Outdoors Blog

Big bass await at Massacre Rocks (fishing report, Aug. 30)

The water is murky but the bass are big at Massacre Rocks State Park near American Falls.
The water is murky but the bass are big at Massacre Rocks State Park near American Falls. 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.

Massacre Rocks State Park (Bass)

This stretch of the Snake River is a bit of a drive from Boise (just under 3 hours), but when the fishing is hot, it’s totally worth it. It’s primarily a smallmouth bass fishery, and there are some big ones! A recent trip produced several fish over two pounds, and the girth on those fish was unlike anything I’ve seen on the western side of the state. Fishing conditions were almost perfect, but the water was milky — if it clears up, September could be a huge month for big bass. Massacre Rocks smallies grow fat and happy on crayfish, so tube jigs, grubs, soft plastic crayfish and crankbaits are always good bets. If the murky conditions persist, try live worms or rattling crankbaits so the fish can rely on a sense other than sight to find your presentation. Rainbow trout and huge carp are also possible catches. Read more about Massacre Rocks in next week’s Playing Outdoors section!

Getting there: Take I-84 and I-86 east toward Pocatello. Exit 28 leads directly to Massacre Rocks State Park on the Snake River.

South Fork Boise River (Trout)

Flows should start dropping any day now, and early fall fishing on the South Fork should hit its stride. Hoppers, foam attractors, mayflies and pinks have been catching fish on top, while stonefly and mayfly nymph patterns are the best bet when the fish are feeding below the surface. Spin anglers can also pick up fish on spinners and spoons — just be sure to modify your lures to a single, barbless hook. Fall is a great time to fish the South Fork because as the water drops, it’s easier to navigate and hit holes, riffles and eddies that aren’t as obvious — or accessible — when the water is high. Remember the special trophy regulations if you want to keep fish, although most anglers practice catch-and-release on this big rainbow stream.

Getting there: Fish between Arrowrock Reservoir and Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

Brownlee Reservoir (Catfish)

Brownlee (and most water on the Snake River system) has been fishing well for catfish, with anglers landing some big channel cats and flatheads in recent weeks. Lots of different baits work on catfish this time of year, and I’ve seen anglers using everything from live worms and Mormon crickets to chicken livers, homemade or store-bought catfish doughs and stink baits, dead fish parts and even crankbaits. At Brownlee, fish steep dropoffs, ledges or deep channels for catfish. Flatheads, in particular, like heavy cover such as submerged logs and stumps. Bass fishing is solid in the shallower coves and off rocky points — try jigs, jerk baits, flukes or soft plastic creature baits that mimic crayfish. Brownlee also has some nice schools of panfish, especially crappie. Try fishing with small, brightly colored tube jigs or hair jigs in 20 to 30 feet of water.

Getting there: Take I-84 west and access the lake through Weiser on the Idaho side or Huntington on the Oregon side.

Local Ponds (Mixed Bag)

As the days grow shorter, it becomes tougher to get in an evening of fishing after work. If you find yourself crunched for time, you can always run to a local pond — sometimes with exciting results. I won’t spill anyone’s trade secrets, but Kleiner Pond in Meridian is well-stocked with trout, Duff Lane Pond near Middleton is a good largemouth bass fishery and the Caldwell Rotary Ponds have a variety of species, including bluegill (which usually bodes well for fishing with kids). Over the years, I’ve seen everything from sturgeon to big channel catfish and monster carp come out of small ponds, so you never know what you might bump into. Bring a variety of tackle — spinners, jigs, flies, soft plastic bass lures, some top-water plugs, a container of night crawlers and a jar of Power Bait are a good place to start.

Getting there: Fish & Game stocks ponds throughout Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Middleton and Caldwell.

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