Outdoors Blog

Anglers, high-mountain lakes hitting their peak (fishing report, July 26)

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.

Lucky Peak/Arrowrock Reservoirs (Kokanee)

Trolling at Lucky Peak and Arrowrock continues to produce fair numbers of kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. Use a depth finder to find the schools — 20-to-25 feet is a good rule of thumb, but the kokanee have been a bit deeper of late.

Everyone has their go-to trolling setups — from squids and spoons to wedding rings and big, hefty pop gear. Tipping your lures with shoepeg corn is a must, no matter what lures you use. And have a good net person at the ready to avoid heartbreaking losses — kokanee have soft mouths and they often go crazy once they see the boat. If the trolling is slow, try working rocky points and coves with crankbaits or plastics for smallmouth bass. The Grimes Creek and Mores Creek areas also have some decent trout fishing. Spinners or live worms are the ticket.

Getting there: From Boise, take Warm Springs Avenue or Idaho 21 northeast to Lucky Peak. Continue past Lucky Peak to get to Arrowrock.

Alpine Lakes (Trout)

High-mountain lake fishing is entering its prime, and I’ve heard reports of anglers catching good numbers of cutthroat and brook trout in several alpine areas. Flyfishing can be dynamite, especially from a float tube. High-mountain wilderness trout usually aren’t too picky, but dry flies like caddis and Royal Wulffs trailed by small nymphs are a good place to start. Terrestrials like beetles, hoppers and ants can also be deadly. If you don’t have a fly rod, try fishing flies behind a clear bobber. For traditional anglers, nothing beats a small spinner. Black, red and yellow are some of my favorite colors. Spoons, Rapalas, worms, live grasshoppers and corn will also catch fish. In the mountains around McCall and Cascade, huckleberry season is on, so bring a bucket and be on the lookout for bears.

Getting there: There are dozens of alpine lakes available around Cascade, McCall and Stanley. Get your hands on a trail map and do some exploring.

Snake River (Bass/Catfish)

There are two near-guarantees on the Snake River this time of year — catching fish, and snagging moss. It can be difficult to separate the two, and on some casts you’ll wind up with some of each. But the bass fishing has been pretty good of late, and anglers are also catching catfish and a few sturgeon, particularly in the evenings and into the night. Bass fishermen are using tube jigs, Senkos and other soft plastics, which have the advantage of weedless setups. Crankbaits, top-water poppers, leech fly patterns and live worms will catch fish if you can avoid the moss. Having a boat helps find more free-flowing pockets and channels, but be mindful of your boat propeller as you navigate the weeds. Catfish anglers are using worms, cutbait, stink bait or Mormon crickets, which are deadly when available.

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.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir (Walleye)

The walleye bite is still on at Salmon Falls Creek, one of the only lakes in Idaho to fish for these toothy, delicious predators. On windy days, anchor in roughly 20-30 feet of choppy water and fish with jigs, wedding rings or crawler harnesses tipped with live worms or dead minnows. Despite their ferocious appearance, walleye can be stealth biters, so keep a finger on the line to detect any hint of a strike. Diving crankbaits are another popular option if you want a more active style of fishing. Most of the walleye being caught this year aren’t huge, but mid-sized fish are perfect for the frying pan. The lake also has bass, trout and perch, so bring some backup tackle in case the walleye don’t cooperate.

Getting there: Take I-84 east toward Twin Falls and then follow U.S. 93 south toward the Nevada border. From Boise, it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive, just a few minutes shy of Jackpot.

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