Outdoors Blog

If you’re eager to start river fishing, the Snake is ready (fishing report, May 19)

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 (Bass)

The river-fishing crowd must be getting antsy with all this flooding, but here’s some good news: The Snake River is fishable, and better yet, it’s really starting to turn on. I’ve seen some great-looking smallmouth bass and channel catfish getting caught up and down the river, from Swan Falls Dam to Marsing all the way out to Brownlee Reservoir. Crankbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits and flies are productive bass lures — try anything that resembles a small fish or crayfish. Worms, crickets and cut bait are money for catfish, which like to hold near the bottom of rocky channels or behind big boulders. Be careful boating or wading, because the flows are still pretty high. But if you find some slow-moving, accessible water, you should get on some fish.

Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike Reservoir and Brownlee Reservoir.

Owyhee Reservoir (Crappie, Bass)

Crappie fishing is going absolutely nuts at Owyhee right now. Most schools of fish are in the 10-to-12-inch keeper range, with a shot at some 14-inch slabs if you get lucky. I’m seeing lots of great hauls from anglers — it’s common to catch 100 fish or more if you get on top of a big school. Throw small, brightly colored jigs. Both the tube and minnow style are effective, and tying two or three on one line can produce some fun double-ups. From a boat, use the finder to locate schools in 10 to 40 feet of water. From shore, look for coves where the water drops off quickly and use a slip bobber to get your lure down in front of the fish. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish and trout are also possible catches at Owyhee, even when you are fishing for crappie. Tie a strong knot!

Getting there: Cross over into eastern Oregon and follow the Owyhee River upstream past the dam to access the reservoir boat launches. Don’t forget your Oregon license.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir (Walleye, Trout)

The water is high, but the fish don’t seem to mind at Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir near the Idaho-Nevada border. It’s one of the few places in the Gem State to fish for toothy, delicious walleye, and I’ve seen some decent reports from walleye anglers. There’s a tournament there this weekend, but it’s such a large lake that there should be room for everyone. Crawler harnesses fished with worms, crankbaits, jerk baits and jigs fished in and around cover or off rocky drop-offs are the ticket. The trout bite also has been on, with anglers picking up some nice rainbows on spinners, trolling rigs and bait. Smallmouth bass and perch also reside in Salmon Falls. Take the trip east to check it out — it’s within shouting distance of Jackpot, Nev., if you want to make a weekend of it.

Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Twin Falls and then follow U.S. 93 south toward the Nevada border. From Boise, it’s about a two-and- a-half-hour drive, just a few minutes shy of Jackpot.

Lake Lowell (Bass)

It sounds like things might finally be picking up at Lowell. The fish should be spawning, so some of the biggest fish in the lake will be in the shallows for the next couple of weeks. I got a firsthand report from the Boise Bass Busters tournament at Lowell last weekend, and while the size wasn’t stellar, catch rates were much higher than they were during the season-opening tournament on April 15. Working spinnerbaits around submerged cover or flipping jigs and plastics deep in the flooded trees are the most productive fishing methods. If you don’t have a boat, try launching a float tube or wading into the trees from the south bank.

Getting there: Head south from Nampa or 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.

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