Regional Reports-West

Brownlee Reservoir

Brownlee Reservoir, the big impoundment of the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon, is the place for a major crappie adventure. Idaho Power, which manages Brownlee Dam, isn't fluctuating water in the lake, and that has made all the difference in terms of crappie numbers and availability. Average fish size is 7 to 10 inches, with good numbers reaching over 12 inches. Fish become active when the water heats to about 55 degrees. On the Oregon side, the Powder River Arm is the first spot crappies start hitting in late March and early April, followed by Tokyo Bay and the rocks on the upper end of Brownlee on the Idaho side. Use 1/16- and 1/32-ounce jigs; red-and-white is consistently the top producer. Fish jigs under a bobber or let them free fall. There is no daily bag or size limit. An Oregon or Idaho license is good on Brownlee from a boat (on the Powder River Arm an Oregon license is needed); on foot you must have a license from the state in which you're fishing. Shore access on public land is pretty good. Target rocky drop-offs. You'll find good boat launches at Steck Park and at Farewell Bend Campground on the Oregon side of the lake, and at Woodhead Park, farther down the lake on the Idaho side. Contact: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (541-963-2138); Idaho Game and Fish (208-334-3700); Idaho Power information line (800-422-3143).