Outdoors Blog

Smallmouth bass don’t mind the heat (fishing report, July 5)

Smallmouth bass.
Smallmouth bass. Special to the Idaho Statesman

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.

Snake River (Bass, Catfish)

The smallmouth bite is pretty steady on the Snake right now. Warm temperatures don’t seem to bother fish in the river — I once had a 50-fish day in 105-degree heat below Swan Falls Dam! Recent trips have yielded solid numbers of fish in the 10-14-inch range, with an occasional slab mixed in. Soft plastic tubes, jigs and creature baits that resemble crayfish are the best bet — sometimes, you can see the antennae of an unfortunate victim protruding from the bass’s throat. Live night crawlers or dark-colored leech and woolly buggar fly patterns also will catch fish. Floating moss is starting to become a problem, and it limits the effectiveness of crankbaits and other retrieve lures. One calm evening, you might pick up fish by working top-water poppers and plugs. Catfish are another possibility; try to avoid the weeds and fish deep with cut bait, worms or chicken livers.

Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike Reservoir and Brownlee. Popular access points include Marsing, Swan Falls Dam near Kuna and Celebration Park in Melba.

Anderson Ranch Reservoir (Kokanee)

Anglers have been catching some nice kokanee up at Anderson Ranch in recent weeks. Word on the street is catch rates are down, but size is up, with some kokes pushing 20 inches! I’ve seen reports of fish being caught anywhere from 20 to 50 feet down, with most anglers skewing toward the deeper side of that range. Wedding rings, hoochies, squids and other trolling rigs are the tackle of choice, and almost all kokanee anglers tip their lures with shoepeg corn. A big landlocked Chinook might liven things up every once in a while, too. If you can’t find the kokanee bite, try throwing crankbaits and soft plastics around rocky points and ledges for smallmouth bass.

Getting there: Head east on I-84, take exit 95 and follow U.S. 20 northeast to Anderson Ranch Dam Road.

Salmon, Clearwater and Boise Rivers (Chinook)

Chinook season closed Monday on the South Fork Salmon River, but anglers can still fish for salmon on the Clearwater, Upper Salmon and Boise Rivers. Fish & Game released another 150 Chinooks into the Boise River over the weekend, this time of the “jack” (under 24 inches) variety. Jacks do count toward the daily two-fish limit on the Boise River, where anglers can used barbed hooks (unlike the Salmon and Clearwater) but must still have a 2016 salmon permit. Roe balls, tuna balls, brightly colored jigs, yarn, streamers and plugs are the most popular setups. The Boise River Chinooks were released in town, and with float season officially open, it’s bound to be crowded. Bring a smile and be ready to share the river!

Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of salmon counts, seasons and rules and the latest harvest reports.

Bruneau-area Lakes (Bass, Bluegill)

The Bruneau area has three small lakes ideal for fishing from a kayak, float tube or other small watercraft: Bruneau Dunes, Crane Falls and Cove Arm. All three have largemouth bass and bluegill; Crane Falls also has rainbow trout; and Cove Arm adds smallmouth, crappie and perch to the mix. Small lakes like these can be highly productive, and kicking around in a float tube is a great way to spend a hot summer day. Take a variety of tackle with you—flies, spinners, soft plastics, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, top-water lures, tubes, panfish jigs, Power Bait and live worms will all catch fish. Motorized boats are allowed on Cove Arm; electric trolling motors are allowed on Crane Falls. Bruneau Dunes and Crane Falls both have special trophy rules in place on largemouth bass — two fish per day, none under 20 inches. It’s tough to find one that big, but there are plenty of mid-sized fish to provide catch-and-release fun.

Getting there: Take I-84 east to Exit 90, then follow Highway 51 south. Brown sportsman access signs will point the way to Bruneau Dunes (on the left) and Crane Falls/Cover Arm (on the right).

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

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