Every Monday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Boise River (Trout)
You don’t have to travel far to catch fish right now. The Boise River has been hot throughout September, and there’s no reason October shouldn’t be as good or better. Anglers have been picking up both wild and hatchery rainbows along the urban stretch all the way up to the Lucky Peak dam, with a few brown trout mixed in, especially farther west toward Meridian, Eagle and Star. The usual assortment of spinners, spoons, Rapalas, worms, Power Bait and marshmallows are all getting the job done in deep pools, current seams and riffles. Fly-fishermen are doing most of their damage below the surface with streamers or caddis, mayfly and midge nymphs. Small dry flies such as midges or elk hair caddis might pick up a couple fish early or late in the day. As always, I recommend releasing the bigger, native fish, especially browns, which are entering their spawning phase.
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks hatchery rainbows between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.
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Lake Cascade (Mixed Bag)
Fall fishing has been really good at Cascade, with anglers catching perch, rainbow trout and smallmouth bass. Perch fishing at Cascade is about quality over quantity — don’t expect the 50-plus-fish days you might see on C.J. Strike, but catching 10-20 big fish is possible. Jigs tipped with bait or small crankbaits are the ticket. Trout action has been picking up, so much so that many perch anglers are inadvertently catching rainbows. Floating a worm/marshmallow combo from shore or trolling with Rapalas, spinners or bait-tipped wedding rings are the best bets for trout. Bass are still active along rocky shorelines, and crankbaits, jerk baits and jigs are the best smallmouth lures. The water levels continue to drop, with Blue Heron remaining the best bet for launching boats. If you’re headed up to the Cascade area, Warm Lake (trolling for trout) and Horsethief Reservoir (bank fishing for trout) also have been fishing well.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers (Chinook Salmon, Steelhead)
The best fishing should occur over the next couple weeks, but fish counts at Bonneville and Lower Granite Dam are well below last year’s numbers and the five-year averages. According to the Fish & Game website, Chinook anglers are putting in 34 hours per fish caught and more than 138 hours per fish kept, with unclipped natives outnumbering hatchery keepers nearly 3-to-1. Action has been better on the Snake than the Clearwater. Idaho’s fall steelhead run is just about to begin in earnest, although anglers have picked up some early fish on the Clearwater and Snake, and I’ve heard reports of a few fish in the Salmon near Riggins. Tackle-wise, spoons, streamers, neon-colored hair jigs, plugs, roe and tuna balls are good options for both species.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of salmon and steelhead fish counts, season information, rules and the latest harvest reports.
Local Ponds (Trout)
I usually don’t include the same bodies of water two weeks in a row, but fishing in local ponds has been too hot to ignore. Trout really get active when the water cools down, and it’s still warm enough to get some bass and panfish action, too. For whatever reason, people seem to be catching more of the big, brood stock rainbows than usual right now, and there are Palomino rainbows (not to be confused with golden trout) in some ponds as well. The best trout bait seems to be a worm paired with a marshmallow or Power Bait, but they’ll gobble up spinners, flies, corn, salmon eggs, Rapalas or spoons as well. Toss some bass and panfish gear in your tackle box, just in case. Or, if you have a two-pole permit, set up a stationary rod with some trout bait and throw lures with the other rod to increase your chances.
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.