Idaho F&G: If You Can’t Go Skiing, Try Fishing


There’s not much snow in the mountains, so maybe its time to trade the ski poles for a fishing rod.

The drier and warmer than average weather is providing plenty of good fishing opportunities in Idaho this winter. There’s ice-fishing in many parts of the state, but anglers need to watch local ice conditions that vary from place to place. Most rivers and streams are open year round, and the lack of snow makes access easy. Many ponds are regularly stocked by Fish and Game.

And the steelhead season is open on parts of the Clearwater, Snake, Salmon, Little Salmon and Boise rivers.

Salmon Region: Anglers are still catching steelhead in the main Salmon River, primarily below North Fork, but colder weather and icing conditions are slowing the turnout. Good ice-fishing can be found at Williams and Jimmy Smith lakes.

Upper Snake Region: Ice-fishing is great on Mackay Reservoir.

Fishing is good at Ririe Reservoir, too, but the ice is marginal. Ice conditions will change rapidly with colder weather. For stream fishing, a good place to go right now is the Big Lost River below Mackay Dam.

Southeast Region: Ice-fishing for trout is best found at Deep Creek Reservoir, Chesterfield Reservoir and American Falls Reservoir. American Falls is known for slower catch rates but big trout. For pan fish, check out Montpelier Reservoir and Glendale Reservoir.

Magic Valley Region: Ice-fishing is focused on a few good icy locations, where the ice is 5 to 9 inches thick. These can be found at Hot Springs Landing on Magic Reservoir, Dog Creek Reservoir and the “backwaters” or inlet area on Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir. Most anglers are not venturing too far from shore but are reporting decent catch rates. On the other hand, the Little Wood and Fish Creek Reservoirs have 12 to 14 inches of ice, and fishing is good.

Because of the complete lack of snow, it’s easy to get to the Big Wood River and its tributaries for stream fishing. The best fishing is normally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on warmer days with nymphs and midges.

Other streams folks are hitting lately include the Little Wood River, lower Malad River and Rock Creek near Twin Falls.

Southwest Region: The Boise River, South Fork Boise and Payette River near Emmett offer good stream fishing for whitefish. For rainbow trout, head to C.J. Strike Reservoir where it’s not frozen and below C.J. Strike Dam on the Snake River.

Ice-fishing for trout is good at Horsethief Reservoir, and the road is plowed though rough and icy. Lake Cascade has plenty of ice and is producing large yellow perch and some trout.

Clearwater Region: Steelhead fishing is still going strong. Fish responded to the warmer weather and rain last week and moved out of Lower Granite Reservoir, and the fishing picked up. The higher temperatures have also kept the sturgeon biting, and people have reported catching some nice fish over the past three weeks.

The two best ice-fishing spots usually are Winchester Lake and Spring Valley Reservoir, but the ice conditions are hampered by the warmer weather.

Panhandle Region: Fishing the big lakes – Priest, Pend Oreille, and Coeur d’Alene – continues to be good. Boat launching is easy, the weather has been mild, and anglers have been doing well on lake trout in Priest, Chinook in Coeur d’Alene and rainbows in Pend Oreille.

Until colder weather returns, ice on some of the most popular lakes closer to Coeur d’Alene is nonexistent or marginal. Look to Bonner and Boundary counties for lakes with good ice and fishing for perch, bluegill and trout. These would include Kelso, Hauser, Twin, and Round, Smith, Brush, Bonner, Dawson, Perkins and Robinson Lakes.

Popular ice-fishing lakes that need a bit more ice for ice-fishing are Cocolalla for perch and Spirit Lake for kokanee.

To find out when and where fish have been stocked go to

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