Outdoors Blog

Saturday is Youth Ice Fishing Day at Horsethief (fishing report, Jan. 9)

Swim jigs.
Swim jigs. 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.

Youth Ice Fishing Day

Idaho Youth Outdoors is set to hold its eighth annual Youth Ice Fishing Day this Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Horsethief Reservoir. Fish and Game officials and vendors will be on hand supplying equipment, instruction and supplies, including free hot chocolate, water and hotdogs for the kids. Anglers are encouraged to dress warmly and bring their own chairs, snacks and fishing equipment (Fish and Game will have loaner rods, bait and tackle on hand, while supplies last). This is a free, educational event, and a fishing license is NOT required to fish during the event. Horsethief is sure to be crowded throughout the day with organizers, vendors and participants coming and going. People are encouraged to carpool, and serious anglers might want to head elsewhere this Saturday to avoid the crowds. For more information, email idahoyouthoutdoors@gmail.com.

Fly Fishing Expo

The Boise Valley Fly Fishers will hold the 13th annual Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo on Friday and Saturday at Expo Idaho. More info here.

Lake Cascade (Ice Fishing)

Cascade is coming off its most productive weekend of the season, with anglers enjoying some great days on keeper-sized perch, including a few jumbos. Jigs tipped with a piece of mealworm, night crawler or cut bait are the way to go, and many anglers seem to prefer perch-colored jigs (perch, like most fish species, are highly cannibalistic). The best fishing has been at the north end, with access available at Poison Creek and Boulder Creek. Blue Heron on the south end is also accessible, and anglers have been getting out to Sugarloaf Island via snowmobile. Slushy conditions made for tough sledding before the New Year, and those conditions may return with warmer temperatures in the forecast for the early part of this week. It looks like it will cool down heading into the weekend, though, which should help. Trout fishing also has been good at Cascade, and I recently heard a great report from Horsethief Reservoir. The road into Horsethief is finally plowed, and action there can be fast and furious once the fish turn on.

Getting there: Cascade and Horsethief are located north of Boise up Idaho 55. For the latest conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.

[Related: You can catch sturgeon through the ice near Parma]

Warm Lake (Ice Fishing)

I got my first report from Warm Lake this week, and folks are starting to pick up some rainbow and brook trout on worms and marshmallows. The ice is 12 inches thick out to 150 yards from shore, but no one had been out on the middle of the lake as of last Wednesday. There’s also a pile of snow on top of the ice, so a shovel might be helpful. Kokanee salmon are another possible catch at Warm Lake, and it’s also one of the only places around to fish for giant Mackinaw trout. The lodge hadn’t seen any big Macks as of last week, but it’s only a matter of time. Make a trip out there, and maybe you’ll be the first! Fish deeper with spoons and minnow-imitating jigs for mackinaws. Kokanee tend to prefer smaller jigs tipped with shoepeg corn.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade and turn east onto Warm Lake Road. The lake is located 26 miles from the turn-off. For the latest conditions and fishing reports, call the North Shore Lodge at (208) 632-2000.

Boise River (Trout, Whitefish)

For those willing to brave the cold and snow, there is good fishing to be had on the Boise River. Wintertime flows are angler-friendly, and I’ve seen some nice rainbows, a few browns and lots of whitefish being caught by both fly and spin anglers. Small nymphs or streamer patterns are the way to go for fly fishermen. Spinners, spoons, worms, marshmallows or Power Bait will catch fish if you are spin-fishing. Be sure to bundle up and avoid wet feet at all costs. Neoprene waders are recommended, even if you don’t plan on wading — they will help you stay dry while stomping through the ice and snow.

Getting there: Fish are biting just about anywhere you can access the river. The stretch between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge has lots of stocked fish and plenty of access points.


Swim Jigs: Swim jigs are perhaps the simplest ice fishing lure available. They come in a wide variety of sizes, styles and colors, but all are meant to do the same thing — mimic a struggling baitfish. Simply jig them up and down in the water column, and set the hook when you feel a bump. Swim jigs are often used in combination with bait, which can serve as an extra attractant. Using jigs is also an easy way to get your bait down toward the bottom and add a little color while fishing with worms, marshmallows, mealworms, cut bait or dead minnows. White, orange, yellow, silver and perch pattern are some of the most popular colors here in Idaho. In the photo, the top two are white/orange and perch-colored swim jigs, and the bottom is a homemade lime green jig. When fishing for larger species like Mackinaw trout or walleye, upsize your jigs to something 2-to-4 inches long. Smaller sizes like the 1/16 and 1/8 ounce jigs pictured are ideal for perch in local waters. Swim jigs won’t hurt your pocketbook, either — a small multipack typically costs just a few bucks.

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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