Henry’s Lake (Trout)
Disclaimer: This trip is not for the faint of heart, especially this time of year. Henry’s is a five-hour drive (and change) from Boise, and the snow has already flown. But if you are willing to bundle up and make the trek, the payoff can be outstanding. Fall is a magical time of year at Henry’s, as the lake’s legendary cutthroat, cut-bow hybrid and brook trout are at their absolute fattest. Trout over 5 pounds are not uncommon, 10-pound hybrids are possible and the brookies are the biggest you will find anywhere in Idaho. Trolling with spinners, spoons, Rapalas and bait-tipped wedding rings is one of the most popular methods. Casting lures, bait (worms, Power Bait and roe are go-to options) or flies from a boat or the bank also will work if you can avoid snags. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather so you don’t get stuck in a storm — conditions are known to change quickly. The lake has a two-fish limit.
Getting there: Take the interstate east to Idaho Falls and then follow Highway 20 north toward West Yellowstone.
Snake River (Bass, Catfish)
The recent cold snap is a somber reminder that the season is winding down for warm-water species like bass and catfish. But water temperatures should stay in favorable ranges for at least a few more weeks, and anglers are still catching plenty of smallmouths and channel cats all along the Snake River. In fact, the forecast for the next week or so should make for ideal conditions. Bass, in particular, will be eager to feed as they pack on calories for the cold months ahead. Crankbaits, tube jigs, soft plastics and pretty much anything else that looks like a crayfish should draw some attention. For catfish, use worms or cut bait in deep holes and current seams. A salty jig or slow-moving crankbait also might hook a cat. The water is low, so the shoreline will be navigable as long as it doesn’t get too cold. If you’re boating, be on the lookout for rocks, sandbars and other obstructions.
Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs. Popular access points include Bruneau, Marsing and Celebration Park.
South Fork Boise River (Trout, Kokanee)
Good reports continue to roll in off the South Fork, with anglers catching some big rainbows as well as red-phase Kokanee salmon. I’m also seeing lots of endangered bull trout, which is an encouraging sign. Fly anglers are catching fish on pinks, PMDs, nymphs and hopper patterns during the day, with caddis hatches carrying the evening hours. Streamers are also effective, and egg patterns can be deadly during the Kokanee spawn. Traditional anglers are catching trout on spinners and spoons and Kokanee on brightly colored jigs and yarn. Remember the special rules on the South Fork — lures and flies are limited to a single, barbless hook, bait is not allowed and the trout limit is two, none under 20 inches.
Getting there: Fish between Anderson Ranch Dam and Arrowrock Reservoir.
Columbia River (Chinook)
It has been a down year for anadromous species in Idaho. If you are feeling the itch to catch some big, ocean-run fish, you might try heading west to fish the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington border. The Dalles, Ore., is a great place to fish for Chinook, with good access to the Deschutes River steelhead run as well. I called a few boat captains this week, and they said the Chinook are starting to make their way toward the Tri-Cities area on the Columbia. Late September and early October are prime salmon season, and a day license only costs about $20. If you have access to a boat or are lucky enough to book a charter trip (most are booked this time of year, especially on weekends), you stand a good chance of bagging a big salmon. If you need to stick closer to home, catch-and-release steelhead fishing is allowed in Idaho waters. Fall Chinook season — which does allow harvest — is also open on the Salmon, Snake and Clearwater rivers, though I haven’t heard much yet on that front.
Getting there: Fish between The Dalles, Ore. and Tri-Cities, Wash. Be sure to buy a license.
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.
Come fishing with me!
I’m teaching a fishing class this fall through The College of Idaho’s Community Learning program in Caldwell. Join me Oct. 3-7 for “Stop Fishing, Start Catching,” a fun and informative class for anglers of all ages and ability levels. The course costs $59, which includes four hours of classroom instruction and activities (6-8 p.m. Oct. 3 and 5 in the C of I’s Marty Holly Athletics Center) and a four-hour Saturday morning fishing trip (8 a.m.-noon Oct. 7). Every participant receives a tackle goodie bag, plus chances to win awesome prizes. This class sold out in the spring, so reserve your spot early. Register online at www.cofifun.com. For more info, call (208) 459-5188 or email email@example.com.