Anderson Ranch Reservoir (Mixed Bag)
Fishing has been picking up at Anderson Ranch, which has a fun combination of kokanee salmon and big smallmouth bass. It seems bass fishing has been the best bet so far this spring, but the kokanee bite should pick up soon. Bass are hitting on crankbaits, jerk baits, soft plastics, night crawlers and big, chunky flies like woolly buggars and leeches. The water is pretty clear, so you may even be able to sight fish some big, pre-spawn smallies. Kokanee anglers are trolling with the usual assortment of pop gear, usually tipped with small lures or jigs with a few kernels of shoepeg corn. Kokanee tend to be in 25 feet of water or shallower this time of year, but use your fish finder to see where schools are running. Keep in mind that the South Fork of the Boise River that comes out below Anderson Ranch Dam — which is dynamite for rainbow trout fishing — is closed until May 28.
Getting there: Head east on I-84, take exit 95 and follow U.S. 20 northeast to Anderson Ranch Dam Road.
Duck Valley Indian Reservation (Trout)
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With the Boise River still running high, Duck Valley might be the best bet for avid trout anglers. I’m hearing lots of good reports from Mountain View, Sheep Creek and Billy Shaw, the three reservoirs available on the reservation. Duck Valley trout tend to be fat, healthy, high-flying rainbows, and fishing is good from the bank, from a boat or from a small pontoon or float tube. Fly-fishermen are having the most success on leech patterns, damselfly nymphs, chironomids and midges. Spin fishermen are catching fish on small spinners and spoons, worms, marshmallows and Power Bait. Be sure to get your reservation fishing permit, which is required. Permits are sold at the Owyhee ACE Hardware Store or, when that’s closed, at the Tribal grocery store.
Getting there: From Boise, go east on I-84 to Mountain Home, then take Idaho 51 south toward the Nevada border.
Lake Lowell (Bass)
Fishing has picked up in recent weeks, and boating a dozen or more bass in one trip is a possibility. The weed lines still haven’t shown up, so fish around the flooded trees and overhanging brush to find largemouth. Fish are hitting on jigs, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and even some top-water plugs. As a general rule, the closer you are to the trees, the more bites you’ll get. Heavier tackle is recommended for horsing fish out of heavy cover. Anglers are also picking up catfish, smallmouth bass and a few largemouth off of the rocky dams. Crankbaits, worms and cut bait are the go-to presentations.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell and follow the brown access signs to the docks.
Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)
It doesn’t get any easier than hitting up one of the countless Treasure Valley ponds for a quick fishing fix. And I’m always surprised by some of the big fish that get pulled out of small ponds, especially given the heavy fishing pressure they face throughout most of the year. Bass have self-sustaining populations in most ponds, so releasing the big spawning adults is always a good idea. Pretty much all trout found in ponds are stocked by Fish and Game and are there to be caught and harvested. Panfish are somewhere in between. There are plenty to take a stringer home, but it’s good to leave some for the next guy or gal. Bring a variety of lures, from bass plastics and spinnerbaits to trout spinners and flies. Panfish jigs and a carton of night crawlers never hurt to bring along, either. And a lot of trout fishermen really like using Power Bait and marshmallows in ponds, especially when fished in tandem with worms.
Getting there: Idaho Fish and Game stocks ponds throughout the Treasure Valley, from Boise to Middleton and just about everywhere in between.