Steelhead begin migration to the Pacific Ocean
Arrowrock Reservoir (Trout, Kokanee)
Arrowrock is full to the brim, and anglers have been enjoying solid catch rates on trout and Kokanee. I was there recently, and there were at least a dozen boats on the water. We couldn’t locate the Kokanee schools, but we had good luck catching trout on wedding rings and squid jigs tipped with corn. All of our action came in the top 20 feet of water, and Kokanee reports I’ve seen also indicate a shallow bite. On a sunny Saturday, the shore was packed with anglers, too. Most of the groups were bait fishing, and almost all of them were filling stringers with pan-sized rainbow trout. Most of our trolling catches were those same stocked rainbows, although my buddy Bryce did catch a nice surprise — a 16-inch cutthroat trout, the first I’ve ever seen in the Boise River drainage. Smallmouth bass, perch, bull trout and landlocked Chinook are also possibilities at Arrowrock.
Getting there: Take Highway 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, bumpy dirt road. Four-wheel drive is recommended.
Anderson Ranch Reservoir (Kokanee)
Like Arrowrock, Anderson Ranch is experiencing high water levels and good catch rates early this spring. Kokanee anglers are picking up fish near the surface with the usual assortment of flashers and pop gear trailed by small lures. Tipping your hooks with corn or salmon eggs is the ticket. Bonus trout are common when the Kokanee are hanging out in shallow water. You might try dropping one line deeper to target bigger, landlocked Chinook. If you catch your fill of Kokanee or have a slow day trolling, bass should be starting to stir. Drop-shot worms, jigs or slowly retrieved crankbaits might tempt a nice smallmouth or two.
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take exit 95 and follow U.S. 20 northeast to Anderson Ranch Dam Road.
Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
I’m seeing a recent uptick in steelhead catch rates. If you are willing to brave unpredictable weather, you stand a good chance of tangling with an anadromous rainbow. As of this writing, the best catch rates have been on the South Fork Clearwater River—where anglers have the best chance of catching bigger B-run fish—and on the Salmon River near Stanley. Bait fishing with sand shrimp and roe seems to be the hot ticket right now. Drifting a jig-and-bobber, swinging streamers or throwing crankbaits could also produce. Remember to grab a steelhead permit and check the revised 2018 rules before you fish.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of fish counts, seasons and rules, and the latest fishing reports.
Boise River (Trout)
I’m listing the Boise River as a stay-away for this week (and likely the next few). Flows are on the rise, creating fast, murky fishing conditions, tricky access and unsafe wading flows. If you want a nearby fishing fix, local ponds are the answer for now. Many ponds have been producing solid catch rates, including some early-season bass. Also, don’t forget that the South Fork of the Boise closed to fishing on April 1 — it will reopen Memorial Day weekend.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors@idahostatesman.