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Joe's Fishing Hole: Take kids out on free fishing day
Joe’s Fishing Hole

Joe's Fishing Hole: Take kids out on free fishing day

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Tayler Doucette

Tayler Doucette with a nice little bluegill she caught at Zunino/Jiggs Reservoir last week. She was able to take six home and put a number of smaller ones back in the lake. This is a great place to take kids as bluegill are fairly easy to catch.

This Saturday, June 13, is Free Fishing Day. This is the one day of the year that anglers may fish without a license, though all regulations and limits apply. If you fish only once in a while this is a great chance to get out and fish without buying a fishing license. This is a great way to get the family out of the house for some fresh air and exercise as well as away from all the electronics.

If you’ve never fished with youngsters before, here are some tips for making it fun. While the cute little cartoon fishing poles are popular with children, they are often cheaply made and can easily malfunction. For just a few dollars more purchase a decent five-foot fishing rod combo that comes with a reel and line. For kids, a spincasting reel is the easiest to use and seems to cause the least problems.

Besides the fishing rod, you will need some hooks, some sinkers, a bobber and some type of bait as well as something to carry everything in. For hooks size 6, 8 or 10 bait hooks are your best bet for our area. I would recommend pinching down the barbs on the hooks with a pair of needle-nose pliers so that if your children catch themselves instead of a fish, the hook will come out easily.

Some small split shot sinkers as well as a small bag of egg sinkers will get you started. For bobbers, the red and white ones are easy for kids to see and very economical. I would recommend one to two inches in size.

For bait, worms are great and if you have a compost pile or good garden the kids can even spend an afternoon “catching” worms to take fishing. Cheese-style baits in jars are much less messy and will last for quite a while as long as the lids are fastened tightly when stored.

For information on where to take your children and how to set up your fishing line to catch fish go to NDOW’s website at There are also lots of how-to videos and illustrations available online.

Finally, if you are taking kids, you want them to have fun or they won’t want to go again. If the fishing is slow, they can easily get bored. If they want to throw rocks in the water, capture water bugs, play in the water or make lots of noise, remember it’s about them. Let them do it. Once they catch their first fish, they will be willing to put more time and effort into fishing.


Wildhorse is full, the water quality is good as is the fishing. Surface water temperatures are in the high 50s. Depending upon the day and the weather, fishing ranges from good to very good, both from shore and from boats. The usual PowerBait and worms for bait anglers have been working for trout. For fly fishermen midge larva and emerger patterns as well as hares ears and PT nymphs are good patterns to use. Black or olive wooly buggers are taking fish as well, though black is better as trout are eating black leeches. The water is still pretty clear for this time of year 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. Perch fishing has been good using small brightly colored jigs tipped with a piece of worm or just a piece of worm on a small hooked fished under a bobber. This week anglers were catching about 15 perch for every bass they were trying to catch. The Hendricks Arm has been very good for perch. Also target perch in just about any cove with some vegetation. With the lake spilling earlier this spring, fishing below the dam has been good for reservoir-sized fish. Smallmouth bass are still lingering near the beds, but should be coming off in a week or two. No black bass may be kept until July 1. The campground is open and is on a first come first served basis. As of last weekend, the state park was allowing camping at 50% of capacity.


This reservoir is also full and fishing for both trout and bass has been good. Surface water temperatures are starting to move into the low to mid 60s which will also help the bass bite. This spring SF has been stocked with more than 55,000 trout. Fly fishermen fishing chironomids (midge larvae) or balanced leeches under an indicator 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. 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. Boaters were finding fish on the graph on the west side of the lake between the dam, Jet Ski Beach and Fisherman’s Point. Big pods of catfish were observed near north corner of dam and west side flats, south end of reservoir by old ranger station usually good this time of year for catfish. Fishing below the dam in the river has been slow to fair. Bass fishing has been good for both smallmouth and largemouth using soft plastic baits in darker colors. However, no black bass may be kept until July 1. The state park campground is open at 50% of capacity. Please don’t use the sites marked with caution tape.


Jiggs has been stocked with about 3,000 catchable trout this spring and the fishing has been good for both trout and bluegill with an occasional bass thrown in for good measure. This is a great water to take children fishing as the bluegill are very cooperative and fairly easy to catch. Anglers have been catching keeper sized bluegill with a small bit of worm on a red hook suspended about 18 inches below the bobber. The same presentations as at South Fork should work well here for trout. Trout fishing has been fair to good. Bait anglers are doing best with worms under a bobber for bluegill and garlic flavored red or pink PowerEggs fished off the bottom using a slip sinker for trout.


