Outdoors Blog

Bass fishing improves on Snake River, Lake Lowell (fishing report, June 9)

Snake River smallmouth bass.
Snake River smallmouth bass. 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.

Snake River (Bass, catfish)

Smallmouth fishing is really heating up on the Snake. Flows are manageable, water temperature has stabilized and the fish are eagerly feeding on crayfish and baitfish. A recent morning on the Snake near Swan Falls Dam yielded more than 25 bass for a fishing partner and me. Jigs, tubes and grubs were the ticket that day. I’ve also heard good reports from anglers using crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jerk baits. Live worms or dead minnows will also catch fish, of course, and fly anglers can hammer smallies using leeches, sculpins, streamers, woolly buggars and mouse patterns. The catfish bite has been steady as well, with anglers picking up channel cats and flatheads on worms, cut bait, chicken livers and shrimp. Look for shallower water near points, outcroppings and drop-offs for bass, and fish deep channels and eddies to target catfish.

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

Owyhee River (Trout)

Fly-fishermen are finally catching a break from all the flooding this month, as the water level has dropped to a friendly 300 cfs on the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon. Bug hatches haven’t gotten too heavy yet, but anglers are picking up brown and rainbow trout on black caddis, callibaetis, caddis pupa and ant patterns. Streamers, leeches and mice also will work, especially for big brown trout early or late in the day. Traditional anglers also can fish the Owyhee with spinners, Rapalas and spoons — just remember, all brown trout are catch-and-release, and an Oregon license is required. If you want to make a full weekend of it, crappie and bass fishing has been hot on Owyhee Reservoir above the dam.

Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.

Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers (Chinook salmon)

Fish & Game has reopened spring chinook season with some revised rules. It gets a little complicated, so make sure you read up on the regulations before you head out. The basics are as follows:

▪  Clearwater River: Fishing reopened June 3, with harvest available on jack salmon only (fish less than 24 inches in length). The limit is four fish per day. Fishing is only allowed Thursday-Sunday.

▪  Lower Salmon River & Little Salmon River: Fishing reopened June 3. Both jacks and clipped (hatchery) adults may be harvested. The limit is four fish per day, but only two adults. Fishing is only allowed Thursday-Sunday.

▪  Snake River: The section between Dug Bar and Hells Canyon remains open, and it has produced the best fishing. Both jacks and clipped (hatchery) adults may be harvested. The limit is four fish per day, but only two adults. Fishing is allowed seven days a week.

Fish counts and catch rates are down significantly from last year, but Fish & Game has announced a summer season on the Clearwater, Upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers will open on June 22. Fish with plugs, roe, tuna balls, spoons and brightly colored streamers and jigs. Be prepared to work hard, and get out while you can — unless fish counts improve dramatically, the season won’t last long.

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

Lake Lowell (Bass)

Fishing has improved moderately at Lake Lowell. I made a quick evening trip this week and picked up some decent fish pitching soft plastics along the weed lines. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs and top-water lures also should get some attention. It’s no secret that bass fishing has fallen off compared to what it was a few years ago, both in terms of quantity and size. But I did see some encouraging signs, most notably an abundance of small bass (4- to 5-inchers, probably 1-year-olds) swimming around in the weeds and occasionally chasing my lures. That could indicate that the fish had a good breeding year last summer, which would bode well for a bounce-back in the near future. At any rate, conditions are just about perfect right now, and Lowell is always a convenient getaway, so give it a try if you need a quick bass fix. Remember, all bass are catch-and-release until July 1.

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.