Boise River holds healthy trout population
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.
South Fork Boise River (Trout)
Fishing re-opened on the South Fork over Memorial Day weekend, and while the water is chilly and a little high (about 1,700 cfs), it remains one of the best local destinations for big, wild rainbow trout. No bait is allowed and barbless hooks are required, so flies or modified spinners are the best bets for catching fish. Some of the most popular fly patterns include caddis (size 14-18), beetles, woolly buggers, sculpins, stimulators, cicadas, stonefly nymphs, hare’s ear nymphs and small bead-head nymphs. Nymph fishing has been the most productive method thus far, but salmon fly and grasshopper action should pick up soon. Colorful spinners like Mepps, Rooster Tails and Panther Martins thrown into deep pools and riffles also can attract a strike. Waders and a landing net will be a big help if you hook into one of those legendary South Fork monsters. And remember, the limit is two fish — none under 20 inches. If fishing is slow, you can try for trout, bass or kokanee at nearby Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
Getting there: Fish between Arrowrock Reservoir and Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
Halverson Lake (Bass, Bluegill)
This small desert lake is one of my favorite places to fish. It’s quiet, scenic and off the beaten path. The lake only has two species of fish — largemouth bass and bluegill. Bass will whack crankbaits, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and top-water presentations such as frogs and poppers. The fish tend to be in the 10-to-14 inch range, but you can usually catch good numbers. Bluegill fishing usually picks up in June and July, and there are some schools of nice-sized fish. Live worms, crickets and panfish jigs are the most popular offerings. Fly-fishing for bluegill also can be productive, and a lot of fun. Getting to Halverson requires about a mile-long hike, so pack accordingly. If you’re willing to pack in a float tube or small raft, you can easily cover the entire lake in a day. Shore fishing is good, too — just keep an eye out for poison ivy and the occasional rattlesnake. And if the fish aren’t cooperating, there’s usually good smallmouth and channel cat fishing on the nearby Snake River.
Getting there: Head to Celebration Park in Melba, park on the dirt road along the Snake River and hike south to the lake (there are signs posted).
Lake Cascade (Mixed Bag)
Spring fishing was pretty hit-or-miss at Cascade, but things have really turned on over the last week or two. The reservoir is full, and perch are hitting on worms, panfish jigs, plastic grubs and small crankbaits — most anglers are finding them in 8 to 12 feet of water in and around the weed lines. Trolling for trout has been picking up as well, with pop gear and wedding rings tipped with bait serving as the lures of choice. Bank fishing with worms, marshmallows and Power Bait also can pick up a cruising rainbow. Smallmouth bass fishing, surprisingly, has been the most consistent of all, with anglers picking up good numbers and decent size by throwing soft plastic tubes, worms and Senkos. Crayfish-patterned lures also will entice a smallmouth. Anglers are also picking up lots of trout at nearby Horsethief Reservoir (bait fishing from the bank) and Warm Lake (trolling).
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. Crown Point and Sugarloaf Island are popular access points.
Lucky Peak & Arrowrock Reservoirs (Kokanee)
It has been a weird season for kokanee. Some days, anglers are limiting out in a matter of hours. Other days, people are really having to work to catch some fish. And at times, it seems the schools have developed lockjaw, or disappeared completely. But if you put in the work, chances are you’ll catch at least a few of these silvery delicacies. Fishing techniques and depths vary, but most anglers are setting their downriggers between 15 and 25 feet. Trolling gear trailed with wedding rings, soft plastic squids and Hoochie-type lures in red, pink or orange are the lures of choice, and they are typically tipped with a piece of shoepeg corn or a salmon egg. Lucky Peak has had the better catch rates overall, and both reservoirs have trout and smallmouth bass if the kokanee bite goes cold.
Getting there: From Boise, take Warm Springs Avenue or Idaho 21 northeast to Lucky Peak. Continue past Lucky Peak to get to Arrowrock.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.