Jordan Rodriguez and Jon Urban show off two nice rainbow trout caught in the Hagerman Valley.

March is traditionally one of the trickiest months for fishing in our region. With unpredictable weather and a transition from winter and ice fishing to early spring patterns, bite windows can be hit-or-miss. One strategy I like to employ this time of year is targeting fisheries, or areas, with a variety of species. That way, I can fish for bass if the trout bite is off, or transition to panfish as conditions dictate. As you plan your upcoming trips, here are some ideas to get you started:

Hagerman Valley (Mixed Bag)

Hagerman is one of my favorite spots for a spring fishing trip. Within a quick drive, you can fish the Snake River, the Oster Lakes, Billingsley Creek, Riley Pond, Riley Creek, and more. Trout are the prime target in many of these fisheries, including some giant stocked rainbows and unique Palomino trout (yellow, albino-phase rainbows). But there are lots of other species to pursue—on a recent trip, my buddy Jon and I landed rainbows, Palominos, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, tilapia and carp—and I also hooked a big sturgeon. Talk about variety! And speaking of variety, make sure to bring plenty of tackle. Spinners, Rapalas, crankbaits, spoons, worms and Power Bait are good options to carry. I like to multispecies fish with my ultralight rod, but bringing a medium-action rod for bigger trout is a good idea, and a heavy rod is a must if you plan to target sturgeon.  

C.J. Strike Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

Another multispecies hot-spot, C.J. Strike has been fishing well for trout, with bank anglers (bait) and boaters (trolling with spoons and pop gear) both finding success. The fish are great size this year, too! Panfish action has been fair, with perch outperforming crappie overall, especially for keeper-sized fish. There are schools of panfish in The Narrows and up the river arm. Vertical jigging has been the best bet. Bass are starting to stir. Recent tournament results were decent, and the best baits so far have been slow presentations like Ned rigs and tube jigs. As of this writing on March 18, water temps are in the low 50s.

Ice Fishing Update

Hardwater season is coming to an end, but there are still three viable options as of this writing.

  • Lake Cascade is fishing well, and the ice is surprisingly some of the best of this strange, strange ice season we’ve had. Perch are moving into shallow, weedy water to spawn. Perch colored jigs and spoons tipped with perch meat or maggots have been the ticket.
  • Horsethief Reservoir also has viable ice and has been fishing like its reliable self for pan-sized rainbow trout. Use small tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms or mealworms.
  • Magic Reservoir is still chugging along, with moderate catch rates for quality-sized rainbow trout. Only the north end every really froze this season, so that remains the place to go if you want to try it. Jigs and spoons tipped with worms or shrimp have been productive. Bring a plank—edges can be tricky on late-season ice.
  • I wouldn’t trust the ice anywhere else until next winter. Use caution and stay safe out there!

Boise River Update

  • Mere hours ago, the annual runoff hit the Boise River, which is rising fast and will likely be at near-flood levels soon. As is the case every year, the river will be (for the most part) unsafe and unfishable for several months. For me, it’s off the list until July.

Thanks for reading, and tight lines!