Outdoors Blog

Freeze brings ice fishing back to forefront in Idaho (fishing report, Feb. 23)

The recent cold front has firmed up ice-fishing conditions, which means chasing jumbo perch at Lake Cascade is back on the agenda.
The recent cold front has firmed up ice-fishing conditions, which means chasing jumbo perch at Lake Cascade is back on the agenda. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Lake Cascade (Ice Fishing)

A couple weeks ago, anglers were ready to pack up their ice gear and get their boats tuned up. But with the coldest weather of the winter upon us, ice fishing is back in business. Lake Cascade continues to fish well for both trout and perch. As I have mentioned before, it’s usually quality over quantity at Cascade. If you go expecting to fill a bucket, you might be disappointed. But if you put in the work, there’s a good chance you’ll ice a few jumbo perch and/or a big trout. The bite has been all over the map this season — worms, small tungsten jigs, panfish tubes, jigging Rapalas, Power Bait, marshmallows and jigging spoons all are viable options. If your lines are being ignored for too long, change it up. Despite single-digit overnight temperatures, ATVs are still having problems with pressure ridges and soft spots. It’s safest to go on foot, especially if you don’t know where the problem areas are.

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.

Horsethief Reservoir (Ice Fishing)

If you’re looking for an ice adventure with easier access and faster catch rates, Horsethief is a good bet. Located just a few minutes outside Cascade, Horsethief offers quality fishing for rainbow trout, brown trout and kokanee salmon. Small jigs and ice spoons tipped with pieces of worm, corn or marshmallow typically do the trick. It’s a shallow lake, so you don’t have to venture too far from shore to get in the strike zone. Trout like to cruise in 8 to 10 feet of water. If you want to target kokanee, try fishing a little shallower with bright pink or red tackle and a salmon egg. On average, you’ll catch more fish at Horsethief than Cascade and Warm Lake, but the majority of your fish will be small pan fryers.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north through Cascade, turn right on Warm Lake Road and follow it seven miles to the Horsethief turnoff.

Boise River (Trout)

The Boise River is always a good option when the weather is shaky. You can make a game-time decision on whether to brave the elements, and if you find yourself in a storm, it’s just a short drive back to the comfort of your living room. Anglers have been catching mostly rainbow trout of late, with occasional brown trout or whitefish mixed in. Prince, hare’s ear and pheasant tail nymphs are a good place to start, and if you stumble upon a dry fly hatch, small midges and baetis also will pick up some fish. Spinners, spoons, swimbaits, worms, Power Bait and salmon eggs are good options for the spin angling crowd.

Getting there: Fish and Game stocks rainbow trout all along the river, from Barber Park to Glenwood Bridge and on down through Eagle and Star.

Salmon and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)

February has been a productive month for the steelhead crowd. According to the latest harvest report, anglers are catching fish at high rates — anywhere from 2 to 9 hours per fish, in the most productive stretches — along the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. There are some really nice B-run fish in the mix, especially on the Clearwater. While catch rates are better than average, expect to work hard if you want to bring home some fillets. Only hatchery fish may be kept, and anything over 28 inches must be released on the Clearwater. Several anglers I’ve talked to have had great days without catching a legal keeper. Most steelhead anglers will happily make that compromise, though. Streamers, crankbaits, jigs, roe and brightly colored yarn are the best steelhead offerings.

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 outdoors@idahostatesman.com.