Outdoors Blog

Hagerman Valley presents many angling options (fishing report, March 23)

Trout like this 20-inch rainbow are a popular catch along the Snake River and its many neighboring ponds and lakes in the Hagerman Valley.
Trout like this 20-inch rainbow are a popular catch along the Snake River and its many neighboring ponds and lakes in the Hagerman Valley. Courtesy of Jordan Rodriguez

Hagerman Area (Mixed Bag)

Spring is a great time of year to make a day trip to Hagerman. There are dozens of fishing holes to choose from, and anglers can chase everything from big rainbow and brown trout to bass, sturgeon and panfish. The Snake River is a good place to start. It’s running a bit high and murky right now, but baits and well-presented lures should tempt a bass or trout. Many waters within the State Fish Hatchery also opened for business on March 1. Riley Pond and the Oster Lakes are well stocked with rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill and sturgeon. Use the signage to make sure you stay legal, as other ponds don’t open until July 1. Spinners, crankbaits and flies will catch trout in clear water. If spring runoff makes things murky, worms and Power Bait will allow fish to find your offering by scent. Billingsley Creek is another option for chasing rainbow and brown trout. Again, make sure you know where you are. Certain sections are closed through Memorial Day, and others are fly fishing only.

Getting there: Take I-84 east, take Exit 141 and follow Highway 30 through Hagerman and out toward the Snake River and State Hatchery.

Swan Falls Dam (Bass, Catfish)

The bite is starting to turn on at Swan Falls. Options abound at the dam, where anglers can launch a boat and explore the upstream reservoir side, or fish the downstream river stretch from shore or a boat. Bass will be moving slowly until the water warms up a little — fish slow and deep with tube jigs, grubs, Senkos or crankbaits for now. Channel catfish are already pretty active, hitting on the usual assortment of worms, cut bait, chicken livers and manufactured catfish baits. Sturgeon anglers should be able to pick up a few fish by targeting the deepest holes with cut bait and squid. Surprises often show up at Swan Falls, too — I’ve bumped into perch, bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, trout, carp and pikeminnow.

Getting there: Take Meridian Road into Kuna, turn left on Swan Falls Road and follow it 22 miles to the dam.

Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)

Unpredictable spring weather can make it tough to plan fishing trips. For a quick and easy getaway, try wetting a line in one of the many ponds around the Treasure Valley. Bass, panfish and catfish will be stirring, and the spring trout stocking schedule will ramp up here over the next few weeks. I always recommend bringing a variety of tackle to ponds. Spinners, spoons and wobbly crankbaits will usually attract some trout. Plastic worms, spinnerbaits and jigs should get some attention from bass. Small jigs and downsized spinners work well if bluegill or crappie are present. And a worm fished under a float or with a marshmallow on a slip sinker setup should eventually get slurped up by something.

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.

Owyhee River (Trout)

The fishing has been excellent on the Owyhee in recent weeks. Anglers making the trip over the Oregon border have been rewarded with nice brown and rainbow trout on most days. Fly anglers are catching fish on midge, baetis, trico and streamer patterns, while spin anglers are having success on spinners, spoons, crankbaits and jigs. Don’t be afraid to get creative with big, noisy lures — those big browns will attack just about anything when they are in the mood. I’d recommend hitting up the Owyhee sooner than later. Once spring runoff and rising water levels muddy the waters, the bite will probably suffer. Be sure to handle the fish with care, especially the browns, which are catch-and-release only.

Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore. Remember your Oregon license!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors@idahostatesman.