Every Monday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Salmon & Clearwater rivers (Steelhead)
Fall steelhead fishing has hit its stride over the past few weeks. Overall, the numbers are down about 50 percent compared to last year’s runs, but November harvest reports continue to look good. The telltale “hours per fish caught” meter is even sneaking into single digits along some stretches of the Salmon and Clearwater. I’ve been hearing some really good first-hand reports from the Salmon River, in particular. Get out there while the fish are still here in good numbers! Plugs seem to be the most popular lures, followed by jigs, streamers and roe. Back-trolling and using side planers can be deadly for plug fishing, once you get your technique dialed in. Fall steelhead season remains open through Dec. 31.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of salmon and steelhead fish counts, season information, rules, and the latest harvest reports.
Owyhee River (Trout)
The browns are still biting out on the Owyhee. According to one report from a trusted fly-fishing expert, you can see some big males hanging out beneath spawning beds, waiting to gobble up floating eggs as they drift past. So tie on an egg pattern and hold on tight! Standard Owyhee patterns such as tricos, BWOs, mayfly nymphs and streamers are also effective at times. Traditional anglers can also fish the Owyhee using spinners, spoons and other minnow-imitating lures. Barbless hooks are recommended, as all brown trout are catch-and-release only. Get one last trip out of your 2016 Oregon license, or buy a day license and catch the tail end of the fall season!
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Brownlee Reservoir (Crappie)
It’s getting chilly out on the lake, but the crappie are willing to bite as long as you’re willing to bundle up and fish for them. There are some big schools hanging out anywhere from 10 to 50 feet down — slow-troll around coves and rocky points, and wait for your fish finder to light up like a Christmas tree. When it does, tie on some brightly colored panfish jigs and you should catch some crappie. Fishing for bass and catfish has slowed down, but they are still in there. Slow-fishing jigs and soft plastics will usually pick up a couple of bass, and catfish have a hard time resisting a nice piece of cut bait. There’s something extra warm and crispy about a crappie fry after a cold day on the water, so bring home a stringer full of fish and enjoy!
Getting there: Take I-84 west and access the lake through Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.
Boise River and Treasure Valley Ponds (Trout)
The days are getting pretty short, so it’s tough to get out to some of our favorite fishing holes this time of year. But the Boise River and local ponds provide several reliable options within minutes of home, and both are fishing well for trout right now. You don’t have to get fancy, either — tossing a spinner, floating some bait or drifting a bead-head nymph are tried-and-true methods for rainbows on the Boise River, and you might bump into a big brown or whitefish, too. In ponds, try a Panther Martin, or toss out some Power Bait fished near the bottom. Or, better yet, double your odds and fish one of each! A two-pole permit is an inexpensive investment, and it’s perfect for trying to fill a limit of stocked trout.
Getting there: Fish and Game stocks trout between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge, as well as in 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.