Outdoors Blog

Chase catfish at Brownlee; last chance for Chinook (fishing report, July 28)

The catfish are biting at Brownlee Reservoir, and there are some big ones — catches like this 7.5-pound beauty are not uncommon.
The catfish are biting at Brownlee Reservoir, and there are some big ones — catches like this 7.5-pound beauty are not uncommon. 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.

Brownlee Reservoir (Catfish)

The summer catfish bite is in full swing at Brownlee, with anglers pulling in lots of nice channels and the occasional monster flathead. Catfish are incredibly active this time of year, even feeding on the surface at times. For channel cats, Mormon crickets are the ticket — read more about those creepy crawlers in Tuesday’s Fish Rap column! Worms, cut bait, shrimp and chicken livers also will do the trick. For flatheads, fish deep with fresh cut bait or crankbaits. You might luck into one on traditional baits, but the elusive giants prefer fishy prey. Bass, crappie and perch are also on the menu at Brownlee, so bring a variety of tackle. A few words of caution — the boat launches are accessible, but the water is low, so keep an eye out for hazards. There were big blue-green algae blooms when I was there last week, so keep your pets and kids out of the water and don’t let your dogs ingest any of the toxic bacteria.

Getting there: Brownlee is located on the Idaho-Oregon border. Popular access points include Steck Park near Weiser on the Idaho side and Spring marina near Huntington on the Oregon side.

Snake, Salmon Rivers (Chinook Salmon)

This weekend is the last hurrah for spring and summer Chinook — Idaho Fish & Game has announced the season will end at the close of fishing hours Sunday, July 30, on the remaining open stretches of the Snake, Little Salmon and Upper Salmon. It was an all-around down year for most Chinook anglers thanks to low fish counts, uneven water conditions and condensed seasons. If you want to give it one last try, head to the Salmon River near Stanley and fish with roe, tuna balls, streamers, jigs or plugs. Fish & Game will consider a fall Chinook season, but it’s hard to get one’s hopes up after the abbreviated spring run.

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

Alpine Lakes and Streams (Trout)

The season got off to a late start, but with roads and trails clear of snow, anglers are finally enjoying the scenic beauty and action-packed fishing found at Idaho’s countless high mountain lakes and streams. Cutthroat trout and brook trout are the most common finds at high elevation, though a few lakes also have rainbow trout, bull trout, tiger muskie and arctic grayling. Both fly and traditional anglers can get in on the action — small dry flies and terrestrials such as beetles, ants and hoppers are some of the best patterns, while a trusty old spinner usually does the job on traditional gear. Spin anglers also can fish flies behind a clear plastic bobber, or fish with bait if they are willing to pack it in. Generally, the farther and harder it is to hike somewhere, the better the fishing will be. Take along your camping gear and make a weekend of it — elevation is a great way to beat the heat, and the huckleberries should be coming on any time now.

Getting there: There are dozens of alpine lakes in the wilderness near McCall, Cascade and Stanley. Make sure to bring a trail map!

Boise River (Trout)

Anglers are quickly making up for lost time on the Boise River. Strong trout reports have been rolling in over the past couple of weeks, including some nice wild rainbows and browns. There are plenty of new holes and terrain to explore after months of flood-stage flows, and the 100-degree days ahead of us are a perfect excuse to spend a cool afternoon on the riverbank. Pulling spinners through current pockets, drifting worms and Power Bait through deep holes, or casting into riffles with dry flies trailed by bead head nymphs all are solid methods for catching fish on the Boise.

Getting there: Fish & Game stocks rainbow trout all along the river, from Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge all the way down to Eagle and Star.

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