Outdoors Blog

Some Chinook seasons end quickly; Brownlee improves (fishing report, June 30)

Fishing is hot for smallmouth bass (pictured), crappie and catfish at Brownlee Reservoir right now.
Fishing is hot for smallmouth bass (pictured), crappie and catfish at Brownlee Reservoir right now. 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.

Salmon River (Chinook)

As predicted, it was a short Chinook season on the Lower Salmon and Upper Salmon (apart from the short section of river listed below). Fishing is set to close at dusk on Sunday because of this year’s lower-than-anticipated fish counts, and the South Fork Salmon will not open for fishing this summer. Chinook fishing continues in the section of the upper Salmon River from the posted boundary upstream of the mouth of Valley Creek near Stanley to a posted boundary 100 yards below the weir and trap at the Sawtooth Hatchery. Seasons also continue in the Little Salmon, Lochsa and Snake rivers. From what I’m hearing, the fishing has been pretty tough, although the posted catch rates aren’t terrible. You can only catch one if you give it a go — fish with roe, tuna, plugs, streamers, yarn and brightly colored jigs.

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.

Brownlee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

I’m getting great reports from Brownlee, which has bounced back nicely from this spring’s crazy low water season. Here’s one fun way to spend a day at Brownlee: start out targeting bass, throwing crankbaits, jigs and top-water lures around rocky points and other shoreline structure. Then, use the fish finder to locate some crappie. Once you find a school, drop down some panfish jigs and you should rack up a nice stringer full. Assuming you want to keep a few, do your filleting on the boat and throw the remaining parts on a large bait hook. Sink your fresh cut bait into deep channels and holes, and a catfish should slurp it up — maybe even a giant flathead, if you’re lucky!

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.

Lake Cascade (Perch, Trout)

Don’t think me lazy for including Cascade two weeks in a row — the fishing is fantastic right now, and with the holiday upon us, I figured many anglers will be headed up Highway 55 for the weekend. Because of Cascade’s massive size, a boat really comes in handy (though bank anglers do just fine if they know where to go). Look for schools of perch in 15 to 30 feet of water and fish with panfish jigs, worms, cut bait or small crankbaits. Anglers have been getting on big schools of keeper-sized fish, with a few of Cascade’s legendary jumbos mixed in. It seems like most of the trout I’ve seen are bycatch from perch anglers, but trolling is also an option for rainbows that frequently top 20 inches. And don’t forget your bass tackle — Cascade is an underrated smallmouth fishery, with lots of nice fish in the 16-inch range.

Getting there: Take Highway 55 north to Cascade. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.

Halverson Lake (Bass, Bluegill)

Spoiler alert — Tuesday’s Fish Rap column is all about float-tube fishing! So I’ll toss in a fun place to kick around for some bass and bluegill. Located in the desert near Celebration Park, Halverson is a scenic oasis frequented by muskrats, osprey and bullfrogs. Spinnerbaits, plastics and top-water frogs are the best bass lures, while bluegill will snap up small jigs, live crickets and night crawlers. Fly-fishing is also an option for both species, especially from a float tube (much of the bank is overgrown with brush, and access is limited). Poppers, grasshoppers, leeches and terrestrials are good patterns to try. Be warned — the dirt road in from Celebration Park is rocky, and it’s at least a 20-minute hike through the desert to reach the lake. Getting there is hard work, but a nice cool float tube trip is a great reward.

Getting there: Go to Celebration Park near Melba and follow the dirt road south along the Snake River until it ends. The hike in is roughly a mile from the parking area.

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors@idahostatesman.com.