Whether you’re a first-time angler or an old salty vet, fishing is one of the best outdoor adventures in Southern Idaho. The whole state is known for its ruggedness, but anglers across the country are flocking to its lower half in search of big catches — the kind they may tell their grandkids about one day.
“Southern Idaho is a fantastic place to fish for several reasons,” says David Parrish, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Fisheries program coordinator. “First, we have a plethora of fish species to pursue, and most are within an hour’s drive from Twin Falls. What I like best is the diversity and the ability to select a destination based on my mood.”
Hitting the Hot Spots
Southern Idaho brims with spectacular places to cast a line. In the southernmost part of the state, Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir is one of the few places in the state that feature walleye, a Midwest-imported species. The reservoir also has yellow perch, black crappie, rainbow trout and smallmouth bass.
“This is one of the few places where I’ve seen fly anglers be just as successful catching bass as they are on rainbow trout,” Parrish says.
For anglers after the smallmouth bass, Parrish recommends heading for the rocky points jutting in the reservoir during spring and fall.
Flys Out on the Big Wood River
The Big Wood River is known far and wide for its breathtaking views. But for locals in the know (and visitors who have done their homework), it’s even more famous for its unparalleled fly fishing, producing trout 18 inches long and up. What makes this river special is that while waiting for a big bite, people can take in the spectacle of rows of cottonwood trees lining the length of the river. In the fall, the leaves put on a spectacular display, changing from green to an infinite gradient of yellow. This matching of visual poetry with a sporting wonderland keeps anglers coming back year after year.
One of the newest fishing ponds in the area is located at Castle Rocks State Park. To start the 2015 season, its 1.3-acre fishing pond was stocked with 750 rainbow trout. Park Manager Wallace Keck explains that the park wanted to add another aesthetic feature to enrich visitors’ experiences.
“So when one comes to camp, hike, rock climb, shoot photography, go birding, etc.,” he says, “You can now also include a little fishing. We want visitors to have multiple recreational opportunities and stay with us for a few days or few weeks.”
How to Land the Big One
Each angler has his or her own unique perspective about the best way to snag a prize catch. From the right kind of lure to selecting the perfect spot, fishermen have spent years perfecting their craft. But Doug Megargle, regional fishery manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, says that visitors should focus not on the craft, but the experiences they share on the water.
“My best fishing advice is to fish with family or a friend and focus on the experience and not the harvest. It’s about getting out and making memories,” he says.
Parrish shares Megargle’s emphasis on the process, rather than the product.
“For me,” he says, “Fishing success is not measured by the number of fish caught or the size of the ‘big one,’ rather it’s about the unpredictable memories and experiences.”