Chinook Salmon return to Idaho’s Sawtooth Hatchery
Every Friday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column appears three Tuesdays per month.
Salmon River (Chinook salmon)
Salmon anglers got some bad news this week when Idaho Fish and Game announced that the South Fork Salmon River will not open for Chinook fishing. The popular destination was supposed to open June 22, but lower than anticipated fish counts will not allow for sport harvest this year. However, the main Salmon River is open for business, and from what I’m hearing, this is the weekend to head up to Riggins. Fishing is picking up, and with fewer fish available, the season probably won’t last much longer. The Upper Salmon and Lochsa Rivers did open as scheduled on Thursday — those seasons likely will be short as well. The fishing might be tough sledding at times — and Riggins will surely be crowded — but give it a go with plugs, roe, tuna balls, spoons, jigs and brightly colored streamers, and you just might hook a majestic ocean-run salmon. Don’t forget your permit, and remember that only hatchery fish with a clipped adipose fin may be harvested.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of salmon counts, special seasons and rules, and the latest harvest reports.
C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
Old reliable C.J. Strike continues to produce solid catch rates on a variety of species. I was there last week and caught two dozen bluegill as well as a fun daily-double — boating big largemouth and smallmouth bass on the same lake in the same day. Small jigs tipped with worm were hammering the bluegill, while the bass bite came mostly on soft plastics. I’ve also seen some great stringers of crappie (use panfish jigs), a few perch and catfish (use worms or cut bait), and good size and catch rates from the sturgeon crowd (use pickled herring or squid). The trout bite might slow down a bit as the water warms, but bring along a variety of tackle and you should be able to entice a bite from something that swims in C.J. Strike.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 51 south toward Bruneau and Grandview.
Owyhee River (Trout)
Flows are stable and trout fishing is steady on the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon. With the Boise River blown out, the O remains the closest destination for fly-fishing purists. My latest intelligence pointed to afternoon PMD hatches and evening midges as the go-to presentations, with chunky streamers producing beneath the surface for big, aggressive browns. Muddler minnows, sculpins, leeches and mice are a few patterns to try for the exciting chase-down bite. A few reminders: Grab your Oregon day license on the way out, and keep in mind that while traditional lures are allowed on the Owyhee, barbless hooks are strongly recommended because all browns are catch-and-release.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Lake Cascade (Perch, Trout)
Perch fishing is heating up at Cascade, and anglers are finally starting to find some jumbo specimens. The best fishing is usually done from a boat, which maximizes mobility and allows anglers to use the fish finder to locate schools. Once you find some fish, drop down baited hooks or panfish jigs and experiment with different colors and bait choices until you find what works. For my money, worms and perch cut bait on perch-colored jigs almost always carry the day. If you find yourself catching lots of small fish, try throwing on a medium-sized crankbait —you won’t catch as many perch, but you might entice some big ones. If you don’t have a boat, try fishing with a slip bobber setup near steep, rocky drop-offs and coves. If you want to target trout, try bait fishing from shore or go trolling with pop gear, spinners or Rapalas. I’ve heard some great reports on the smallmouth bass fishing, too. Target shallow, rocky outcroppings, and don’t be afraid to throw top-water lures on warm, calm evenings.
Getting there: Take Highway 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at email@example.com.