C.J. Strike (Mixed Bag)
Thanks to our balmy October temperatures, the bass are still biting at C.J. Strike. A local club tournament last weekend produced several fish in the 5-pound class, with anglers catching fish on spinnerbaits, jigs, soft plastics and crankbaits. The bite might be soft as the water cools —if things are slow, try moving to deeper water and fishing submerged structure rather than the usual shoreline cover. If the bass don’t cooperate, panfish are usually biting somewhere in the narrows. Perch, bluegill and crappie are all possibilities. Use panfish jigs tipped with worms or cut bait in 15 to 40 feet of water (a depth finder can be a big timesaver for locating schools). C.J. Strike also has a healthy population of stocked rainbow trout. Trolling or fishing with worms and marshmallows where the current picks up near the dam is a good place to start if you are targeting trout.
Getting there: Head southeast on I-84 and Simco Road, then follow the signs to C.J. Strike Wildlife Management Area via Strike Dam Cut-Off Road and Highway 78.
Payette River (Trout)
It is a beautiful and productive time of year to fish the Payette River north of Boise. The Payette is home to some big, wild rainbow trout, and the holes are easier to identify and access in the fall. Look for deep pools, riffles and eddies and fish them with small nymphs, streamers, spinners, spoons, Rapalas or bait. As always, I recommend releasing wild trout — there are plenty of stocked rainbows if you want to keep a few fish. Don’t wait too long if you want to make a trip. There is already snow on the ground in some places, and the going gets tough once it piles up. Whitefish, pikeminnow and the occasional perch are possibilities on the North Payette along Highway 55. If you fish the western stretch closer to the Snake River, the catch will be mostly smallmouth bass and channel catfish.
Getting there: Fish the river along Idaho 55, from Horseshoe Bend all the way up to Cascade.
Arrowrock Reservoir (Trout)
I’m seeing some good fall reports from trout fishermen at Arrowrock Reservoir. There’s more water than usual in the reservoirs this year, which generally improves fishing and access conditions. Most of the reports I’ve been seeing are from bank anglers throwing worms, marshmallows, Power Bait or some combination of the three. Corn, spinners, spoons, Rapalas and trolling gear also might catch fish. Rainbow trout are the primary catch right now, but perch, protected bull trout, Kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass and landlocked Chinook salmon are also possibilities at Arrowrock. The way in can be rough and muddy, so a four-wheel-drive vehicle and good hiking boots are recommended.
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take Exit 64 and follow Blacks Creek Road to the dam. You also can take Highway 21 north to Lucky Peak and follow Arrowrock Road to the reservoir.
Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
Steelhead fishing has remained steady, with catch rates averaging between 4 and 11 hours per fish on most of the popular stretches of river, according to the Idaho Fish & Game website. If you make a trip, there’s a good chance you’ll at least have a shot or two at landing an ocean-run rainbow. Be aware of the special harvest rules in place this fall — anglers may keep two fish per day, although all fish longer than 28 inches must be released on the Clearwater River, its tributaries and the Snake River downstream of Couse Creek. Back-trolling with side planers and plugs, floating a jig-and-bobber rig or drift fishing with streamers, yarn and roe are the most popular methods for enticing a steelhead. Remember to buy a steelhead permit ($12.50) and de-barb your hooks.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of fish counts, seasons and rules, and the latest fishing reports.
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.