Outdoors Blog

Head north, or maybe way east, for ice fishing as temps warm (fishing report, Feb. 3)

Trout are biting through the ice at Warm Lake, C.J. Strike, Lake Cascade and eastern Idaho’s Chesterfield Reservoir.
Trout are biting through the ice at Warm Lake, C.J. Strike, Lake Cascade and eastern Idaho’s Chesterfield Reservoir. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Every Friday (note the new publication day), we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.

Warm Lake (Ice Fishing)

Warm Lake continues to fish well for rainbow trout, brook trout and the occasional kokanee salmon. According to the folks at North Shore Lodge, rainbows are averaging about 14 inches, with some 16-to-18-inch fish mixed in. Brookies are averaging 10 to 12 inches, with a few bigger ones out there, too. Fish are biting on worms, Power Bait and ice jigs. Remember, there’s also a shot at big Mackinaw trout in Warm Lake. Fish deeper with large spoons or tube jigs to target the big ones. The ice is in great shape, but there’s about a foot of snow on top. It’s best to shovel off the snow before you drill your holes. The road into the lodge has been widened and plowed, with two lanes available all the way to the lodge. With warmer temperatures in the forecast next week, heading north toward Warm Lake, Horsethief Reservoir and Lake Cascade might be the only ice fishing option available for a while.

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.

C.J. Strike Reservoir (Ice Fishing)

Fishing slowed from great to good last weekend, but catch rates were still above average. Perch continue to stack up in about 30 feet of water, and perch-colored lures tipped with night crawlers, mealworms or cut bait will usually catch at least a stringer full. Some days, the fish feed aggressively and threaten to pull unattended rods down through the ice. Other days, the bite is so subtle it will drive you crazy. But you’re almost guaranteed to get some bites if you fish in the right places. Cruising trout will also feed on perch-colored jigs, worms, marshmallows and Power Bait. They tend to be caught at shallower depths than perch. Crappie, bluegill and the occasional smallmouth bass are also coming through the ice. The three access points along the south bank — Cottonwood Park, Jack’s Creek and the Narrows — remain passable with four-wheel drive. Starting Friday, daytime temperatures are forecast to remain above freezing for a solid week, so keep a close eye on ice conditions. With a solid foot of ice built at C.J., fishing conditions should hold up through the weekend. But unless it gets cold again, the ice may not stay safe for much longer.

Getting there: Head east on I-84 to Mountain Home, then follow Highway 51 south to Bruneau and Highway 78 west along the south bank to reach the popular access points.

Chesterfield Reservoir (Ice Fishing)

Let’s mix things up with a little out-of-area action. Chesterfield is about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Boise, and as such would likely require an overnight stay. But based on some of the reports I’m seeing, it could be worth it! Chesterfield is a trout reservoir, with rainbows, cutthroats and browns all available. Most of the fish I’m seeing are rainbows. There are some absolute giants in the 5-pound range, and the lake is known to produce even bigger fish. Take along your usual assortment of trout fishing lures and baits, including Swedish Pimples, spoons, worms, corn, marshmallows and Power Bait. The trout limit is two fish per day at Chesterfield.

Getting there: Follow I-84 and I-86 east to Pocatello, then take I-15 south. Take Exit 47 and take Highway 30 and then Blaser Road north to the reservoir.

Lake Cascade (Ice Fishing)

Not much has changed at Cascade over the past month. Catch rates can be pretty hit-and-miss, but the giant perch and big rainbow trout keep the anglers coming back. There were some nice jumbo perch caught last weekend at the Hard Water Classic tournament, and the lake will likely be crowded with anglers again for the Perch Assault tournament Feb. 11-12. I’m hearing ice conditions have firmed up nicely, although warmer temperatures next week might mean more slush is on the horizon. Most of the action seems to be in 30-plus feet of water between Poison Creek and Sugarloaf Island. I’m not hearing much out of Horsethief, but the road is freshly plowed, and anglers should be able to manage at least a few pan-sized trout on most trips.

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

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