. But the ice seldom gets thick enough to be safe for ice fishing. I recommend the Boise River if you’re looking for a quick fix or making a day trip to Cascade or Magic Reservoir if you’re itching to try ice fishing. It’s not worth falling through and having to be rescued. On the flip side, I’ve seen some good reports for stocked rainbows on ponds that aren’t frozen or at least have some open water beyond the shoreline. Simple baits such as worms, marshmallows and PowerBait are your best bets.
Getting there: Fish and Game stocks fish virtually year-round throughout the Treasure Valley. Ponds are available in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Middleton and nearly everywhere in between.
Clearwater River (steelhead)
The spring season is off to a good start, with anglers reporting catch rates between 7 and 10 hours per fish on the Clearwater. It’s cold, so try fishing during the afternoon hours to stay warm. You may have to navigate around frozen shorelines and/or floating ice and slush, but anglers have found enough open water to catch fish using roe, colorful jigs and yarn, plugs and streamers. Make sure to purchase your 2016 salmon/steelhead permit before you go.
Getting there: Check the Idaho Fish and Game website for a list of steelhead seasons and rules.
Lake Cascade (perch, trout)
The lake is covered by a solid layer of ice, and lots of anglers are trying their luck. Perch action has been spotty of late, but there are some nice ones if you can find them. There’s always a chance a big trout could cruise by, too, though those are fewer and farther between than the schooling perch. There’s a lot of snow in Cascade, which can make fishing access difficult without a snowmobile. Call ahead or check the Tackle Tom’s Facebook page for the latest weather conditions and fishing reports.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north through Cascade and follow the turnoff signs to sportsman access areas.
Magic Reservoir (perch, trout)
Anglers are catching some nice rainbows and a handful of mid-sized perch. The trout bite can be slow at times, but almost all of the rainbows being caught are keeper-sized. Live worms, mealworms, marshmallows, PowerBait, cut bait and lures such as ice flies, Hali Jigs and Swedish Pimples are good offerings. Call West Magic, 208-487-2571, for the latest updates.
Getting there: Take I-84 east past Mountain Home. Take Exit 141 and follow U.S. 26 and Idaho 75 northeast to West Magic Resort.