South Central Idaho Trout
South central Idaho might appear to be the least interesting region of the state for trout anglers but it holds unheralded treasures. Irrigated farmland dominates the landscape. The middle portion of the Snake River, which waters rich crops, also provides big fish. Spring-fed creeks in the Hagerman Valley will surprise the most sophisticated flyfisher. Native cutthroats still hide in small streams in the mountains bordering the south of this region.
Rainbow trout can grow large in the Snake River. The big ones are old and smart, tricky to catch and not generally recommended for the impatient novice. Kamloops in Lake Walcott, a power and irrigation impoundment east of Rupert, are easiest to catch in the spring by trolling; they get big fast in the nutrient-rich reservoir. The whitewater tailrace river below Minidoka Dam yields an occasional monster if you can find the right hole on the right day but local anglers do best and they give up their secrets grudgingly. This is big water that has killed more than one careless angler so don't take chances here. The canyon below Milner Dam downstream can be tough access but also harbors big rainbows in pools and riffles. Hagerman Valley still further down the Snake River is known for the largest springflow in the world. Spring creeks like Billingsley Creek can educate a flyfisher and parts of the river itself, especially where there is spring inflow, are known for rainbows up to 10 pounds. Escapees from the numerous hatcheries keep the river full of smaller rainbows. Some small reservoirs such as Sublett Reservoir on the southeast side of the region have a rich rainbow tradition, sometimes yielding fish over five pounds. Magic Reservoir draws hundreds of boat and bank anglers who go after hatchery rainbows that grow well here but seldom attain more than a couple of pounds before they are caught. The Big Wood River just below Magic Dam can be great big trout water under the right conditions.
Brown trout lurk like muggers along the Snake River wherever temperatures are not too extreme but they tend to be sly old fish that most anglers never suspect live here. From Milner Dam to Murtaugh is the best stretch to search. The Little Wood River runs through sagebrush desert so unobtrusively that some travelers never see it but it offers some of the best brown trout fishing, particularly in the fall, of any river in the country. Magic Reservoir and Sublett Reservoir also give up some browns, some to eight pounds from Sublett. Hagerman Valley waters including Billingsley Creek can reward the brown trout specialist.
Cutthroat trout tend to be smallish in this region. They are native to the tiny streams and beaver dams of the South Hills.
Brook trout have never gained a strong finhold in this region. Lake trout are not a consideration, either.
For more information about the southcentral region of Idaho, visit our Southcentral Idaho Information Page, or our Southcentral Idaho Services and Accommodations Page.