Arrowrock Reservoir (Trout, Kokanee)
Most years, venturing to Arrowrock Reservoir on the narrow, unpaved roads would be a fool’s errand. But I made a quick scouting trip up there last week, and it was clear sailing all the way to the boat ramp. Anglers have been taking advantage, landing nice stringers of rainbow trout and Kokanee salmon by trolling wedding rings, spinners and other pop gear tipped with corn or salmon eggs. Bank fishing also can produce — I joined some guys tossing spinners and bait from shore, and we had some luck. Pan-sized rainbow trout are the most common catch, but Kokanee, Chinook, perch, and smallmouth bass are possibilities. Arrowrock also holds bull trout, so make sure you pay attention before tossing a fish in your live well. I didn’t have time to stop at Lucky Peak, but I imagine conditions there are similar. Lucky Peak should remain accessible, even if winter weather makes getting to Arrowrock dicey again.
Getting there: Take Idaho 21 past Lucky Peak State Park, turn right after crossing the Mores Creek Bridge and follow the road all the way in to Arrowrock Reservoir. The last few miles are unpaved, sometimes bumpy dirt road. Four-wheel drive is recommended.
Horsethief Reservoir (Ice Fishing)
The ice is holding up nicely at Horsethief, where anglers have been catching lots of pan-sized rainbow trout and the occasional Kokanee salmon. Idaho Youth Outdoors is holding its ninth annual Youth Ice Fishing Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Horsethief. With free food, loaner tackle and instruction on hand, it’s the perfect opportunity for kids and newcomers to try ice fishing. No license is required to fish during the hours of the event, and a variety of sponsors and volunteers will be there to lend a helping hand. There’s even a free fillet table! Parking might get tricky, so carpool if possible and be courteous to your fellow anglers. If big crowds aren’t your thing, fish early or head to nearby Cascade or Warm Lake. If you plan to bring your own tackle, small jigs and ice spoons (pink, orange and white are good colors to try) tipped with a piece of corn, Power Bait or night crawler are usually the ticket.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade, then follow Warm Lake Road east for about eight miles. Sportsman Access signs point the way to Horsethief. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports in the Cascade area, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
Hey, it’s not often we get to fish for “spring” steelhead in actual spring-like weather! The 2018 season is off to a bit of a slow start, but anglers have been having some luck on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, which provides the best chance to catch a monster B-run fish. Jig-and-bobber setups or bait fishing with shrimp and roe have been the best bets so far. Remember the revised rules for 2018: Daily bag limits are two fish per day and six in possession statewide. Only adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be harvested. Steelhead longer than 28 inches in total length cannot be harvested on the mainstem Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, or the Snake River from the confluence (Lewiston) upstream to Couse Creek Boat Ramp.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of fish counts, seasons and rules, and the latest fishing reports.
Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)
The recent warm spell has thawed many Treasure Valley ponds. Anglers have been catching trout, a handful of panfish and even a couple big January bass! Spinners, flies or bait are the best bets for trout. Bluegill and crappie will take bait or small jigs fished under a bobber. And if you want to tempt a sluggish winter bass, fish crankbaits or spinnerbaits at a much slower retrieve than you’d use during the warmer months. A friendly reminder in case we get another cold snap — local governments have asked the public to refrain from ice fishing on city ponds. Even when it seems safe (and this year, it surely isn’t), aerators and other unseen hazards can lead to dangerous soft spots in the ice. It’s not worth falling through.
Getting there: Fish and Game stocks hatchery rainbow trout in ponds across the Treasure Valley. Many also have naturally sustaining populations of bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.
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.