Steelhead fishing on Idaho’s Salmon River
Every Friday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Snake River (Catfish)
By and large, I’m recommending staying off the rivers, which continue to run high and fast. But on the Snake, there are some wider, slower sections where folks have been having luck, especially with channel catfish. If you do go, keep safety and accessibility in mind. Look for a solid section of bank near some calmer water, and keep your pets and kids clear of the river. Tackle-wise, catfish are hitting on worms, cut bait, shrimp, chicken livers and crankbaits. Fish in eddies, behind boulders and in other current breaks. You also might bump into a smallmouth bass, carp or pikeminnow if you are fishing with bait. Bring your bass tackle — on warm days, the smallmouth are starting to hit jigs, crankbaits and soft plastics. If you have a two-pole permit, throwing bass gear on one rod and letting catfish bait sit near the bottom on the other is a great way to increase your chances.
Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike Reservoir and Brownlee Reservoir. Swan Falls Dam, Map Rock and Celebration Park are popular access points.
Lake Cascade (Trout)
The perch bite has been pretty slow this spring, but I’m seeing lots of nice rainbow trout coming out of Cascade. Boat ramps are available for the trolling crowd, and the old worm-and-marshmallow setup fished on a slip sinker or slip bobber setup is hard to beat if you’re fishing from shore. Cascade is home to some pretty impressive rainbows — I’ve seen fish up to two feet long coming out of the lake, and spring is a great time to get after them. The water is still a bit cold for smallmouth, but you might find some overachievers by working a slow jig or crankbait around rocky structure. And the perch are bound to show up eventually. Targeting weed beds in 15 to 20 feet of water is a good strategy once they do.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Lake Lowell (Bass)
Lake Lowell is officially open for boats, and there’s no shortage of water. All three boat ramps are available, and there are tons of flooded trees and bushes around the edges for the bass to hide in. On the downside, water temperatures are still hovering right around 50, so the fish aren’t as active as usual for this time of year. But there were some nice fish caught at last weekend’s Boise Bass Busters Open Tournament, and fishing is sure to improve as the weather and water temps warm up. Spinnerbaits, soft plastic worms and creature baits, weedless jigs and crankbaits are go-to bass baits at Lowell — throw them as close to vegetation and cover as possible for the best results. Catfish and panfish are also plentiful at Lowell, so take along some live bait in case the bass aren’t biting. Remember, all bass are catch-and-release only through June 30!
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)
Stocked trout continue to be the most common catch in Treasure Valley ponds, but I’m seeing more bass show up every week, along with some bluegill and catfish. One of the things hurting early-season fishing is water clarity. Fishing with baits that attract fish by scent or lures that create noise and vibration in the water can intrigue fish that otherwise wouldn’t see your presentation. If you’re targeting bass and bluegill, try fishing in shallower areas that warm up more quickly when the sun is out. And if this spring’s tough fishing conditions have you itching just to feel a bite — any bite! — on the end of your line, a worm-and-Powerbait combo fished near the bottom is about as surefire as it gets for enticing a hatchery rainbow trout.
Getting there: Fish and Game stocks ponds throughout Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Middleton and Caldwell.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.