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I usually write this the weekend before Memorial Day, but after watching some boats being launched and retrieved this past week at South Fork, this is will give new boat owners a chance to practice well before the first busy boating weekend of the year.

The boat landing is divided into three areas. First, there is the pre-launch area or the ready lane. This is where you should prepare your boat for launching. Next is the ramp, where the boat is actually launched into or retrieved from the water. Finally there is the parking area where the boat and trailer are stored while boaters are on the water.

The pre-launch or ready lane is where you prepare your boat for the water so that a minimum of time is spent launching the boat into the water. Remove tie-downs and the engine support. This is also a good place to disconnect the trailer lights. Now is the time to load and stow any gear that will be taken onto the water. Check your boating systems such as the bilge pumps, lights, horn, tilt motor and steering. Make ready any docklines and fenders and of course don’t forget to install the drain plug!

Once you are ready and it is your turn at the launch ramp, get the vehicle and trailer lined up and back down the ramp far enough that the inlet for the engine cooling water is covered so that when the motor is started, the engine is getting cooled.

Disconnect the safety chain and winch hook, lower the motor into the water and start the engine, letting it warm up a bit and back the boat off of the trailer. If you are launching the boat by yourself, obviously set the parking brake before leaving the vehicle and getting into the boat. Tie the boat up at the end of the dock and park your vehicle and trailer, returning directly to the boat.

If you have help, the person driving the boat should take the vessel a short way from the launch ramp to allow others to launch their boats and the driver should go park the rig. Once the driver returns to the dock, the boat may approach the dock allowing the person to board.

Reverse this process as you load the boat back onto the trailer taking care to not set the trailer too deep into the water. Line up the bow of the boat with the center of the trailer, driving the boat onto it slowly and letting the boat settle before winching it further.

Attach the bow strap and safety chain, make sure to raise the outboard up before driving up the ramp and clear the ramp areas as quickly as possible. Once up in the parking lot, reconnect the trailer lights, attach the tie down straps and remove any gear that isn’t stowed away on the boat. Remove the drain plug to allow the boat to drain. Finally clean, drain and dry the boat, as well as flush the engine with fresh water to help prevent the spread of invasive species. If you are a new boater, practice this at the lake during the week when it isn’t as busy, if you are able.

Wildhorse

The lake is full and spilling and the water is stained but not too badly. Surface water temperatures are in the low to mid 50s. While fishing has ranged from good to excellent this spring, it has slowed a bit, to just good. The usual PowerBait and worms for bait anglers have been working. For fly fishermen, this is chironomid season, so midge larva and emerger patterns as well as hares ears, and PT nymphs. Black or olive wooly buggers were taking fish as well, though black is better as trout are eating black leeches. Anglers should be aware that many of the shorelines are still soft and vehicles should stay away from the shoreline. The water is clearing and most anglers are fishing Penrod and Hendricks Arms as well as the beach in front of the State Park. Many fish are being caught from shore so be careful not to cast too far out and go past the fish. With the lake spilling, fishing below the dam has been good for reservoir sized fish. No black bass may be kept until July 1. The campground is open and with the weekend shaping up as sunny with highs around 70 degrees, it should be another great weekend for camping and fishing at Wildhorse Reservoir!

South Fork Resevoir

Very little change here as fishing at South Fork Reservoir is still slow to fair, with boaters doing better than shore fishermen. Surface water temperatures are in the mid to high 50s. Several boaters report good fishing in the middle of the lake using downriggers to get their flashers down about 15 feet. Over the past couple of weeks SF was stocked with approximately 25,000 trout. Fly fishermen fishing chironomids (midge larvae) are having the best luck. Most of the trout being caught from shore have been in the backs of coves, along Jet Ski Beach and Coyote Cove and by the dam, especially on the spillway side. Fishing small PT’s, hares ears or chironomid emergers just under the surface has worked. Blood midges fished just off the bottom are also worth a try. Red copper Johns have been working near the dam for fish averaging 18 to 20 inches over the past week. Boaters were finding fish on the graph on the west side of the lake between the dam, Jet Ski Beach and Fisherman’s Point. Water flows coming into the lake are turbid and causing muddy water at the south/inlet end of the lake. Fishing the edge where the muddy water meets the clear water can be productive. Catfish have become active and anglers may want to try raw shrimp fished in low light conditions or at night. Some fish have been reported being caught in the stream below the dam. No black bass may be kept until July 1.

Jiggs/Zunino Reservoir

Jiggs was stocked last week with approximately 2,300 trout, 300 of which are surplus brood stock averaging around 12 inches. The same presentations as at South Fork should work well here. The shoreline is still soft and anglers are being asked to keep their vehicles on the roads.

