With a towering snowpack ranging from 150 - 200 percent of normal still to fill Idaho rivers this spring, theArmy Corps of Engineers has ordered Idaho Power to produce a 100-foot drawdown of Brownlee Reservoir. This will cause boat ramp access problems, but Idaho Power will try to modify ramps where possible.
The bad news is two-fold: putting a boat in will be inconvenient at best and may become impossible for some until the water level comes back up, while the rush of water through the gates at the dam will take as many as half the crappie with it.
The good news comes later, if prior experience with big drawdowns is a guide. Fishing in the long term could be improved in Brownlee and could be better right away in Owbow and Hells Canyon, as well as the lower Snake River below the dam complex.
Complaints last season of small crappie in Brownlee might be alleviated by these conditions, since it will primarily be crappie going over the dam just because of their numbers. The crappie left behind have room, then, to grow to a heftier size. Bottom-hugging smallmouth bass and catfish, will tend to stay in the reservoir rather than enter the river, so they will be less affected.
New fish going into the river below Hells Canyon Dam feed those that are already there. The sturgeon, bass and catfish in the river will have a feast, and also increase in size.
As to changes in fishing techniques, just keep in mind that because these three reservoirs will be flowing faster this season, the fish will be found more often in the deeper holes and eddies. Look for them downstream from rock outcrops and off the points.
Palisades and Jackson reservoirs on the upper end of the Snake are also being drawn down in order to catch the anticipated snow melt.