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.
LET’S GO FISHING
I’m teaching a fishing class through The College of Idaho’s Community Learning program this spring, and I’d love to have some readers participate. The course will be held from 6-8 p.m. on April 18 and 20 and also includes an 8 a.m.-to-noon fishing trip Saturday, April 22. The cost is $59, which includes eight hours of tips, tricks, instruction and more. Register today by calling 459-5188 or visiting cofifun.com.
LOCAL PONDS (TROUT)
It’s a tricky time of year for fishing, with ice still a part of many Treasure Valley lakes and ponds. But if you can find some open water, the trout should be on the bite as the weather warms up. I’ve seen good reports from a couple of ponds this week, including Wilson Springs Ponds in Nampa. Take along some spinners, worms, Power Bait and a handful of flies, in case you catch an insect hatch. Remember, ice fishing on ponds is not allowed (and at this point, the ice isn’t safe, anyway). It’s probably still a little early for bass and bluegill, but you might bump into an overachiever. I’m getting lots of questions about conditions at Lucky Peak as well. It’s day-to-day out there, but the ice is breaking up, which means shore fishing and even some boat launches could be available this weekend.
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Middleton and Caldwell.
BOISE RIVER (TROUT)
Again, conditions are touch-and-go right now, but as of this writing, we have fishable conditions on the Boise River. Water levels are up a little, but nothing too dramatic yet. And while run-off can make the water murky in places, it’s in good shape overall. Fish for rainbow trout in the deeper riffles and pools using spinners, spoons, bead-head nymphs, streamers, small dry flies or bait. Who knows? You might even bump into a big brown trout or a holdover hatchery steelhead. The water is chilly, so bundle up and wear your waders. And be prepared to change strategies and locations — a rain storm or release of water from Lucky Peak Dam could change the fishing conditions in a heartbeat.
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks hatchery rainbows between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.
LAKE CASCADE (ICE FISHING)
If you still want in on some late-season ice fishing, heading north is your best bet. Conditions firmed up nicely for last weekend’s Perch Assault Tournament, which produced some unbelievable stringers of perch. The winning team’s 10-fish limit weighed an incredible 19 pounds, averaging just shy of two pounds per fish. That’s unbelievable size, and it proves once again why Cascade is the place to go for monster perch. Having said that, the bite is often hard to come find. Fish finders are a big help, and anglers should come ready to stay mobile until they find some fish. Most anglers are focusing on the stretch of lake between Poison Creek boat launch and Sugarloaf Island. Snowmobiles can make life easier, but make sure you call ahead and get a report on the current slush conditions before you take a sled on the ice. Tackle-wise, perch-colored swim jigs, Chubby Darters and jigging Rapalas tipped with worms, mealworms or cut bait continue to produce the most perch. Fish shallower with Swedish Pimples, worms and marshmallows for rainbow trout.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. For the latest conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
LURE OF THE WEEK
Bead Head Nymph (scroll to the photo at the top of this post): We reach into the fly box for our latest lure of the week — the versatile and effective bead head nymph. This fly comes in hundreds of different variations, but all are meant to imitate underwater insect larvae. Like all nymphs, the bead head is meant to be fished subsurface, and the weight of the bead head ensures that it stays submerged. Some anglers like to trail a bead head underneath a dry fly or strike indicator, but they can also be fished solo. The weight of a bead head nymph makes it a good lure for new fly anglers to practice casting with. It’s also a deadly fish catcher, especially for trout. By making minor adjustments to match the forage, anglers can catch trout on bead head nymphs virtually year round, in almost any river, stream or creek. The prince nymph (pictured), pheasant tail nymphs, hare’s ear nymphs, Copper John’s and midge nymphs are classic standbys in Idaho waters. Bead head nymphs most commonly are used in sizes 8-16, and they cost anywhere from 50 cents to a couple of bucks apiece. Or, you can try tying your own.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.