Boise, Idaho is a great area to ice fish. With plenty of reservoirs and trophy fish to catch, you will not run out of fish to find in the desert and mountain areas. Idaho does not disappoint when it comes to ice fishing.
- Horsethief Reservoir
- Warm Lake
- Cascade Lake
- Payette Lake
- Mann Creek Reservoir
- Magic Reservoir
- Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir
- Little Wood River Reservoir
- Lake Walcott
Ice fishing is picking up in popularity in Idaho and more places becoming prime spots to ice fish. My article includes some of my favorite areas and the ones that are most fitting for bigger groups. Check out what places I suggest so that you can get ahead of the game!
Types of Fish: rainbow trout, brown trout
This is a smaller reservoir that is stocked with lots of rainbow trout and brown trout. If you are a trout kind of person, I suggest going here. The fish are a pretty good size here and you won’t find a lack of them. The area is beautiful with lots of trees and some hills that you can see out in the distance.
The only downside I can see to this place is the lack of variety in fish. Even that is not much of a negative point because trout are great for catching.
You can bring motorized vehicles out on this lake once it freezes over. This is a great place to bring friends and teach new people the ways of ice fishing. This sport is growing and I think more people should try it out.
A couple of years ago, they had an invasion of bullheads and the fishery was drained. They have come back from it and the fish are thriving again. The fish are not huge right now but the last few times they have measured the fish, they were over 6 inches.
The reservoir has a few more narrow parts near the top that eventually open up to bigger areas. You can use this to your advantage. When the ice starts to freeze over, the fish will start to move towards areas that are not as frozen. If you are going to ice fish early in the season, try letting a few lines down near where the body of water starts to open up in a bigger area.
This might help you catch more fish since they will be migrating to larger waters as the ice freezes. You might catch them on their way out! I have plenty of other tips, specifically tips about catching crappie. I suggest checking out the article because it goes more in-depth on this idea and has some awesome tips.
Types of Fish: kokanee, lake trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish
Situated nearby Horsethief is Warm Lake. The look of this place is similar to Horsethief with plenty of trees and hills to look at in the distance. The main difference that I have found is there is much more variety here than there was at Horsethief Reservoir. Besides the many types of trout, you have the mountain whitefish and that is basically the only other type of fish besides trout. Idaho just likes their trout.
I think this place has a similar feel to the last one. A good place to bring friends and family. A great place to bring someone who is new to ice fishing and wants to give it a try. You can bring motorized vehicles out on the ice once again. And they have plenty of camping space if you plan on being there awhile.
They have plenty of fish to go around. If you find that you want a change of scene or that they are too many people at Horsethief, give this place a look-see.
If you want to take a family trip out here for a weekend, there are a couple of places to stay. The North Shore Lodge & Resort is right on the lake. They have cabins you can stay in. I have done this once and I really liked it. I recommend it! The only worry I have is if there has been a recent snowstorm, Warm Lake is difficult to get to. It can be pretty unsafe. Check the weather in the area before you go and see if the roads are cleared up.
Types of Fish: bluegill, bullhead catfish, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, coho salmon, sunfish, kokanee, yellow perch, mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, white crappie
Lake Cascade is located in the Treasure Valley. This lake is absolutely breathtaking. On one side is a valley and the other is a large hill. This lake stretches on for what seems like forever. The sunsets here are amazing. I love to visit this place if you could not tell.
There is plenty of camping space here so bring your friends and family out for a weekend trip and see if they can brave the cold. I really enjoy ice fishing with others. It is an experience I highly recommend.
One of the best perks about fishing here is the amount of variety in fish. You can find over 10 species here. You probably will not ever get bored of this place. The lake is pretty big (47 square miles!) and it is stretched out. There are parts that offshoot and I suggest using that to your advantage.
A fun fact about the fish here is that Lake Cascade actually has a national reputation for their over-sized perch. The fish here also holds state records for their size. You will not be disappointed by the fish here. Who knows, maybe you will catch the fish to hold the next record?
I know I mentioned it earlier but you can catch the fish while they migrate to warmer, bigger areas. They will move away from the smaller, more frozen areas and you can catch them as they are retreating to bigger areas.
Types of Fish: kokanee, lake trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout
Payette Lake is one of those places that is seldom used, at least for ice fishing. It is kind of out of the way and it just has not been a hotspot for people to go. This area is pretty unique because over thousands of years ago the lake was made from a massively tall 1,000-foot glacier. To add to the perspective, the glacier 2.5 miles wide and 8 miles long.
If you would rather ice fish alone, I recommend this place. Just because people do not go here often does not mean it is not worth your time. There are some pretty big trout here that are ripe for catching. What you will find here are different kinds of trout. That is the haul here. Sometimes I want to practice in solitude and really pay attention to what I am doing. I want to be connected with what is happening in the water so I find somewhere quiet.
