Outdoors Blog

Oh crappie! Panfish are biting across the Idaho border (fishing report Sept. 29)

Owyhee Reservoir (Crappie)

I’m hearing some hot reports on crappie fishing across the Oregon border. The schools are active this time of year, and Owyhee has some nice-sized fish. Use brightly colored panfish jigs in anywhere from 10 to 40 feet of water. Having a boat with a depth finder can expedite the process of finding fish, especially on a big lake like Owyhee. But crappie do hang out within casting distance of shore at times, especially in rocky coves with steep banks. Use light tackle and pay close attention to your line—on my last crappie trip, the bite was so soft it was barely detectable. If the crappie aren’t cooperating (or if you catch enough for a fry), Owyhee also has largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout and catfish. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and large jigs should draw attention from the bigger species.

Getting there: Head southwest to Adrian, Ore., and follow the Owyhee River past the dam.

Duck Valley Indian Reservation (Trout)

Early fall typically means ideal conditions at Duck Valley, where anglers can chase fat rainbow trout at Mountain View Reservoir, Sheep Creek Reservoir and Lake Billy Shaw. Recent reports have been sparse, and the tribal website says traffic has been light, but those who have made the trek have caught some nice fish. Fly anglers tossing dark colored leeches, streamers, midges and nymphs are catching cruising trout in about 15 feet of water. Worms, Power Bait, spinners and spoons will also do the trick. Duck Valley is pay-to-play, but the fish are big. It’s a great place to camp for a weekend and stock up on trout filets for the winter. Be sure to purchase your Duck Valley license ($15 per day) before you start fishing. More info on Duck Valley is available at www.shopaitribes.org/fish.

Getting there: From Boise, go east on I-84 to Mountain Home, then take Idaho 51 south toward the Nevada border.

Payette River (Trout)

Fall is a beautiful time to fish the Payette River between Horseshoe Bend and Lake Cascade. With lower, calmer water levels, the quality holes are easier to spot and friendlier to fish. Rainbow trout are the main target on the Payette, and there are some big, native fish. They will take spinners, spoons, Rapalas, bait and a variety of flies, including nymphs, streamers, hoppers and small dry flies like midges and caddis. As always, I recommend releasing big, wild trout and keeping the hatchery variety (there are plenty available). Whitefish, pike minnow and an occasional perch might also show up in the Payette, especially closer to Cascade. Fish with a buddy and keep an eye peeled for foraging black bears.

Getting there: Fish the river along Highway 55, from Horseshoe Bend all the way up to Cascade.

Lake Lowell (Bass, Catfish)

Boating season is over at Lowell, but anglers are still catching fish. With the water level receding and most of the vegetation left high and dry, bass anglers are concentrating on rocky dam structure. Senkos, flukes, crankbaits and jigs will usually tempt a few largemouth and/or smallmouth bass. Channel catfish are also on the bite. Look for shallow flats and toss worms, shrimp, cut bait or scented catfish baits using a bobber or a slip sinker setup. Lowell is known mostly as a bass fishery, but it holds some big catfish! Crappie, bluegill and perch are also available at Lowell, though the numbers aren’t on par with what you can find at C.J. Strike, Brownlee or Owyhee Reservoir. Use worms or small jigs to target panfish.

Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell. The boat ramps are good fishing access points, even after boating season has ended.