LEWISTON – Late summer can be an odd season for anglers because sometimes it feels like fishing season is winding down, but in many parts of Idaho, summer-like weather typically lasts through September and into October. That means lots of time remains for fishing, and if you’ve been postponing a fishing trip, or learning the sport, you’ve still got time.
Savvy anglers know there are many reasons to fish this time of year, and if you’re a beginner, reasons to start fishing, or expanding on your knowledge if you’re a novice.
Here are 10 reasons why fishing is great during summer, and into fall.
1. It’s warm and sunny
Fishing is a great way to relax and enjoy a day on the water, and not only are summer days long and inviting, being near water is typically cooler when it’s hot outside. Long days mean you have plenty of time for day trips and weekend overnighters.
2. Rivers are low and comfortable
Most rivers are warm enough that you can wade without waders. Just put on a pair of wading boots, sandals, or an old pair of tennis shoes and go for it. Wading lets you reach more water to fish, and it’s just a fun, comfortable way to fish on a hot day.
3. It’s easier to read the water
During low flows, rivers are more defined with riffles, pools and transitions. This makes it easier to learn where the fish are lying, and when you find them, know how to recognize similar spots elsewhere in the river, or in other rivers. Lower water also means fish populations are condensed and with fewer places to hide, so they’re easier to find. This is also true for reservoirs, which typically get drawn down throughout summer — but beware, some can get weedy and shorelines muddy.
4. You only need basic fishing gear
There are certain times of year when you might need special equipment. Ice fishing comes to mind, or downriggers to reach deep water, but summer fishing typically just requires the basics.
Cast out a traditional spinner or spoon, or if you’re fly fishing, a big, bushy fly like an elkhair caddis, hopper or stimulator. There’s a good chance a trout will rise to the surface and take it.
Same goes with bait. You will be amazed how many species of fish you can catch with an earthworm from your garden, or a nightcrawler from your local bait and tackle store
5. Most waters are well stocked with fish
Fish and Game crews have been crisscrossing the state for months delivering fish to nearby lakes, rivers, reservoirs and ponds, and they’re there for the taking. Freshly stocked fish are usually reasonably gullible and will readily take bait or a lure. Fish and Game stocks trout and other species year round, which includes everything from fingerling trout to “magnum” trout that are over a foot long.
6. Warmwater fish are heat resistant
While trout often seek cooler water during the height of summer, many warmwater fish remain active and aggressive. Bass fishing can be excellent during summer and the fish can explode on a topwater lure skittered across the surface. It’s an exciting fishing experience that’s harder to duplicate other times of year. Catfish, crappie and perch fishing can be excellent and make for tasty fish fries.
7. Fish are growing bigger
Spring and summer are prime growing seasons for all kinds of fish, which means most fish have been getting larger since winter and spring spawning season when they often lose weight. It’s common for trout to grow about an inch a month, or more if they’re smaller fish. That means fish are in great shape right now.
8. It’s primetime for mountain lakes
These are true gems and found in some of Idaho’s most scenic places. Some mountain lakes remain frozen over until June and sometimes as late as July depending elevation and spring temperatures. That means the fish are active and hungry during summer while trying to fatten up for the long winter ahead. Mountain lakes are exciting opportunities to explore the backcountry and catch fish, but remember the season is short. Some lakes at high elevations can get snow covered in October (or have snowstorms in September) so don’t wait too long.
9. Less competition from other anglers
Many Idahoans turn their attention to other things in late summer and fall as school resumes and hunting seasons start. That means fewer anglers on the water and more opportunities for fishing and solitude, and a better chance to nab one of those coveted waterfront campsites.
10. Idaho fishing stays good well into fall
Idaho actually offers good year-round fishing, but you can often find summer-like temperatures well into October in many parts of the state. Some fishing, such as trout fishing lakes, reservoirs and ponds typically improve as water cools, and you also get a chance to catch steelhead when they are first returning to Idaho on their way back from the ocean.