A closer look at Idaho's bighorn sheep conservation work.
I recently observed pictures on social media of anglers ice fishing on Lake Lowell near Nampa. Anglers and other recreationists going out on the ice on lower elevation lakes, reservoirs and ponds need to be very careful and be prepared with safety equipment. Have 20'+ of rope, never go alone and maintain distance between yourself and other anglers. If someone falls through the ice - don't rush to the hole. Remain calm and assess your situation before moving. Before attempting a rescue - call for assistance. Spread your weight out on the ice by laying down or rolling to the bank or a safe distance from the hole. Use a long stick, ladder or rope to assist anyone who's fallen through the ice to get back on top. If you've fallen through the ice, put both arms on the ice and kick like you are swimming. It is much easier to get back on the ice by kicking and pulling yourself forward with the help from a buddy holding a long stick or rope.
As temperatures start to warm, the edges of the ice can become unsafe. Pay attention to your surrounds because conditions can change rapidly.
Ice fishing over the weekend (Jan. 2 and 3) at the upper end of Cascade Reservoir was reported to be very good with anglers catching 10 - 12" perch at Poison Creek. Reports were of 150 people at the site Saturday morning. Tackle Tom's and Southwest Idaho Fishing Facebook pages show fish from several satisfied anglers.
On these bitter-cold winter days, it's easy to succumb to retail therapy at your favorite angling outfitter to re-stock for Spring. But while most anglers are enjoying a cup of cheer, you could be out enjoying prime fishing for the many species of game fish that Idaho has to offer!
Todays conditions were brisk: 20F ambient, 38F water temp, and post-frontal. I set out in search of the elusive cold-season Smallmouth Bass (a venture set aside for the self-punishing). My game-plan was to fish legendary CJ Strike with jigs and spoons along the usual target areas: rock bluffs and hard slopes in 30+ ft of water.
I am committed to landing just one bass amidst these winter months. But alas, chance did not hold that for me. I did, however, find myself gripped by adrenaline in the fight of my life against so many of the biggest native Rainbow Trout that this part of the Snake River has to offer. In the following paragraphs, I divulge my secrets intended for the hardy angler.
Sometimes you have to try what feels right and let chance take its course. Convention tells us that nearly all freshwater species are slow and picky this time of year. While this can prove to be true, I am not always in support of that thought.
The trout this time of year are very aggressive on sunny days in dead winter. Yellow Perch and Crappie are also always willing. All can be found in the same areas: deep holes surrounding structural points and dropoffs. My bait of choice was a crawdad plastic on a 1/2 oz. football jig. Electronics are important for the boat-angler, and the name of the game is elevation change.
If you fish from shore on a lake like CJ, you should aim to fish a steep dropoff, as is found on shore access points both above and below the dam. Fish are feeding in slack-current areas alongside main river flow. I fished near the spillway of CJ Strike Dam because it fits this terrain bill to a 'T'. The winning retrieve in today's scenario was a sweeping pull-and-float-down retrieve. Be sure to keep in contact with your lure by maintaining a semi-slack line, as most strikes will occur during the fall. You should cast, let the lure fall to the bottom, the sharply jerk your rod-tip up, and while your lure is falling again, slowly reel in to maintain contact. This jagged up- and-down motion replicates the dying minnows that fish this time of year feed on. Be sure to fan out your casts across all of your available range.
While this style, adapted from bass tactics, requires more work than just casting a crawler on a Carolina rig and waiting for a strike, you will find that you cover more water and your numbers will increase. It is also important to note that--in winter--you are still fishing the "off season," and your expectations should be much lower for numbers. If we only land one fish during this time of year, that is cause for celebration! And should your creel remain empty on the drive home, at least you spent the day out enjoying the beautiful sights offered by Idaho's intriguing winter season! Bring a stack of firewood and some snacks.
Whether you choose to enjoy the day with friends or in the solitude of fishing solo, do so safely and remember, if fishing were easy, they'd call it 'catching'!
For those who are interested, there is approximately 4" of ice on the upper end (Poison Creek area) of Cascade. Some daring souls have ventured out and drilled holes in the ice and we've had mixed reports of success on trout and perch.
Idaho Fish and Game staff are putting the finishing touches on improvements at Beaver Dick Park in eastern Idaho. Enhancements include replacement of the boat ramp, a new vault toilet, new docks and ADA improvements.
Our Engineering and construction crews work in all weather conditions to make sure access improvements are done as efficiently as possible. This service not only benefits anglers - but other outdoor recreationists, as well. If you enjoy recreating on lakes and rivers in Idaho and don't buy a hunting or fishing license - thank sportsmen and women across the state for giving you these facilities.