Warm Lake (Ice Fishing)
With Treasure Valley temperatures in the 50s, it might take a little extra effort to get out on the hardwater. One cool spot to check out is Warm Lake, located 26 miles northeast of Cascade. I was there last weekend with some friends, and the lake had a solid 10 inches of ice (though it was slushy and wet on top, which is pretty much unavoidable with all the snow they’ve been getting up north). Our group experienced the typical ice fishing bite — lots of nibblers, fewer solid takes and a bit of a mixed bag on lure preference and depth. On the plus side, we enjoyed a four-species day, icing Kokanee salmon, some nice rainbow trout, a brook trout and a bull trout. Warm Lake also has elusive Mackinaw trout, and an angler fishing 30 yards away from us lost what had to have been a large Mackinaw or bull trout late in the afternoon. We fished in about 30 feet of water, and most of our action came within a few feet of the bottom or the surface. Small jigs tipped with worms and salmon eggs or a worm/marshmallow combination seemed to get the most attention. It takes at least two-and-a-half hours to get to Warm Lake from Boise, but the cozy cabins at North Shore Lodge make for a fun weekend getaway. I’ll have more on the Warm Lake ice fishing scene in an upcoming Fish Rap column.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade, then turn right on Warm Lake Road and follow it 26 miles to the lake. The road is plowed regularly, but four-wheel drive is recommended.
Boise River (Trout)
Spring-like weather seems like the norm here in town, and anglers are taking full advantage on the Boise River. Rainbow trout are the dominant catch, and I’m seeing just as many wild fish as hatchery planters this winter. Wily brown trout, whitefish and even a few holdover steelhead are possibilities, too. Fly anglers are catching fish on small midge or baetis patterns, along with hare’s ear or pheasant tail nymphs and streamers. Keep your eyes peeled for a dry fly hatch on those 55-degree afternoons! If you’re fishing a spinning setup, throwing spinners and spoons through deep holes and current pockets should produce some action. Worms, shrimp and salmon eggs are popular bait choices this time of year.
Getting there: Fish & Game stocks rainbow trout all along the river, from Barber Park to Glenwood Bridge in town and on down through Eagle and Star.
Snake River (Mixed Bag)
Warm temperatures have bass anglers stirring, and a few fish are following suit. I’ve seen bass caught at C.J. Strike, Swan Falls and Brownlee, and a few anglers are even putting boats out. Catch rates aren’t likely to match what we’ll see when spring truly arrives, but bigger bass often are the first ones to become active. Fish slow and deep with jigs and drop shots, or try bumping a deep-running crankbait along at a sluggish pace. I have also seen anglers catching catfish and sturgeon along the Snake. Sturgeon don’t mind colder water and should hit on the usual cut bait, herring and squid. Warmer weather just makes it more comfortable for anglers. Catfish won’t be jumping in the boat, but I’ve caught both channels and flatheads in February before. Bait fishing with worms, cut bait or chicken livers should attract a few bites.
Getting there: Fish between C.J. Strike and Brownlee Reservoirs.
Lake Cascade (Ice Fishing)
Fishing for both trout and perch remains solid on Cascade, but last week’s heavy snowfall created a lot of slush on top of the ice. Four-wheelers are a no-go (snowmobiles should be fine), and high, waterproof boots are a must if you have any hopes of keeping your feet dry. Access was wide open before the recent snow, but road conditions and parking will be more of an issue now. Poison Creek on the north end of the lake and Blue Heron on the south are reliably plowed access points. Otherwise, you might have to hike in through some snow or explore for a car-friendly pulloff from which to launch your sleds. Gear-wise, fish are hitting on perch-colored lures tipped with worms, mealworms, Power Bait or cut bait. Trout tend to feed in 10 to 15 feet of water, while perch will hang out near the bottom.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. Popular access points include Poison Creek on the north end of the lake and Blue Heron closer to town. For the latest lake conditions and fishing reports in the Cascade area, call Tackle Tom’s at (208) 382-4367.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.