Outdoors Blog

Playing Outdoors: the weekly fishing report (March 9)

Every Tuesday, we’ll post fishing writer Jordan Rodriguez’s weekly report in the Playing Outdoors blog. His column will appear three Wednesdays per month.

Jordan’s report for this week:

C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

Just about everything that swims has been biting out at C.J. Strike, it seems. Anglers have been bringing home nice stringers of perch along with occasional bluegill, crappie, bass and trout. The action has been hot for both bank fishermen and boat anglers, including some intrepid souls braving the chilly mornings in kayaks. With so many species to choose from, the tackle of choice depends largely on what you’re targeting. Perch prefer small jigs tipped with a piece of night crawler or cut bait. Crappie will hit on small hair jigs or tube jigs in bright colors like yellow, orange, red and white. Bluegill seem to favor live worms, but also will take panfish jigs and crickets. And bass will take soft plastics, jigs or crankbaits — just be sure to fish slow as they are still a bit sluggish. For trout, trolling with spinners or Rapalas works best, or try sinking a worm and marshmallow from the shore, especially near the dam. Cooling temperatures might slow things down a bit, but as hot as the fishing has been, it should still be worth the trip.

Getting there: Take I-84 east to Mountain Home and then head south to the reservoir.

Brownlee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

The crappie bite is starting to pick up at Brownlee, with lots of fish in the 8-to-10-inch range. They aren’t whoppers, but there are some nice keeper-sized fish for the frying pan. There’s no limit on crappie, but limit yourself to a reasonable number — those 10-inch fish will turn into nice 12-inch slabs by next spring if we toss back what we don’t need. Brownlee is a great catfish spot, too, and while the bite isn’t red-hot yet, a few channel cats and flatheads are starting to show up. You might catch some smallmouth, too, but the Brownlee bass bite tends to trail C.J. Strike by a few weeks. Throw small jigs for crappie, slow-fish plastics or crankbaits for bass and use cut bait, stink bait or dead fish for catfish. Flatheads are tougher to find than channel cats, but they are much bigger and definitely worth the effort.

Getting there: Brownlee sits about two hours northwest of Boise on the Idaho-Oregon border. Weiser on the Idaho side and Huntington on the Oregon side are the closest towns to the popular access points. You must have an Oregon license to fish from the west bank; if you’re in a boat, a license from either state will work.

Local Ponds (Trout)

I’m not sure what’s in the water this year, but pond fishing has been out of control! Anglers are catching an unusual number of big brood stock fish out of ponds in Emmett and Meridian. Many of those fish are 5 pounds or more, which is a huge trout, no matter where you are fishing. Brightly colored Power Bait or a worm and marshmallow combo fished near the bottom seems to be the ticket. Spinners and flies also will catch fish. And if you’re up for a drive east, the ponds near the hatchery in Hagerman tend to produce good spring fishing. Bass, panfish, catfish and carp are always possible pond catches, too.

Getting there: Idaho Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout the Treasure Valley, from Boise to Middleton and just about everywhere in between.

Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)

Just as soon as I warned against high, muddy water, spring steelhead fishing began to pick up again. Anglers are reporting steady catch rates and some really nice B-run steelhead, particularly on the Clearwater River. Brightly colored plugs, jigs, streamers and roe are the baits and lures of choice. River conditions change quickly in the spring, so talk to your fellow anglers before you head out.

Getting there: Check the Idaho Fish & Game website for an updated list of steelhead seasons, rules and locations. The latest catch rates are posted every week, too.

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