At last report the lake was spilling but not very heavily and it should quit in the next week or so. 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. Fishing below the spillway has been good though is slowing down. This lake is scheduled to be stocked with 25,000 fish this week or next.


Monday, June 15 is the electric motor opener here at the marsh. Surface water temperatures at the main boat ramp are hovering around 60 degrees, just a bit cool for bass, but some are being taken. This should be a good year for bass fishing in the south Marsh. Fishing off the dikes in unit 21 for bass has been fair to good for bass depending upon the weather. The best time is after a few days of hot weather to warm up the water. Fishing is fair to good at the collection ditch for 13- to 18-inch trout with the occasional large trout being taken. Fishing in the ditch seems to improve on rainy or windy days. 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 PT’s, 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. The water temperature here is in the mid to high-50s. While boats aren’t allowed on the South Marsh until June 15, float tubes are. Fishing should be good for bass from a float tube as you head down the main channel.


The water level is good and trout fishing is fair to good and bass fishing is slow to fair. Some catfish are being taken near the dam and near the inlet. 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.


Fishing here is fair to good for 10- to 12-inch trout and fair for bass. The lake was stocked in late April with 2,000 rainbow trout. The usual worms, PowerBait, small spinners and flies should all work.


Fishing at Cave Lake has been good but the water level is low from a drawdown due to concerns with the dam. The usual small nymphs and crystal buggers are working for trout, with beadhead pheasant tail nymphs being very effective. The float tube launching area is closed and anglers should fish at the north end of the lake near the dam and main boat launch area. Other areas are muddy with very soft, deep mud along the shorelines.


Comins Lake is fishing well with a full lake and surface water temperatures starting to climb into the low 60s. Anglers are catching trout averaging 14 to 18 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 fishermen should use wooly buggers, leech patterns, and nymphs patterns (midges, beaded pheasant tails … etc.). Bass fishing is slow but should start to pick up with warming water. Comins has been stocked with approximately 8,400 trout this spring. If you catch a pike, please check to see if it has a radio transmitter tag near the tail. If it does, please return the fish to the water so that NDOW biologists can track its movements. If it doesn’t have the transmitter tag, please humanely dispatch the fish. Don’t put it back in the lake.


The reservoir is full and fishing has been fair to good. The usual springtime flies of wooly buggers, prince nymphs, hares ears and chironomid patterns should all work. Small spinners, PowerBait and worms should be effective as well. Illipah was stocked with 7,500 trout on May 1.


While the dam is fixed and the water level is fine, the crappie planted here are still not totally recovered and of catchable size yet. This reservoir is still in the rebuilding stage for both crappie and channel catfish. There may be a few catchable sized fish there this fall. Expect low water conditions.


The road to Angel Lake is open and the lake is ice free. The lake is about as full as it can get and is spilling into the creek. There are some large snowdrifts on the backside of the lake. Some minor fish loss due to winterkill, but many trout were seen cruising along the dam and in the mouth of the creek. The usual worms under a bobber or fished off the bottom with a slip sinker should work as should small spinners and rooster tails. Flies to try include flashback PT nymphs, small black or olive wooly or crystal buggers, olive and peacock soft hackles, hares ears and small leech patterns.


Most of the high mountain lakes are still inaccessible due to snow that we received last week. Depending upon exposure, some are starting to open up with the warmer weather Still snow on many of the trails once you get above 8,000 feet and the higher elevation lakes may still have some ice on them.


With the light winter, stream flows in almost all areas of the region are below normal and many are fishable though a few like the Jarbidge and the Bruneau aren’t. The East Fork of the Owyhee below Wildhorse Reservoir has been fishing well for reservoir sized fish that had gone over the spillway earlier this spring. Coon Creek Summit is still snowed in so you need to drive into Idaho to get to Jarbidge. You can get to the Bruneau from the Gold Creek Road, but the river is high and muddy. As of June 11, the east fork of the Owyhee was flowing at 117 cubic feet/second (cfs), the Bruneau River was flowing at a muddy 114 cfs, the Jarbidge at 84 cfs but is fishable upstream of the town, Salmon Falls Creek at a very muddy 199 cfs, Lamoille Creek at 75 cfs, the South Fork of the Humboldt approximately 100 cfs, Cleve Creek at 8 cfs and Steptoe Creek at 4 cfs. Steptoe Creek was stocked with 1000 rainbow trout in mid-May.


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