Outdoors Blog

Try local ponds for early spring bite (fishing report, April 13)

Largemouth bass are starting to stir in Treasure Valley ponds, which are also home to trout, bluegill, crappie and more.
Largemouth bass are starting to stir in Treasure Valley ponds, which are also home to trout, bluegill, crappie and more. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)

High water season is upon us in the Treasure Valley. While the plentiful water will mean good things for anglers long term, it limits local fishing options when the Boise and Snake rivers are both running so high. Fortunately, local ponds are usually a good bet during spring. I have already seen some really nice bass getting caught, including a few who slurped dry flies or top water lures. Rainbow trout — including occasional monster brood stock fish — are being stocked by the thousands all around the Valley. Bluegill, crappie, catfish and carp also inhabit many ponds. Take a variety of tackle and explore some new areas! I recently checked out Wilson Springs in Nampa and was impressed with the setup. There are miles of trails to walk, lots of bird life and numerous ponds in which to chase a variety of fish species.

Getting there: Fish & Game stocks more than a dozen ponds across the Treasure Valley, from Boise to Emmett. There are countless ponds with resident fish populations, too — just make sure you get permission before casting on private land.

Lake Lowell (Bass)

Lake Lowell opens to motor boats on Sunday, bringing one of our region’s most popular bass fisheries back into play. Fishing has been slow the last two seasons, but after spotting lots of young bass cruising around in the weeds last summer, I’m hoping for a bounce-back year. I haven’t heard much from the bank fishing crowd yet this spring, but fishing slow with spinnerbaits and crankbaits or pitching soft plastics into heavy cover is often productive early in the year. Catfish and panfish also inhabit Lowell, and there is no shortage of carp for the bow fishing crowd. Remember that all largemouth and smallmouth bass are catch-and-release only until July 1!

Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.

Hagerman Valley (Mixed Bag)

The Snake River is running high, but Hagerman is loaded with smaller water to fish, including the State Fish Hatchery ponds and Billingsley Creek. I have seen anglers showing off big trout caught at both locations. Spinners, worms, corn and Power Bait are the go-to offerings at ponds, while small nymphs, dry flies and the occasional streamer will attract attention in the creeks. If you fish Billingsley, make sure you know where you are — the regulations vary on different sections of the creek. The ponds are a great place to load up on trout fillets for the freezer or smoker, but pay attention to the maps there, too — some of the bass lakes don’t open until July 1.

Getting there: Take I-84 east, take Exit 141 and follow Highway 30 through Hagerman. Along the way, you’ll pass access points for Billingsley Creek, Bell Rapids, the Snake River and State Fish Hatchery.

Owyhee River (Trout)

If you want to fish a river, the Owyhee in eastern Oregon is your best bet. Water levels have come up, but it’s still tamer than the Boise and Snake right now, and the South Fork Boise is closed until Memorial Day weekend. The Owyhee was fishing better in March than it is right now, but anglers are still managing to catch a couple nice brown trout on most trips. Dry fly hatches are becoming more common, especially on warm days. Zebra midges and baetis patterns are your best bets on top. Skwalas, prince nymphs, WD-40s and streamers will catch fish sub-surface. Spin anglers also can tempt a big brown or rainbow with spinners, spoons or crankbaits. Brown trout are catch-and-release only, so barbless hooks are a good idea.

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.