Outdoors Blog

Try Payette River for trout; check out our lure of the week (fishing report, Dec. 5)

Our new feature in the weekly fishing report will highlight a lure of the week. Here’s the Panther Martin.
Our new feature in the weekly fishing report will highlight a lure of the week. Here’s the Panther Martin. Special to the Idaho Statesman

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 (Trout)

I’ve seen some good reports from trout anglers on the Payette River over the past couple of weeks. Fall and winter are good times to fish the Payette, which runs high and has a lot of raft traffic during the summer months. Rainbow trout are the dominant species, and there are some nice ones. As always, I recommend releasing big, wild fish (look for full fins with white tips) and taking home some pan-sized planted trout for dinner. Spinners, spoons, flies and bait are all good options on the Payette. Check out this week’s Lure of the Week for one suggestion. Also, with single-digit lows in the forecast this week, there could be some floating ice on the river. That can pretty much ruin the fishing, so keep an eye on the weather, and fish farther south (near Horseshoe Bend) for the best chance at avoiding ice floes.

Getting there: Fish along Idaho 55 between Horseshoe Bend and McCall.

Lake Cascade, Horsethief Reservoir (Trout)

As of Friday, Cascade had some ice on the north end of the lake, though it’s not yet thick enough to be safe for ice fishing. Cold weather is in the forecast, though, so ice fishing season could soon be upon us. Bank anglers were still catching some nice trout with marshmallows, worms and other baits through Thanksgiving weekend. That’s still an option for those willing to brave the cold on the south end of the lake, but open-water fishing season is all but over for 2016. Horsethief Reservoir also is starting to freeze over — there’s a good chance it will host the first ice fishing of the season. Warm Lake and Payette Lake are also worth keeping an eye on if you are itching to bust out your ice fishing gear.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.

Boise River (Trout)

As you’ll read about Tuesday in the Fish Rap column, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the Boise River. Late fall fishing has been good for rainbow trout, brown trout and whitefish on several stretches of the river, and there are a few holdover steelhead still swimming around, too. I haven’t had much time to get out fishing lately, but when I have, a few quick trips to the Boise have been highly productive. Panther Martin spinners, bead-head nymphs and good old-fashioned night crawlers are all reliable options. Drift or swing your lures, flies or bait through riffles and into deep, slow pockets and holes. Neoprene waders are recommended — it can be awfully cold if you get your feet wet this time of year.

Getting there: Idaho Fish and Game stocks trout all along the river, including regular stocking points in town between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.

Lure of the Week

Panther Martin: Spinners are a staple in any angler’s tackle box, and the Panther Martin has always been my favorite model. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and it’s a versatile lure that can be used in lots of different situations. Most people think of spinners as a cast-and-retrieve lure — and that is the most common application — but don’t be afraid to experiment with different cadences. In deep water (where it’s less likely to get snagged on the bottom), I like to “kill” the spinner and let it flutter downward for a few seconds. Fish often hit it on its way down, or as soon as I start reeling again. I’ve even caught trout while vertical jigging a Panther Martin directly below my float tube in an alpine lake. In current, you want to keep the lure moving so it doesn’t get snagged. Usually, you want to “swim” the lure upstream, but sometimes it pays off to bring it straight across the current or even reel it downstream. Panther Martins come in six sizes —1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 15. Size 1 is the smallest at 1/32 ounce, while 15 is the largest at ½ ounce. Pictured are a size 6 (1/4 ounce, my favorite size) and a size 15 in two popular colors. I usually use Panther Martins while targeting trout, but I’ve also caught bass, panfish and pikeminnow on them. They are available in most sporting goods shops for $3-$6 apiece.

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

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