Fish on! 145 huge chinook released into Boise River
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. (We’re posting this report early because of the timeliness of the Chinook salmon item.)
Salmon, Clearwater and Boise rivers (Chinook salmon)
Time is running out to wrestle with Idaho’s largest anadromous species. As of this writing, the season remains open on the South Fork Salmon River, Upper Salmon River, Lochsa River and the South Fork, Middle Fork and Mainstream Clearwater River. In addition, Idaho Fish and Game opened a summer season on the Boise River by stocking approximately 100 Chinooks at various spots through town. Anglers do need a salmon permit to fish for Chinook in the Boise, but barbless hooks are not required (all of the salmon are hatchery fish, stocked for sport and harvest purposes). I’ve never fished for Chinooks in the Boise, but I’ve heard it can be tough sledding. Having said that, salmon fishing is hard work in general, and the Boise River is a heck of a lot closer than driving up to the Salmon or Clearwater. If you are lucky enough to hook a Chinook, it will be well worth the effort, no matter where you catch it. Plugs, streamers, jigs, spoons and roe balls fished behind brightly colored yarn are the most popular salmon setups. Get after them while you can — salmon fishing is an awesome Idaho angling opportunity.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish and Game website for a complete list of salmon counts, seasons and rules, and the latest harvest reports.
Warm Lake (Trout)
It looks like summer weather is finally here to stay, which makes Warm Lake an ideal location for a weekend fishing trip or campout. The lake is equally accessible to boat and bank anglers, with plentiful populations of both rainbow and brook trout. Power Bait, marshmallows, salmon eggs, corn, worms, spinners, flies and trolling rigs are the most popular bait and lure choices. For brookies, which are smaller but easier to catch, try fishing near aquatic vegetation. Rainbows tend to cruise the shorelines — try fishing within 50 feet of the bank, even from a boat. Smaller watercraft and float tubes also work well, especially for fly fishermen looking to escape shoreline brush. Warm Lake has some big mackinaw trout, too, and they’ll be moving into deep, cold water as temperatures rise.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north past Cascade, turn east on Warm Lake Road and follow it 25 miles to the lake.
Lake Lowell (Bass)
Windy weather has been an obstacle, but anglers still can get a bass fix on most days on Lowell. The weed line is coming up all around the lake, and that’s the prime place to fish. Soft plastic creature baits, top-water frogs, buzz baits, spinner baits, jigs and flukes are good patterns for aggressive, post-spawn largemouths. Starting July 1, the catch-and-release-only rules change to two fish per day, none under 16 inches. I still prefer to release big bass, but the option is there for those who like to keep. Catfish and panfish are also plentiful in Lowell — live worms are the ticket for those species.
Getting there: Head south from Nampa or Caldwell.
Owyhee River (Trout)
Summer fishing is steady on the Owyhee. Midge hatches are happening most mornings, followed by PMD hatches in the afternoon and caddis hatches in the evenings. Streamers and terrestrials like hoppers and beetles also will catch fish. Catch-and-release brown trout are the dominant species, with an occasional rainbow mixed in. Most anglers think of the Owyhee as a fly-fishing destination, but traditional anglers can fish there, too. Barbless hooks are recommended when using spinners, spoons and Rapalas — this will make it easier to release fish unharmed. Don’t forget your Oregon license!
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Oregon.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.