Outdoors Blog

Brown trout are biting on the Owyhee (fishing report, July 19)

Brown trout.
Brown trout. 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.

Owyhee River (Trout)

Fly-fishermen have been crushing trout on the Owyhee this month. Flows are friendly, hatches are healthy and the Owyhee’s famous trophy browns are slamming flies with reckless abandon. The daily hatch pattern usually includes early morning midges, afternoon PMDs and late evening caddis flies. Mayfly nymphs, bead head nymphs, hoppers, ants, streamers and mice are also catching fish. Target slow-moving riffles, back eddies and deep pools where big trout wait to ambush their prey. Traditional anglers also can get in on the action with spoons, spinners and crankbaits. Remember: fishing the Owyhee requires an Oregon license, and all brown trout are catch-and-release only.

Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.

Ben Ross Reservoir (Bass)

Water levels usually start dropping at Ben Ross this time of year, so get out and launch a boat while you can (and while shoreline cover is still fishable). Spinnerbaits, jigs, crankbaits and soft plastic lures fished close to submerged willows and the weed lines are the best way to go for Ben Ross’s big largemouth bass. As water recedes and shoreline structure dissipates, try using your fish finder to locate underwater channels and humps. Dropping a Senko, tube or lead-head jig to the bottom usually will work under those conditions. The bass limit is two, none between 12 and 16 inches. Ben Ross also has some nice crappie, bluegill and even a few rainbow trout, so pack some panfish jigs, spinners or bait to diversify your trip.

Getting there: Take I-84 or Idaho 52 west to Highway 95. Follow 95 north past Weiser, Midvale and Cambridge, then turn right on West Indian Valley Road (brown signs are posted for C. Ben Ross Reservoir).

Hagerman Hatchery Ponds (Trout)

The Hagerman Valley has a wide variety of fishing options, including some dynamite bass, trout and sturgeon fishing along the Snake River. But the easiest and most reliable spot is the hatchery, which has a cluster of small lakes and ponds heavily stocked with rainbow trout (and a few surprises). The State Fish Hatchery is particularly family friendly, with a fish viewing area, docks and lots of shore access. Pretty much all of the Hagerman ponds have rainbow trout, including the palomino or “banana” variety. Most fish average about 12 inches, but there are a few monsters swimming around to keep things interesting. Bass, bluegill and even sturgeon are possible catches. Worms fished near the bottom with a marshmallow or some Power Bait are a popular trout setup. Spinners and flies also will work. Pack some bass tackle just in case — some of the ponds are home to big largemouths. There are some nice swimming areas and hot springs in and around Hagerman, so take the whole family and make a day of it.

Getting there: Head east on I-84, take Exit 141 and follow Highway 30 south. Brown road signs point the way to the hatchery.

Horsethief Reservoir (Trout)

I’m hearing good reports from Horsethief, which seems to be bouncing back nicely after it was drained and poisoned to eradicate unwanted bullheads last fall. The lake has been re-stocked with trout, and anglers are catching decent numbers and size both from shore and by boat. Worms, Power Bait, marshmallows, corn, salmon eggs, spinners, spoons, flies and Rapalas are some of the most popular choices. If there are grasshoppers moving around on shore, throw one on a hook or toss a hopper fly pattern for an almost guaranteed bite. The lake has good shore access and a nice campground, and if the fish aren’t cooperating, it’s close enough to try Lake Cascade or Warm Lake instead.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade, turn right on Warm Lake Road and follow it about 8 miles to the reservoir.

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