Wilson Reservoir

The lake is spilling hard and the water temperature is in the high 50s and turbid. Fishing is good for 12 to 15 inch fish that are in good shape. The same presentations, flies, baits and lures as used at South Fork, should also work well here. The county road is rough with lots of potholes while the BLM road is fair with a few ruts.

Ruby Lake NWR

Harrison Pass is open and not much has changed here as fishing continues to be good at the collection ditch for 13 to 18 inch trout with the occasional large trout being taken. Small brightly colored spinners were doing well. Wet flies have been performing better than the dries right now. These include the usual small nymphs such as PTs, hares ears, olive soft hackles, BWO emergers, red or blue copper Johns and prince nymphs as well as egg patterns in orange or pink. Wooly and crystal buggers in black, purple or olive are also working. In the crystal clear water of the collection ditch, if you can see the fish, they can see you. Go low, slow and wear drab clothing. Dredging of the Collection Ditch is completed. The South Marsh was recently stocked and fishing at the boat ramp has been good for stockers with an occasional larger fish as well as a few bass. The water temperature here is in the mid-50’s. While boats aren’t allowed on the South Marsh until June 15, float tubes are. Fishing should be good from a float tube as you head down the main channel.

Jakes Creek/Boies Resevoir

Very little change here as fishing continues to be fair to good. Trout fishing is fair to good, bass fishing is slow to fair, and fishing for catfish has been fair. Some catfish in the one to three pound class (great eating size) have shown up in the creel. The preferred bait for them here appears to be shrimp. The usual PowerBait and worms as well as small spinners are working for trout. Fly rodders should be using chironomids, hares ears, PT nymphs, copper Johns, and black or olive wooly buggers.

Cold Creek Resevoir

Fishing here is fair to good for 10-12 inch trout and fair for bass. The lake was recently stocked with 2,000 rainbow trout averaging 11 inches last week. The usual worms, PowerBait, small spinners and flies should all work. Expect muddy road conditions to get here.

Cave Lake

Cave Lake is ice free and fishing for nine to 12 inch fish has been fair to good. Surface water temperatures are in the high 40s but should cross into the 50s soon if they haven’t already done so by the time you are reading this. The lake was stocked with approximately 3,400 trout averaging around 11 inches. Most anglers are having luck with small worms, though PowerBait is also catching fish. Fly rodders should be using small olive or black bead head crystal buggers, small olive wooly worms, hares ears and prince nymphs. On warmer afternoons if a hatch is seen, small Adams, black ants, Griffith’s gnats, and red or yellow humpies should all work. Expect the lake to be stocked sometime in the next few weeks.

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Comins Lake

Comins Lake continues to fish well as we move into May with surface water temperatures in the mid-50s. Anglers are catching trout averaging 16 to 20 inches on a variety of tackle. Panther Martins, spoons, PowerBait, salmon eggs, and night crawlers should all do well for the majority of bait fisherman. Fly fisherman should use wooly buggers, leech patterns, and nymphs patterns (midges, beaded pheasant tails … etc.). Half of the spring fish allotment were stocked two weeks ago and the remaining fish will be stocked later this month.

Illipah

The reservoir continues to fill with spring runoff and is turbid at the inlet end. The lake is ice free, approximately 85% full and fishing is fair to good. The usual spring time flies of wooly buggers, prince nymphs, hares ears and chironomid patterns should all work. Small spinners, PowerBait and worms should be effective as well. The lake is turbid so spin fishermen may want to use flashy lures. The roads around the reservoir are soft muddy due to the wet winter and recent rain, so any anglers attempting to access the reservoir should be mindful of these conditions and stay on the gravel.

Willow Creek Reservoir

The reservoir is full! NDOW plans on planting the reservoir with catfish around the end of May and crappie later in the spring when conditions improve.

Angel Lake

The road to Angel Lake is closed. With the snow conditions of this winter, it probably won’t be open until Memorial Day weekend at the earliest.

Alpine Lakes

High mountain lakes are still frozen over and there won’t be a fishing report here until probably after Memorial Day or even later.

Streams

Stream flows are at or well above average and should continue to be heavy until much of the snow comes off the mountains. The water is turbid and difficult to fish. Shorelines are soft and while you may get into areas in the morning due to frozen ground, you may not get out in the afternoon due to mud. Travel with caution. Fish will be moving very slow due to cold water temperatures so slow down the presentations. Expect fishing to be slow in the streams though the E. Fork of the Owyhee below Wildhorse Reservoir has been fishing well for reservoir sized fish that have gone over the spillway. To get to the Bruneau or the Jarbidge, you still need to drive into Idaho first. As of May 10, the Bruneau River was flowing at 258 cubic feet/second (cfs), the Jarbidge at 137 cfs, Salmon Falls Creek at 550 cfs, Lamoille Creek at 149 cfs, the South Fork of the Humboldt at between 450 and 500 cfs, Cleve Creek at 30 cfs and Steptoe Creek at 18 cfs.

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