It’s a great time to be an angler in Idaho! With everything from rivers and large reservoirs to small ponds and alpine lakes available, it’s mostly a question of where and how you want to catch fish. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Snake River & Reservoirs (Sturgeon, Catfish, Bass)
Sturgeon fishing is available year-round in Idaho, but I’m seeing a spike in catch rates as the Snake River calms down and big fish turn their attention to feeding on abundant summer forage. It takes practice to get sturgeon holes dialed in, but targeting deep, slow-moving water with cut bait fished on heavy tackle is the basic recipe for landing a monster. If you want to learn more about catching sturgeon—and get some hands-on experience—check out my Sturgeon Seminar! Other species are heating up on the Snake and its reservoirs, too. Smallmouth bass are crushing anything that looks like a crayfish, while anglers are hauling in lots of channel catfish on live worms, cut bait and Mormon crickets.
Horsethief Reservoir (Trout, Kokanee)
I’m hearing good things about the trout fishing at Horsethief Reservoir near Cascade. Anglers are catching lots of pan-sized rainbows by flinging bait from the shore or trolling with spinners and wedding rings from a boat. Most of the fish are cookie-cutter hatchery rainbows, but Horsethief also offers a shot at brown trout, Kokanee salmon and holdover rainbows that can weigh a couple pounds. For steady action and fairly easy access, it’s a good bet. It’s also a beautiful place to fish in the mountains when temperatures get toasty down in the Valley.
Bruneau Area (Bass, Panfish)
Located less than 90 minutes from Boise, Bruneau is one of my favorite areas to explore. There are lots of fun, small lakes to choose from, including Crane Falls, Cove Arm and Bruneau Dunes. All are fishable with a float tube, pontoon or other small watercraft, and bass fishing is usually dynamite throughout the summer. Soft plastics, spinnerbaits and topwater frogs are a few of the baits that will entice hungry, aggressive bass. Bluegill, crappie and perch are also found in abundance—target these smaller species using panfish jigs tipped with worms, cut bait or crappie nibbles.
Puget Sound (Chinook Salmon)
Lean salmon runs have slowed Chinook fishing in Idaho, so head west if you need a salmon fix. My wife and I visited Seattle last weekend and booked a trip on the Puget Sound. I’ll write more about that soon, but there are lots of Chinook coming in from the ocean, and they’ll be available to anglers in the Sound and the Columbia River for the foreseeable future. Trolling with spoons, hoochies or cut plug herring is the top method, but hover fishing with bait will come into play as the fish progress up the Columbia. I recommend two guides in particular: All Rivers and Saltwater Charters and Hester’s Sportfishing.