The people of this area love their lake and they have plenty of lore about it. There is a fictional monster that people talk about living in the water but it is probably just a big fish or folktale. either way, make sure you take care of the place during your time on the lake. These people take pride in their lake.
Mann Creek Reservoir
Types of Fish: largemouth bass, redband trout, white crappie, rainbow trout
Mann Creek is a pretty solid place that you can always count on. The reservoir is stocked 3 times a year with your classic Idaho fish. The fish here are healthy and prime for taking. I have gone here a couple of times. I like to go here when I just want to ice fish and I really do not care what I am getting. It has a good variety without being too much.
The thing about Mann Creek that stands out to me is that it is a two-story fishery. My first thought when I heard that was that they had a lower level and higher level separated by a dam or something to hold the water back. Not so.
It means that the reservoir is able to carry warm-water fish and cold-water fish. The top portion of the water column is warmer where the warmer water species can exist and the lower portion is colder for the fish that thrive there.
I think this is an amazing feat and it makes a single area able to inhabit multiple species of fish. That is why it has these different kinds of fish. I wanted to point that out because it will help if you are targeting certain fish.
If you want to warm-water fish you know to fish closer to the top of the reservoir. I hope that this knowledge will help you in the long run when you go to either Mann Creek Reservoir or any other place that has a two-story fishery.
Types of Fish: yellow perch, brown trout, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout
A couple of hours away from Boise in Central Idaho is Magic Reservoir. This place is probably as you guessed, magical. It is quite a majestic place. The water is pristine and the trees are green and thriving. The classic combo of trout and perch are here to be caught.
You can fry them out and have a good meal too. The fish will not grow as big as the Lake Cascade or some others but they will be big enough for a meal. This is a popular destination for ice fishers in Central Idaho, plus the beautiful area brings in people year round. Many younger anglers come to this place. Especially since the sport is picking up in popularity with the younger crowd.
Something to be aware of: The water levels are changing often because of irrigation demands for the surrounding area. Because of this, some areas might be without fish because of the low levels. Fortunately, during the winter there will not be as much of a problem with irrigation. It only really matters if a lot of water was taken before the reservoir froze over.
Some people in this area swear their lives upon the “magic sandwich” which is a treble hook tipped with the most bizarre bait I have ever heard of: pieces of worm, marshmallow, and corn. I have never done it because it sounds crazy but if you are feeling adventurous, go for it! Let me know how it goes and if it is effective.
Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir
Types of Fish: cutbow trout, bluegill, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, white crappie, rainbow trout, bluegill, pumpkinseed, sunfish
Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir is a huge 14-mile stretch of water that starts at the top with the Salmon Creek Dam and ends just a little ways away from the Nevada border. Along with the massive size of the lake is a wide variety of fish. This place is a great spot to bring your friends and family. There are plenty of camping spots for you to stay while you are here. There is not a shortage either because of the size of this reservoir.
The ice fishing here and access points may vary depending on how the weather is. This is a high desert area so it gets pretty cold and snowy in the winter. you can bring motorized vehicles out here, assuming you can get your vehicle in a good place to get on the ice. This tends to be a popular area and you will probably find areas already laid out and able to be reached that were created by other people.
Salmon Falls has some huge walleye. Many trophy fish are found here. If you are itching to catch some big walleye in the winter, this is the place. Some of the biggest walleyes I have ever found were found here at Salmon Falls Creek. I suggest using some minnows and a slip bobber rig. That always seems to work for me.
Little Wood River Reservoir
Types of Fish: brook trout, rainbow trout
Little Wood River Reservoir is filled with trout! I like this place. It is simple. I know what to expect from it. Little Wood is just southeast of the Sawtooth National Forest. While you are here you should check out the Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is incredible, but that is not what I am talking about today.
Something to be aware of: In the mid-region of North America, there is something called, “January Thaw” and that means that the temperature rises a bit during one of the weeks January. This is important to note because the thickness of the ice will go down. When you go out on the ice during this time, I suggest checking the ice and being thorough so you can avoid danger.
I love to trout fish here. It is simple and one of my favorite places in Idaho is right nearby. The national forest is just up ahead and so is Bell Mountain. Little Wood is great to go to when you are visiting other areas as well during the winter.
Types of Fish: yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, sunfish
Once you are ready to hit the big leagues, come to Lake Walcott. In this high desert area, you will find the toughest of fish under the ice ready to give a run for your money. Bring all of your gear. Your cameras, sonar devices, best lures, and your most attractive bait. Perfect your art of jigging and give this place a whirl.
The amount of fish here are not as plentiful as other areas. The more experienced will catch some pretty big fish. Bring your A-game and you will find some pretty impressive fish. I struggle at this place but it makes for a more entertaining ice fishing experience. I love the rainbow trout that I have found here.
If you are planning on making a trip up here, bring your cross country skis. There are plenty of places to cross country ski and it is a great way to take a break from intense ice fishing. Once you’ve had your break, sink your line for some more incredible fish. Happy fishing!