Lake Cascade (Perch, Trout)
Ice fishing is heating up at Cascade — just in time for a late-January hunt for record-breaking, 3-pound perch! With colder conditions, the ice is in great shape and the lake can be fished from dozens of access points. Cascade has a well-earned reputation as a tough lake to fish, but the quality makes it worth the effort. From jumbo perch to monster rainbow trout, Cascade offers anglers a chance to catch a trophy on any given trip. I fished Cascade the past two weekends, and our group found jumbo perch and nice rainbow trout on both trips. The bite is light, but catch rates are pretty consistent, averaging a fish or two per hour. Most diehard perch anglers focus their efforts around Sugarloaf Island or farther north, but we found perch on the south end of the lake as well as from the west bank. I haven’t found one lure or bait to be significantly more effective than the rest — small jigs, jigging Rapalas and perch-colored spoons tipped with worms, cut bait, Power Bait or maggots have all caught a few fish. Start with a variety of lure/bait combos and see what works for you. A word to the wise — even when the bite is slow, pay close attention to your rods. I’ll elaborate in next week’s Fish Rap column!
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. Popular access points include Poison Creek on the north end of the lake and Blue Heron closer to town. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports in the Cascade area, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Magic Reservoir (Trout)
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As of this writing, much of Magic still hasn’t frozen over. But the north end of the lake off Highway 20 has 7-plus inches of solid ice, and anglers there have been catching some really nice rainbow and brown trout along with occasional buckets of perch. Like many ice fishing destinations, the bite at Magic has been slow on most days, but anglers who capitalize on their chances have been rewarded with big fish. Trout are hitting small spoons and jigs tipped with corn, worms, marshmallows or Power Bait in 10 to 15 feet of water. If you find a school of perch, you might be in for some fun, fast action. The perch at Magic aren’t Cascade jumbos, but you can usually catch quite a few smaller ones, with a few 10-to-12-inch keepers mixed in. Target perch near the bottom in deeper water by tipping small jigs with worms, maggots or a piece of perch meat.
Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and Highway 20 northeast past Fairfield to access the northern reaches of Magic Reservoir.
Owyhee River (Trout)
Mild temperatures and the lack of snow have made fishing pleasant and accessible on the Owyhee River this winter. Anglers are catching trout on top water and below the surface — tiny black midges, BWO comparaduns and olive-colored leech patterns are the flies of choice. Interestingly, my go-to Owyhee expert said 19 of the 20 fish he landed on two recent trips were rainbow trout, and only one was a brown. That ratio is opposite of what you’d expect, indicating the rainbows are much more aggressive right now, for whatever reason. For traditional anglers, spinners, spoons and Rapalas should attract some attention. Rainbows seem particularly fond of chasing silvery lures. Remember your 2018 Oregon license, and be sure to release all brown trout unharmed.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Fish Stories archive goes live
A few months ago, I recorded a podcast with Buddy Seiner, founder of the Fish Stories website. The podcast, titled “Lucky,” is currently featured on the Fish Stories homepage. This week, the site launched its full archive feature, with a goal of posting 5,000 audio fishing stories by year’s end. There are also new options for supporting the archive, which will allow the site to continue growing. If you have a story you want to share, record it and email it to email@example.com. I recently added an ice fishing caper that should be published soon! Check out the full site, including featured stories and info on how you can participate, at http://www.fishstories.org/.
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.