Chesterfield Reservoir (Ice Fishing)
Warm and rainy conditions have made lakes on our side of the state a bit of a mess. But if you’re willing to make a longer drive, Chesterfield Reservoir near Pocatello has a thick layer of ice and a reputation for producing big fish. Rainbows are the dominant species at Chesterfield, and specimens in the 5-pound class are not uncommon. Quality fish in the 2-pound range are more of the norm. Target trout in the upper third of the water column in anywhere from 6 to 12 feet of water. Brightly colored jigs and ice spoons tipped with worms and corn are the ticket. Marshmallows, Power Bait, dead minnows and jigging Rapalas also should do the trick. With overnight lows in the teens and sunny skies in the forecast, it should be smooth sailing for the weekend.
Getting there: Follow I-84 and I-86 east to Pocatello, then take I-15 south. Take Exit 47 and follow Highway 30 and then Blaser Road north to the reservoir.
Warm Lake (Ice Fishing)
Ice fishing options are somewhat limited for this time of year, especially compared to last year’s deep freeze. But Warm Lake outside of Cascade has plenty of safe ice, and anglers have been catching some nice trout according to the folks at North Shore Lodge. Rainbows in the 14-inch range are common, along with smaller brook trout. I also heard one report of a 2-pound brookie, which is a great fish! For trout, small jigs or a treble hook tipped with worms, corn, marshmallows and/or Power Bait are the ticket. Warm Lake also holds kokanee salmon and Mackinaw trout. Use small, brightly colored spoons tipped with corn to tempt a kokanee, which often run in shallow schools under the ice. For Mackinaw, try jigging large spoons, tube jigs or Rapalas tipped with cut bait in deeper water. Use heavier gear if you are targeting Mackinaws, which easily can grow to 20 pounds.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade and turn east onto Warm Lake Road. The lake is located 26 miles from the turnoff. For the latest conditions and fishing reports, call the North Shore Lodge at (208) 632-2000.
Magic Reservoir (Ice Fishing)
It’s a mixed bag of news at Magic. The most popular ice fishing destination near West Magic Resort has open water as of this writing (although some anglers are still catching trout from shore using spinners and bait). But there is safe ice on the narrower north end of the reservoir, and anglers have been catching some big rainbows, brown trout, and a handful of mid-sized perch. Drop bait-tipped jigs all the way to the bottom to target perch, or jig spoons, Rapalas and other flashy lures tipped with worms and corn for trout. The forecast calls for continued warmer weather, so stay safe by drilling test holes and watching for any cracks or gaps in the ice.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 20 northeast past Fairfield. Call West Magic at (208) 487-2571 for the latest updates (the lake wasn’t frozen at the lodge as of this writing).
Expo Idaho (Fly Fishing Expo)
The 14th annual Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo is happening this weekend at Expo Idaho in Garden City. Festivities will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. In addition to lots of cool fishing gear for sale, there will be fly-tying booths, speakers, workshops, live demonstrations and two indoor casting ponds. Admission is $8 for adults and free for kids 13 and younger (cash only at the door). If the weather is too dreary for a fishing trip, hanging out with other anglers and checking out all the latest tackle and gadgets isn’t a bad alternative, right?
Getting there: Expo Idaho is located at the fairgrounds near the corner of Chinden and Glenwood.
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.