Every Friday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Crane Falls/Cove Arm (Mixed Bag)
If variety is your goal, you can’t go wrong with Crane Falls Lake and Cove Arm Lake in Bruneau. Both lakes are small, but don’t let that fool you — Crane Falls is home to six species, while Cove Arm has at least nine or 10. On a recent trip to Crane Falls, our boat caught five species (largemouth bass, rainbow trout, crappie, perch and bluegill) on spinnerbaits, plastic worms, top-water plugs and small jigs tipped with worms. It was a great day! Cove Arm has all of the species listed above, plus smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bullheads and carp. Take a variety of tackle and bait, or throw small jigs and crankbaits and keep track of how many different species you can rack up. Crane Falls has trophy regulations on bass, and only electric trolling motors are allowed. Gas motors are allowed on Cove Arm, which connects to C.J. Strike Reservoir via a small channel at the north end of the lake. Keep an eye on the wind and weather. It can be unpredictable, but when conditions are good, the fishing is hard to beat.
Getting there: Take I-84 East to Mountain Home and Highway 51 south to Crane Falls Road. Cove Arm is located just east of Crane Falls along the dirt road.
Duck Valley Indian Reservation (Trout)
I’m hearing great things about the fishing at Duck Valley Indian Reservation. All three lakes (Mountain View, Sheep Creek and Billy Shaw) are open, and anglers are catching good numbers of rainbow trout, including lots of nice keepers in the 2-to-3-pound range. Powerbait, worms, marshmallows, spinners and flies are all effective ways to fish at Duck Valley — having a boat or float tube to get away from the shoreline and crowds is always a plus. For fly anglers, try matching the hatch with midge, caddis and mayfly patterns, or strip leeches and streamers. Trolling with spinners, Rapalas and pop gear also can be productive. Remember, Duck Valley is a pay-to-fish reserve. Make sure you pick up a day or season license and observe the reservation rules and guidelines.
Getting there: From Boise, go east on I-84 to Mountain Home, then take Idaho 51 south toward the Nevada border.
Brownlee Reservoir (Crappie)
Water conditions are improving at Brownlee, with boat ramp access now available at most of the popular launches. That has been good news for crappie anglers, who are piling up good numbers of keeper-sized fish on small, brightly colored jigs tipped with worms, cut bait or crappie nibbles. Locating schools is the key — look in and around coves in 20 to 40 feet of water. In many cases, the fish are within casting range from shore if you’re willing to hike a bit and put in the work finding them. In addition to crappie, anglers are catching bass on tube jigs, grubs, crank baits and jerk baits. Fish around the usual rocky structure for smallmouth, or look for submerged vegetation to target largemouth. As always, channel and flathead catfish are on the hunt at Brownlee. Cut bait, dead minnows, worms, chicken livers and crankbaits are solid choices for cats.
Getting there: Brownlee is located northwest of Boise along the Oregon border. Popular access points include Steck Park near Weiser on the Idaho side or Spring near Huntington on the Oregon side.
Horsethief Reservoir (Trout)
Good reports are rolling in from Horsethief, which is hard to beat for scenery this time of year. Anglers are catching trout on spinners, Rapalas, flies, worms, Powerbait, corn and marshmallows. Both bank and boat fishing have been hot of late, with some boat anglers trolling and others just motoring to hard-to-reach spots off shore. The fish aren’t monsters, but there are plenty of keeper-worthy rainbows in the 14-inch range, and you might luck into something a little bigger. With temperatures set to rise into the 90s next week, Horsethief is a great place for a summer escape to clear skies and cooler temperatures in the mountains. Camping is also very popular at Horsethief — just be aware of the new fees and regulations recently announced by Fish and Game. For the latest reports on Horsethief and nearby Lake Cascade, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Getting there: Take Highway 55 north to Cascade and turn right on Warm Lake Road. The turnoff to Horsethief is about eight miles in.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.