For those who like to celebrate Memorial Day weekend with a fishing rod in hand, there are some great places in southeast Idaho where you can reel in some fun.
Bear Lake: Known for its turquoise blue water, this massive lake which sits in both Idaho and Utah is always a popular spot. Trophy cutthroat and lake trout swim these waters, but you will need a boat and a tackle box of silver spoons or crankbaits to get the job done. Troll between 35–55 feet for lake trout and cutthroats. Trout limit is 2; only those cutthroat trout with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept. If it is possible to get tired of fishing, Bear Lake’s beaches are perfect for building sandcastles, wading, swimming, paddle boarding, and so much more.
Snake River below American Falls Dam: Though this section of the river is open to fishing year round, harvest of game species is only allowed from the Friday preceding Memorial Day (this year it is May 22) through October 15. During the catch-and-release season (October 16 through Friday before Memorial Day weekend), anglers need to remember that no bait is allowed and barbless hooks are required. This section of river holds plenty of smallmouth bass, rainbows, cutthroats, and browns—and catching rainbows pushing 10 pounds is not unusual. Bass limit is 2 (any size), and the trout limit is 6 of which only 2 can be over 16 inches and only 2 may be cutthroats. Don’t have a boat? No worries. There are access points for some bank fishing… just be careful as water levels can be a bit high for wading this time of year.
Lamont Reservoir: Located about three miles east of Preston, Lamont Reservoir is great fishing for bluegill, largemouth bass, perch, and rainbows. Fish from the ADA-accessible docks, from the shore, or from your boat or float tube. Spinner baits fished slowly work well for bass this time of year while small plastic jigs tipped with a piece of worm are the ticket to fast and furious bluegill action.
Winder Reservoir: This water body which is located 6 miles north of Preston holds rainbows, largemouth bass, perch, and bluegills. This is a great place for spin fishing or flyfishing, however, it must be done from shore or float tube. There are no boat ramps or docks. No motorized boats allowed. Winder is a wonderful place to take the family fishing. During late spring, the bluegill bite is phenomenal, and young anglers have no problem catching plenty of fish. The shoreline near the road is very kid-friendly and provides plenty of unobstructed casting lanes for inexperienced anglers. For bass this time of year, fish spinner baits slowly. A small plastic jig tipped with a piece of worm is the way to win over a bluegill. The opportunity to catch a trophy fish here is pretty limited. There are a few large bass lurking around but they are not in abundance.
Community Fishing Ponds: Don’t forget that big fun comes in small packages! Community fishing ponds like Bannock Reservoir and Edson Fichter Pond in Pocatello, Jensen Grove in Blackfoot, and Upper Kelly Park Pond in Soda Springs are stocked regularly with rainbows, easily accessible, can be fished from the shore, have simple rules to follow, and are perfect for anglers of any age and skill level. These fisheries also have other amenities available for family fun… trails for biking and walking, play areas for kids, picnic locations, and much more! Just remember that these spots tend to be very popular, so social distancing may be a challenge during busy weekends.
What you won’t see this Memorial Day weekend: In the interest of public health and safety due to COVID-19, the Idaho Fish and Game fishing trailer will not be making its usual stop at Edson Fichter Nature Area in Pocatello over Memorial Day weekend, nor will it be making its rounds to southeastern and eastern Idaho fisheries in June. Any future summer dates for the fishing trailer will be posted on Fish and Game’s website if and when they become available.
Things to consider as summer fishing season approaches:
• Even with COVID-19 concerns changing the way we are currently living, working, and recreating, you can still get outside for some fishing adventures. Just remember to follow public health recommendations for social distancing, even when outdoors.
• If you still need to purchase your fishing license, you can once again do that at your nearest Fish and Game regional office or favorite vendor; but, this can also be done via telephone at 1-800-544-8685 or online at https://idfg.idaho.gov.
• Before you pack your camping gear or hook up your boat, be sure to check on campsite or facility availability. Many campgrounds or boat ramps owned and operated by private entities or government agencies may be closed or have modified operations to address concerns for public health. To get more information about specific recreation sites, check out the links found at https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/fish-await-facilities-may-be-limited-memori....
• Don’t forget about the best tool any angler should have at their fingertips… the Idaho Fishing Planner! Found on Fish and Game’s website home page, you can find detailed information about Idaho’s waters, stocking reports, fish species, facilities, maps and rules.