Every Monday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
SNAKE, SALMON, CLEARWATER AND COLUMBIA RIVERS (CHINOOK SALMON, STEELHEAD)
Fall chinook season closed Monday, Oct. 31, on the Clearwater River, Salmon River and in the Snake River, except the section from Cliff Mountain Rapids upstream to Hells Canyon Dam, which closes Nov. 17. Through Oct. 23, anglers had kept 424 adult salmon and 200 jacks, with a statewide average of 94 hours per fish caught. It was a down year overall, with less than half as many chinook crossing Bonneville Dam compared to 2015. Steelhead fishing, on the other hand, picked up through mid-to-late October, with catch rates averaging 11 hours per fish on the Snake below the Salmon River, 3 hours per fish on the Clearwater, and 20 hours per fish on the Salmon River from North Fork to the Lemhi River, according to a recent Idaho Fish & Game news release. Fall steelhead season is open through Dec. 31. Like chinook, steelhead numbers are down considerably from last year, but persistent anglers are still catching fish with roe, plugs, jigs, streamers and spoons. No word yet on whether steelhead will be stocked in the Boise River.
▪ 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.
C.J. STRIKE RESERVOIR (MIXED BAG)
C.J. Strike has been producing all season, and anglers continue to catch a variety of species even as the calendar turns to November. Last week alone, I heard good reports on perch, rainbow trout and bass. Trout fishing will continue to produce through the cold months — troll spinners or Rapalas from a boat, or bank fish with worms and Power Bait. Perch are still hitting jigs, worms and cut bait in 10-to-30 feet of water. You might also bump into a bluegill or crappie. And bass are still taking crankbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits and soft plastics. As the water cools, slow your retrieve to attract more bites. The best bass fishing is behind us for 2016, but you can still catch a green fish with the right presentation.
▪ Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Mountain Home and head south.
LOCAL PONDS (MIXED BAG)
Fish & Game will release 19,000 trout into Treasure Valley waters during the month of November, and most of those fish are destined for ponds. Some of the bigger stockings are scheduled for Wilson Springs Pond in Nampa, Horseshoe Bend Mill Pond, Sawyer’s Pond in Emmett, the Caldwell Rotary Ponds and Kleiner Pond in Meridian. In addition, a brand new pond will open for fishing this Wednesday, Nov. 2, as the City of Boise introduces Esthers Pond, part of the new Esther Simplot Park off Whitewater Park Boulevard. More than 1,000 rainbow trout will be stocked during opening week, with a second stocking scheduled for late November. Fish & Game stocked bluegill in Esthers Pond earlier this year, and largemouth bass will go in next spring. Spinners, spoons, Rapalas, flies, worms, marshmallows, Power Bait and salmon eggs are popular offerings for trout in ponds. Bring your bass and panfish tackle, too, as many ponds are home to largemouth bass, bluegill and/or crappie.
▪ Getting there: Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Middleton and Caldwell.
HORSETHIEF RESERVOIR (TROUT)
Horsethief has been fishing really well all year, with anglers reporting great catch rates and some decent-sized fish, considering they were all stocked this year. It’s nice to see the lake bounce back so quickly after last year’s draining to eradicate invasive bullheads. The water is too low to launch a boat right now, so most anglers are fishing from the bank with Power Bait, worms or spinners. Horsethief is a scenic place to fish, and the steady action makes it a good family fishing destination. You could still launch a canoe, small rowboat or float tube, if you wanted to get off the bank. Warm Lake is also fishing well this fall, with similar catch rates to Horsethief. Warm also has brook trout thrown into the mix, and it’s more boat-friendly this time of year.
▪ Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade and turn right on Warm Lake Road. Drive 8 miles in to Horsethief, or 26 miles to reach Warm Lake.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.