Jordan Rodriguez holding two crappie caught at Owyhee Reservoir in eastern Oregon.

Summer is upon us, and fishing is hot across our region. From targeting big post-spawn bass to hunting hungry schools of panfish, there are plenty of options for chasing warmwater species. River levels are also dropping, opening trout options that haven’t been angler-friendly in months. As you plan your upcoming trips, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Owyhee Reservoir (Crappie, Bass)

This eastern Oregon reservoir offers opportunities for big bass and abundant crappie. On a recent trip with my buddy Kevin Tucker, we spent the morning chasing bass and caught more than a dozen largemouth, with a big fish of four pounds. Owyhee is a trophy-class bass lake, so bigger fish are possible! The lake is full, so try buzzing spinnerbaits around flooded vegetation, or pitching soft plastics right into it. Topwater plugs, jigs and crankbaits are other lures to keep on-hand. At lunchtime, we switched to crappie fishing. After picking through a couple schools of small fish, we found some big ones and sacked up some 12-inch slabs for a fish fry. Owyhee is absolutely loaded with crappie, but many of the schools are tiny fish. If you catch a few of those, keep moving. The big ones will be grouped together, and once you find them, they are usually willing to eat panfish jigs, small swimbaits and lipless crankbaits. Remember: an Oregon license and boater safety card are required to fish Owyhee. And it’s a huge reservoir, so bring a full tank of gas!

Brownlee Reservoir (Mixed Bag)

Another summer option for multispecies action, Brownlee has been fishing well for bass, catfish and crappie. Bass aren’t hard to come by, but the big ones can be elusive. Be prepared to weed through lots of small and medium-sized smallmouth—which is still fun, especially if you have young anglers on board. Crankbaits, jerk baits, finesse jigs and Ned Rigs are a good place to start. Crappie are fewer and further between at Brownlee, but there’s a chance to catch slabs up to 16 inches if you find them. Crappie jigs, swimbaits and even jerk baits are good crappie catchers. Catfishing has been on fire—probably the best option on Brownlee right now—with anglers catching lots of channel cats and occasional flatheads on cut bait, shrimp and Mormon crickets. Flatheads are more aggressive predators than channel cats and will readily take a retrieve lure like a deep-diving crankbait.

Small Lake Update

Southern Idaho has dozens of small lakes, and summer is the best time to fish many of them. Almost all these fisheries have self-sustaining populations of largemouth bass and panfish (usually bluegill). Use weedless soft plastics, spinnerbaits, topwater frogs and crankbaits for bass. Size down to micro jigs, beetle spinnerbaits and small flies for bluegill (and don’t overlook other panfish opportunities, including crappie and perch). Some small lakes are stocked with rainbow trout, which will take spinners, Rapalas, flies or bait. Check the Idaho Fish and Game website for trout stocking reports, along with historical records of what fish have been recorded living in each lake. Hint: Bruneau is one area to explore for summertime small lake fishing.

River Update

The Boise River has receded to fishable flows, and anglers are catching rainbow and brown trout on Rapalas, crankbaits, flies and bait. It’s still moving pretty fast, so be careful, especially if you’re doing any wading…The Snake River has calmed down and cleared up, and fishing for bass and catfish has been good to excellent. For smallmouth, use tube jigs, Ned rigs, crankbaits, jerk baits, swimbaits and your favorite weedless soft plastics if the vegetation gets too heavy. Don’t be afraid to try topwater, especially early or late! For catfish, use a piece of shrimp or cut bait and focus on deep channels and swirling eddies…the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon is producing a good bite for nice brown trout. Flies are usually the weapon of choice, but anglers also have success throwing swimbaits, crankbaits and jigs. You need an Oregon license to fish the Owyhee, and all brown trout are catch and release. Tight lines!