Every Monday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Payette River (Bass, Trout)
Fishing is hot on both stretches of the Payette River right now. For rainbow trout, fish the stretch that runs along Highway 55 between Horseshoe Bend and McCall. There are lots of places to pull off the side of the road and hike down to the water. The river is still running pretty high, but it’s slow enough to find deep pools and riffles to cast into. Spinners, spoons, Rapalas, flies and bait will catch fish. As always, I recommend keeping hatchery trout and releasing the big, wild rainbows to help sustain a healthy natural population. If you head farther west, the Payette turns into a great smallmouth bass fishery between Emmett and New Plymouth. September and October can be great months for catching some of the biggest fish of the year. Jigs, spinners, soft plastics, crankbaits, chunky fly patterns or a live worm are the ticket. Big channel catfish and pikeminnows are a possibility, too, especially for bait anglers.
Getting there: Fish between Horseshoe Bend and Cascade if you are targeting trout. There are lots of places to stop and hike down to the water along Highway 55. Fish farther west toward Emmett and New Plymouth if you are targeting bass.
Hagerman Fish Hatchery (Trout)
Fishing usually stays pretty steady throughout the summer months at the Hagerman Hatchery ponds, but the trout action should kick up another notch as the weather cools. There are a number of ponds and streams to fish within the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area — pay attention to the signage so you know what the rules are where you are fishing. Rainbow trout — including some huge brood stock and big Palomino “banana” trout — are the most common catch. They’re typically willing to take spinners, flies, spoons, live worms, marshmallows or Power Bait. Some ponds also have largemouth bass, bluegill and even sturgeon. There are lots of good fishing holes to explore around the Hagerman Valley, too, including some great stretches of the Snake River. The hatchery ponds close on Oct. 31, so make a weekend of it while you can. The area has several hot springs resorts that offer comfortable camping and swimming well into the fall.
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take Exit 147, head south and follow the signs to the hatchery.
Lucky Peak Reservoir (Trout)
Water levels continue to drop, but both boat and bank anglers are catching some nice trout out of Lucky Peak. Slow trolling with pop gear or spinners is a tried-and-true method, while bank anglers usually use Power Bait, worms, marshmallows or some combination thereof. Lucky Peak also has an often overlooked smallmouth bass population — try throwing crankbaits, tube jigs or suspending jerk baits for bass. Trout and bass anglers might also bump into a kokanee salmon or pikeminnow. Launching a boat takes more time and precision as the water recedes, but plenty of folks are still getting out on the water. If the fishing is slow, try nearby Arrowrock Reservoir or the Boise River below the dam.
Getting there: From Boise, take Warm Springs Avenue or Idaho 21 northeast to Lucky Peak. Continue past Lucky Peak to get to Arrowrock.
Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)
Pond fishing for trout is usually at its best this time of year, and Fish & Game continues to stock hundreds of pan-sized rainbows throughout the Treasure Valley. I’ve seen reports of nice limits being caught at a handful of ponds. Kleiner Pond in Meridian, Wilson Springs Pond in Nampa, the Caldwell Rotary Ponds and Parkcenter Pond in Boise are popular destinations. Bait is always a good way to go, especially if you’re fishing for the frying pan. The best offerings include worms, salmon eggs, flavored marshmallows and Power Bait. Spinners, spoons and Rapalas also catch fish, and if you can find some shoreline space, fly-fishing can be a rewarding option. Some ponds also hold largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie and perch, all of which should continue to bite until we see a serious cold front. Jigs, crankbaits, soft plastics, top-water plugs and bait are good offerings for bass and panfish. Tie a good knot in case a big catfish, carp or brood stock trout takes your bait!
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Middleton and Caldwell.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.