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Crappie fishing at Brownlee runs late into the season

November 25, 2017 01:37 PM

Brownlee Reservoir (Crappie)

Unseasonably warm temperatures have extended crappie fishing deep into November. Reservoir levels are favorable for launching a boat, and the fish are schooling up in 15 to 30 feet of water. Anglers can also reach fish from shore if they know where to look. Small, brightly colored panfish jigs are the ticket — tie on multiple jigs to increase your casting distance and double your odds. I’ve made two crappie trips to Brownlee this month. One was hot, yielding 30-plus fish, while the other was slow and only produced a half-dozen. The good news is that even if the fish are finicky, the ones you do catch will be good quality. Our crappie averaged between 10 and 12 inches on both trips, with a few 13-inch slabs mixed in.

Getting there: Brownlee is a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border. Popular access points include Steck Park near Weiser on the Idaho side and Spring Marina near Huntington in Oregon.

Boise River (Trout, Steelhead)

The Boise River continues to fish well for rainbow and brown trout, while two batches of hatchery steelhead provide a little extra intrigue. Fly anglers have been having success with streamers and nymphs, including copper johns, pheasant tails, hare’s ears and sculpins. Spinners, spoons, Rapalas, worms, Power Bait and marshmallows will also catch fish. If you want to target steelhead, fish near the five stocking points (Glenwood, Americana, Broadway, Park Center and Barber), but keep in mind that the fish will continue to move upstream. Steamers, jigs, spinners, spoons, plugs, shrimp and roe are popular methods for enticing a Boise River steelhead. Be sure to buy your $12.50 steelhead permit so that you can keep one, even if you accidentally hook into one on trout gear.

Getting there: Fish & Game stocks trout all along the river. Steelhead went in at Glenwood Bridge, Americana Bridge, below the Broadway Avenue Bridge behind Boise State University, at Park Center Bridge and at Barber Park.

Local Ponds (Trout)

It is a productive time of year to fish local ponds, especially with warmer weather keeping conditions pleasant and ice-free. Thousands of trout have been stocked in Treasure Valley ponds this fall, and they are usually willing to chase spinners, spoons, flies or bait. Ponds are a great place to take advantage of a two-pole permit. Set up one pole with bait on the bottom and let it sit, and then throw a spinner or spoon on your other rod. Most hatchery trout are pan-sized, but a few ponds also have larger brood stock fish that can exceed 20 inches and weigh several pounds. Do some exploring to find out what different ponds have to offer. In addition to trout, many have bluegill, bass, crappie and catfish.

Getting there: Fish & Game stocks ponds across the Treasure Valley, from Boise to Payette.

Henry’s Lake (Ice Fishing)

I recently made my first ice fishing trip of the season at Henry’s (more on that adventure in an upcoming Fish Rap column). The fishing wasn’t red hot, but anglers were catching some quality fish on small jigs and ice spoons tipped with worms and corn. The kicker with Henry’s is that one fish can make the long journey worth it — the lake regularly produces cutthroat trout over 5 pounds, brook trout over 2 pounds and cutthroat-rainbow hybrids that can approach double digits. It looks like warm temperatures have made conditions touch-and-go for this weekend, but the ice should be back in business by next week. If you are planning a run to Henry’s, call one of the Island Park tackle shops for an update or monitor conditions on the “Idaho Ice Fishing Reports” Facebook page so you don’t waste the trip.

Getting there: Take I-84/86 east to Pocatello, follow I-15 north toward Idaho Falls and take Highway 20 northeast to Island Park. It’s about a 5-hour drive from Boise, just shy of West Yellowstone.

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

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