Outdoors Blog

Brownlee Reservoir offers good fishing despite low water (fishing report, April 20)

The water is low at Brownlee Reservoir, but anglers are still catching crappie and catfish near Steck Park on the Idaho-Oregon border.
The water is low at Brownlee Reservoir, but anglers are still catching crappie and catfish near Steck Park on the Idaho-Oregon border. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Brownlee Reservoir (Crappie, Catfish)

Brownlee is extremely low right now in preparation for spring runoff flood control, but the fishing has still been good. I’m seeing anglers catch nice stringers of crappie and catfish, including a few big flatheads. The crappie bite has been slower than usual for this time of year, but the fish are nice keepers in the 12-inch range. Small, brightly colored panfish jigs are the ticket. If the fish are finicky, try tipping your lures with crappie nibbles or trolling with small crankbaits. Catfish are biting on worms, cut bait, chicken livers and crankbaits. The water is too low for most boat ramp facilities, but bank fishing has been good and you can still get a boat on the water if you know how and where to launch from the bank. Boots or waders might come in handy on shore, as the shoreline is pretty muddy.

Getting there: The best bank access is via Steck Park near Weiser. To launch a boat, try Moonshine Mine on the Oregon side or look for a flat, solid shoreline to launch from.

Duck Valley Reservation (Trout)

I’m hearing good things from Duck Valley, which is typically a great spring fishery. The months between ice-off and the heat/weeds of midsummer can be dynamite for catching big rainbows on flies, lures, bait and trolling gear. Mountain View, Sheep Creek and Lake Billy Shaw all are open as of April 1. According to the latest reports, the weather has been spotty, but catch rates have been as good as 4-to-6 fish per hour. Streamers and leeches in dark colors or “Sheep Creek Specials” are the ticket for fly anglers. Spinners, Rapalas, worms, Power Bait or trolling gear also should attract some attention. Be sure to purchase your Duck Valley license ($15 per day) before you start fishing. In addition to stores on the reservation, many Treasure Valley tackle shops carry Duck Valley licenses.

Getting there: Follow I-84 to Mountain Home, then take Idaho 51 south toward the Nevada border.

Snake River (Sturgeon)

Sturgeon don’t seem to mind the high, murky conditions on the Snake River. I’m seeing lots of anglers post photos and videos of nice catches along the river, from Bliss and Glenns Ferry to C.J. Strike and Swan Falls. Fish deep with fishy, pungent baits like pickled herring, squid, sucker meat and hatchery trout — even if they can’t see it, sturgeon will find your offering with their keen senses of feel and smell. Be careful navigating and fighting fish from boats and small watercraft, as the high, fast flows can cause trouble. If you target sturgeon, be sure to adhere to the catch-and-release, low-impact rules in place by fishing with non-offset circle hooks, using heavy gear (minimum 50-pound monofilament) and taking care of fish by leaving them in the water and, if needed, helping revive them before they swim away.

Getting there: Fish the deepest holes you can find. Islands and dams are good places to find fish.

Lake Lowell (Bass)

Motorized boating season opened April 15. From what I heard, fishing was pretty slow at the Lake Lowell Open tournament, but that isn’t out of the ordinary. As the water warms up, the fishing should follow suit. Until it does, pitching soft plastics into heavy cover, fishing weed edges with spinnerbaits or using drop-shot rigs in deeper water are good methods to try. I’ll try to get a first-hand report of the water conditions and successful tactics soon. Remember: all bass are catch-and-release until July 1.

Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.

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