Memorial Day weekend is coming and for many eastern Idaho families, that means fishing and camping.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game says it is stocking the region’s waters in preparation for the coming holiday weekend, often seen as the historic kickoff for the fishing season.
While many campgrounds and developed sites remain closed until June 1, many day-use attractions and dispersed camping sites will be open. One popular state park campground, Henry’s Lake, won’t open until May 30. Caribou-Targhee National Forest campgrounds will open June 1.
"It may be confusing planning your trips, and the simple, but the not-so-simple answer is to do some homework before you go to avoid disappointment, especially if you plan to use developed facilities, such as campgrounds, boat launches, picnic areas, etc.,” said Fish and Game’s Roger Phillips in a news release.
But even without camping, Henry’s Lake is expected to be popular.
“Access is open, you can put a boat on the water (at Henry’s Lake),” said James Brower, regional communications manager for Fish and Game. “Camping is going to be closed, so that’s going to be different for people. That’s a big draw during Memorial Day weekend.”
Brower said “every spot that can be filled” will be filled on opening day at Henry’s Lake. “It’s definitely an event. It’s a big one.”
One of the reasons people flock to Henry’s Lake is the fishing is usually great.
“Not only are they big, trophy size fish … but in the spring, they’re hungry,” Brower said.
Other areas worth taking the family to, include the Henry’s Fork River, Ririe Reservoir, the South Fork of the Snake River, American Falls Reservoir, Birch Creek, Stoddard Mill Pond (Island Park), Becker Pond, Blackfoot Reservoir and area lakes and ponds. Fish and Game reports that many of the places will be freshly stocked before the holiday weekend arrives.
In the Salmon area, Fish and Game says rivers and streams are expected to be in spring run-off mode (high and murky), but several kid-friendly ponds are stocked and ready to fish. Kids Creek Pond, Hyde Creek Pond, Hayden Creek Pond, Williams Lake, Blue Mountain Meadow Pond, Mosquito Flat Reservoir and Squaw Creek Pond are all worth a visit.
“Parents can watch their youngster’s eyes light up as they hook a feisty rainbow trout at many close to home and kid-friendly fishing spots,” Fish and Game biologist Mike Demick said in a news release. “Remember to keep it simple when fishing with kids. Using simple set-ups like worm/marshmallow combinations or Power Bait near the bottom or below a bobber will usually work well.”
Reports on waters closer to Idaho Falls are looking positive.
“There’s several hatches that have been going on the Henry’s Fork,” Brower said. “The big one is the salmon fly hatch coming soon.”
Ririe Reservoir is expected to produce smallmouth bass “especially around the willows around the edges and in the coves,” Brower said. Yellow perch have also been doing well at Ririe Reservoir.
Fish and Game is also reporting stocking fish at Pole Bridge on Willow Creek and at a new spot.
“We also have a new access agreement on Camas Creek with a landowner right where the Red Road crosses Camas Creek,” Brower said. He said that area will be stocked with fish.
One area that is fishing well right now is the South Fork of the Snake River just below the Palisades Dam and downstream to Irwin. Rainbow trout (there’s no limit on the South Fork) are spawning and gathering on their redds.
“People are fishing egg patterns and bouncing them off the bottom,” Brower said. “If you find the right spot … you’ll keep pulling them out of there and they’re pretty good size.”
Because the South Fork is running high this time of year, families are advised to be cautious near the water.
To get more information about specific recreation sites and where Fish and Game is stocking fish, go to these online links: idfg.idaho.gov/ifwis/fishingPlanner/stocking, parksandrecreation.idaho.gov and www.idahopower.com/community-recreation/recreation.