Idaho Outdoors fish rap (Feb. 10): Bring on the early spring bite

Shhhhh! I don’t want to whisper this too loud and jinx it, but it looks like we might be in for an early spring. That means, of course, that it’s time to clear the weekend calendar for fishing.

Our good friend Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow last week, and early indications are he was right on the money. Treasure Valley forecasts call for temperatures in the 50s, which is incredible weather for early February.

Early spring fishing options abound in Southwest Idaho. February is traditionally the kickoff of crappie season, and with weather like this, they should be on the bite in places such as Brownlee, C.J. Strike and Paddock reservoirs. The bluegill won’t be far behind — in fact, I’ve heard a few good reports on ’gills in the C.J. Strike/Bruneau area.

Trout fishing has been steady all winter, and nicer weather will make it more comfortable on the river. Pay attention to rising river currents, but apart from occasional muddy runoff, flows shouldn’t be an issue for at least a few more weeks.

Local ponds have been fishing well of late, with anglers catching lots of planted rainbows, including some monster brood stock in excess of 20 inches. February is a big stocking month for Idaho Fish and Game, so the good times should continue to roll. Warmwater species will make at least a few cameo appearances for pond anglers, too.

And then there are bass. A few dedicated anglers have caught largemouth and smallmouth already by slow-working jigs and soft plastics along the Snake River. The bite will pick up as the water warms, and I couldn’t be more excited.

My first serious bass trip of 2015 came on March 27. We caught a handful of smallmouth, including a 3-pound bruiser. It was so much fun we went back the next day.

By the looks of things, my first green fish of 2016 will make an even earlier appearance, which bodes well for early-season action at Lake Lowell, Ben Ross Reservoir, local ponds and other favorite bass fisheries.

As balmy temperatures send our minds racing with the promise of early spring, there’s still plenty of cold-water fun to be had. There’s enough ice to try hard-water destinations such as Lake Cascade, Payette Lake and Magic Reservoir.

While it hasn’t been a dynamite year for ice anglers, the biggest perch of the year often come just before ice-out.

Anglers also are having a successful spring steelhead season on the Salmon, Snake and Clearwater rivers. The possibilities are endless.

In fishing, as in life, it’s important to not overreact too much to the circumstances around us. But when that thermostat hits 50, it’s virtually impossible to ignore the itch to “spring” into action.

Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at

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