Outdoors Blog

Hagerman Ponds are loaded with fish — and anglers (fishing report, March 17)

Anglers are finding success at the Hagerman Ponds.
Anglers are finding success at the Hagerman Ponds. Special to the Idaho Statesman

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

The weather is getting nicer, but water conditions continue to challenge anglers across the Treasure Valley. Here are a few places where people are having some luck:

[Related: Don’t miss our series of stories on Idaho’s ‘river monsters’]

Hagerman Ponds (Trout)

The trout are biting in Hagerman, and there are some big ones! Most of the hatchery ponds opened on March 1, and they are loaded with stocked rainbow trout, including some of the Palomino “banana” variety and a handful of monster brood stock adults. I was there last weekend, and folks were catching fish on spinners, spoons, worms, Power Bait and marshmallows. Get there early or bring a canoe, raft or kayak, because bank space fills up fast.

Getting there: Head east on I-84, take Exit 147, head south and follow the signs to the hatchery.

Lucky Peak Reservoir (Kokanee, Trout)

I’m still hearing good things from anglers at Lucky Peak. The trolling crowd is catching kokanee on hoochies, wedding rings and the usual assortment of pop gear tipped with shoepeg corn. The fish are fairly shallow right now, so fish the top 15 feet of the water column. Trout can also be caught trolling pop gear or spinners, but bank anglers also can get in on the action with the old worm and marshmallow combo, or some Power Bait. The ice is stubbornly holding on at Arrowrock, so for now, Lucky Peak is the place to be for kokanee.

Getting there: From Boise, take Warm Springs Avenue or Idaho 21 northeast to Lucky Peak.

Snake River (Bass, Catfish)

The river is high and murky, but a few diehard anglers are enticing some early season bass and catfish. Fish extra slow with crankbaits, jigs or soft plastics for bass, targeting fish suspended near the bottom or active cruisers exploring shallow structure on warm afternoons. Don’t expect to catch a ton of fish, but if you put in the work, you should find a couple. Early spring often yields some of the biggest fish of the year, too. For catfish, use worms or fresh cut bait in deep eddies and pools. Adding scent to your bait can help fish find it through the murk.

Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee reservoirs. I’ve heard a few good reports from the Homedale area.

Clearwater and Salmon Rivers (Steelhead)

Fishing remains steady on the Clearwater River. Depending on the stretch of river, anglers were averaging 2 to 10 hours per fish caught, according to the latest harvest report. Those are great catch rates, and the fish have had good size this spring. Plugs and jig-and-bobber rigs seem to be the most popular, but roe, streamers and yarn also can entice a bite. Anglers are starting to fish the Salmon River for steelhead, but catch rates there have been really low so far. In addition, the Forest Service sent out notice that Mormon Bend and Salmon River campgrounds — popular steelhead fishing camps near Stanley — are still completely snowed under. Anglers are encouraged to find lodging in town, or contact the BLM office in Salmon at (208) 756-5400 for available campgrounds.

Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of steelhead counts, special seasons and rules, and the latest harvest reports.

Lure of the Week: Rebel Crayfish

Crayfish are a popular menu item for many large gamefish, so using a lure that looks like one is usually a good idea. One of my favorite crayfish lures is made by Rebel — it has a realistic design, good wobble and a wide variety of color patterns. There are two ways to fish a Rebel Crayfish. Most commonly, the angler casts it out and retrieves using a series of jerks and pauses to imitate the natural locomotion of a fleeing crayfish. Alternatively, you can slowly reel it through rocks and other shoreline cover to mimic a crawling, on-the-hunt crayfish. The second method works better from a boat, as you won’t lose as many lures to snags. Crayfish are particularly deadly on smallmouth bass, but I’ve also seen them catch largemouth bass, catfish and even trout. The lure comes in four sizes and nine colors — shown here is a fairly standard 2-inch model in the stream crayfish color. They typically cost about $5.

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