Outdoors Blog

Take the family to Horseshoe Bend’s Mill Pond (fishing report, July 14)

Horseshoe Bend Mill Pond is a great family fishing destination. The small fishery is home to bluegill, trout, bass and channel catfish — like this beauty hauled in by young Jasper Cafferty of Meridian.
Horseshoe Bend Mill Pond is a great family fishing destination. The small fishery is home to bluegill, trout, bass and channel catfish — like this beauty hauled in by young Jasper Cafferty of Meridian. 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.

Horseshoe Bend Mill Pond (Mixed Bag)

Fishing is heating up at Mill Pond in Horseshoe Bend, a family-friendly fishery that is home to a variety of species. Bluegill are an easy target at Mill Pond — they will eagerly gobble a worm, cricket or panfish jig. Be prepared to catch a lot of very small bluegill — perhaps not the place to go if you are looking for a fry, but perfect if you want some steady action for the kids. The pond also has nice largemouth bass. Jigs, soft plastics and top-water lures are the way to go (bass are currently catch-and-release only). Stocked rainbow trout are species No. 3. Flies, spinners, worms and Power Bait should do the trick, and I’ve seen folks have success trolling the middle of the pond with Rapalas and spinners (boats are allowed, but there is a 5 mph speed limit). Last but not least, there are giant channel catfish lurking in the depths. Reader Mike Stein sent in a great story about catching a huge cat while fly-fishing with a woolly buggar, and young reader Jasper Cafferty recently landed a 30-inch beauty while bait fishing from shore.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Horseshoe Bend. On the way out of town, signs point the way to the parking area just off the highway.

Anderson Ranch Reservoir (Kokanee)

It has been a slow summer for Kokanee fishing, but I’m starting to get some encouraging reports from several go-to trolling reservoirs. Anderson Ranch tops the list, with anglers reporting good catch rates and decent size. The reports I’ve received indicate fish holding in 30 to 40 feet of water. Of course with trolling, depth is the key, so if the fish aren’t biting, fish deeper or shallower until you start getting hits. Wedding rings, flashers, hoochies and squid jigs tipped with shoepeg corn are the ticket for Kokanee, and you might also pick up a trout or landlocked Chinook salmon. Smallmouth bass fishing is a good backup option if the salmon aren’t biting — take along some tube jigs, grubs, jerk baits and top-water lures if you plan to target bass.

Getting there: Head east on I-84, take exit 95 and follow U.S. 20 northeast to Anderson Ranch Dam Road.

Payette River (Trout)

Always an underrated trout fishery, the Payette River is finally receding to fishable levels. It’s still high, so use caution when walking the shorelines and avoid wading for now. But the flows have come down enough that anglers should be able to keep a lure, fly or bait in deep pools and riffles long enough for a big rainbow to see it. Spinners, Rapalas, worms, Power Bait, streamers, hoppers and nymphs are all good bets to tempt a trout between Horseshoe Bend and Cascade. Or, if you prefer to work your way west toward Emmett and New Plymouth, the Payette offers good fishing for smallmouth bass (spinnerbaits, jigs and soft plastics) and channel catfish (worms, cut bait, crankbaits).

Getting there: Fish between Horseshoe Bend and Cascade if you are targeting trout. There are lots of places to stop and hike down to the water along Idaho 55. Fish farther west toward Emmett and New Plymouth if you are targeting bass.

Lake Lowell (Bass)

Bass fishing continues to plug along at Lowell. The 20-fish evenings that were relatively common a few years ago are rare these days, but if you put in the work, a handful of fish usually cooperate. The weed line is well established at this point — fishing the edges with soft plastic baits, spinnerbaits and top-water frogs is a good place to start. The last hour or two of daylight can be particularly good for surface fishing. Keeping bass became legal July 1, but it’s a two-fish limit, and none between 12 and 16 inches. I recommend releasing all bass if possible — the population could use a boost after a couple of harsh winters. Bluegill, channel catfish, crappie and perch also dwell in Lowell, and there is no shortage of carp if you want to try bow fishing.

Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell. Boating hours close at dusk.

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