Outdoors Blog

Fishing picks up at C.J. Strike; Howdy’s derby is this week (fishing report, April 28)

Kids and adults compete for prizes at the Howdy’s Gas and Grub Fishing Derby.
Kids and adults compete for prizes at the Howdy’s Gas and Grub Fishing Derby. Courtesy of Howdy’s

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

C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

The water is stained, but fishing has been good for all kinds of species at C.J. Strike when the wind and weather cooperate. I’ve seen nice stringers of trout, usually caught near the dam on worms, marshmallows or Power Bait. I’ve seen some nice crappie and perch hauls, often caught on small jigs near drop-offs in the narrows. And while bass fishing has yet to take off, anglers who put in the work have been picking up both largemouth and smallmouth on jigs, soft plastics and crankbaits. The boat ramps are open and the water temperature is rising, making C.J. Strike one of the top destinations in this wetter- and colder-than-usual spring.

Getting there: Head east on I-84 to Mountain Home and drive south through Bruneau or Grandview.

Brownlee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

Another popular multi-species option, Brownlee has been especially good for catfish in recent weeks. Both channel cats and flatheads are hitting on cut bait, worms and deep-diving crankbaits — and you can catch them from shore, an added bonus as low water conditions in Brownlee make launching a boat very difficult. Make sure you use strong tackle if you plan on tangling with catfish, especially a flathead — they can reach sizes of up to 40 pounds! Brownlee also has good crappie action for fish in the 10-inch range — target 25-plus feet of water with small panfish jigs. Perch also might grab a crappie jig. For bass, fish slowly, bumping the bottom with crankbaits and jigs or pitching soft plastics into submerged cover.

Getting there: Access Brownlee via Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.

Lucky Peak Reservoir (Kokanee)

Fishing has been a little bit hit-and-miss, with the reservoir running low and murky. The kokanee crowd is still having some success with the usual trolling gear — use a fish finder to see how deep the fish are schooling, and tip your lures with shoepeg corn to increase your odds. If the bluebacks aren’t cooperating, a few trout might jump on your trolling rigs, or you can work the shorelines using worms and marshmallows for trout or jigs and jerkbaits for smallmouth bass.

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

Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)

With the river scene blown out and Lake Lowell off to a slow start, I took my College of Idaho Community Learning fishing class to Simplot Pond last weekend. Despite some serious wind gusts, we had good luck catching rainbow trout on crankbaits, worms, marshmallows and Power Bait, and one of our group members landed a beautiful, 19-inch largemouth bass. I’ve also heard good reports from Parkcenter Pond in Boise, Kleiner Pond in Meridian, Wilson Springs Pond in Nampa and the Caldwell Rotary Pond. Thanks to the variety (ponds hold everything from bass and trout to bluegill and catfish), in-town convenience and relatively faster-warming water, ponds will remain one of the best bets for catching fish this spring.

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.

Howdy’s Gas and Grub Fishing Derby

The 23rd annual event is Saturday and Sunday at Lake Cascade. The entry fee is $8 and free for those 13 and under. Cash prizes totaling $900 will be awarded for the largest trout and stringer of three perch by weight for kids and adults. Registration is open through noon Sunday. For information, call Howdy’s at (208) 382-6712.