Ponderosa State Park will not open for Memorial Day Weekend

You know it was a big snow winter when Ponderosa State Park, one of the most popular state parks in Idaho, can't open in time for Memorial Day weekend.
It is the first time in the park's history that it hasn't opened for the holiday weekend. The park is located at McCall.
I'm doing the recreation report for Thursday's Idaho Outdoors Magazine and finding that most of the high country is snowbound. Trails in the Sawtooths, White Clouds and mountains around McCall are inaccessible. That's pretty well the case for a normal year. You don't expect to get in there until late June or July 4.
We've gotten spoiled in the drought years with earlier access. That's not the case this season.

Bass fishing slow at Arrowrock Reservoir

Arrowrock Reservoir isn't exactly the hottest bass-fishing reservoir in southwest Idaho. Usually anglers head for Owyhee, Brownlee or C.J. Strike reservoirs for good bass fishing.
But, Arrowrock is close to home, and good for a half-day's fishing. That's if the bass are biting.
The reports we are getting from anglers is that the fishing is slow, although one angler hooked into an 18-incher in one of the coves.
The water's cold in Arrowrock with all the spring snowmelt. Bass were hanging out in the shallow waters of the coves last weekend, especially where little creeks are coming in.
Anglers will probably keep trying until things turn on.

High water can be deadly

KLEW television in Lewiston reported a story from the Clearwater River about what is likely the first high water fatality of the boating season.

Friday afternoon, the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office got a call about an unoccupied jet boat anchored in the Clearwater River. Deputies approached the boat and found no one inside. Sheriff's office personnel tried calling the home of the registered owner, Gary L. Thompson, 66, of Potlatch, and couldn't get an answer. They are now investigating it as a possible drowning, the station reported.

The Sheriff's Office believes Thompson may have fallen overboard while trying to lift his anchor, and the department is treating the case as an accidental drowning.

Blue camas is blooming along Weiser River Trail near Council

If you take a drive up U.S. 95 toward Council you'll see a lot of blue camas blooming. Blue camas is a highlight of the wildflower season.
In some areas, it looks like a sea of blue.
I just got back Sunday from a drive up there.
The drive between Weiser and Council is pretty colorful with other wildflowers. The slopes are covered with arrowleaf balsamroot and the yellow is awesome. A hike or bike ride along the Weiser River trail is perfect this time of the year, especially if you're a photographer.
There's a lot of contrast between the green fields and yellows and blues of the wildflowers and also the snowy mountaintops. Council, Indian, Hitt and Cuddy mountains all have snow on them.

TV program features Idaho's Rapid River

The Rapid River Roadless Area is the next featured destination for the “On the Rise” fly fishing program, which highlights the work of Trout Unlimited volunteers and staff all over the country.
The program airs Friday, May 16, at 6 p.m.on the Outdoor Channel (www.outdoorchannel.com).
The Rapid River country was visited last summer and features the roadless backcountry with TU field coordinator Scott Stouder to experience some of the best backcountry fishing Idaho has to offer. Rapid River is a hidden Idaho gem located in west-central Idaho and is a tributary to the Little Salmon River. In the summer, the Rapid River teems with pan-sized native rainbow trout and massive bull trout, which move into the river in July and August in preparation for the fall spawn.

Rattlesnakes waking up

I got my first report of a rattlesnake sighting in the Boise Foothills today.
A reader called to say that she and her husband spotted one on the Hulls Gulch Trail.
It was coiled right in the trail.
Luckily, they spotted it before they got too close.
The snake stretched out to about 3 feet after the couple walked around it.
They said the snake appeared to be still sluggish because of the colder weather. They saw it at about 2 p.m.
The weather's going to get warmer and you can bet rattlers are going to get more active.
Be alert and leave them alone.
Good hiking.

Conservation group proposes wolf-watching areas

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is taking comments on proposed wolf-hunting rules until Friday.
There's a different twist developing. Some Idahoans want wolf-viewing areas.
It makes sense. You're not going to see wolves with bullets flying in all directions.
As Fish and Game proposes wolf hunting areas and quotas, it should also designate wolf-viewing areas where wolves will not be hunted, said the Idaho Conservation League.
The conservation organization says twice as many Idahoans watch wildlife as hunt, and the number is growing.
"We need opportunities for everyday Idahoans who want to watch wolves in the wild and prefer 'catch and release' shooting with a camera instead of a rifle, the organization said in a press release.

Boise River is a hidden treasure

Most of us float the Boise River through the city of Boise. It's the most familiar stretch.
But there's another 40 or 50 miles of river from Boise to Parma. It winds through small towns, farmlands and thick riparian zones (brushy areas).
I've hunted ducks on the Lower Boise near Middleton, Notus and Parma, and where it dumps into the Snake River. What an incredible resource.
There are a lot of hidden places along the lower river for bird watching, fishing and canoeing.
Sadly, the Lower Boise River is polluted. But there is a considerable effort being made to clean it up.
Local experts Sherill Doran of the Lower Boise Watershed Council and Scott Koberg, district manager for the Ada Soil & Water Conservation District, will talk about the work to clean up the Boise River at a free community program at 6 p.m., May 20, at the Garden City Hall, 6015 Glenwood St.

Lots of snow in the high country

It's shaping up to be a normal spring, the kind we can't remember because of all these years of drought.
The thaw is taking its time in the high country. The U.S. Forest Service reported today that the roads to Redfish Lake and Stanley Lake, two popular Memorial Day weekend destinations, are still snowbound.
What happens with the weather in the next week or so will determine if campgrounds in the area will be accessible. I remember years when some campgrounds around Stanley still had snowdrifts on Memorial Day weekend.
There is still enough snow to ski on along the Harriman Trail past Baker Creek, north of Sun Valley, the Forest Service said.

The insanity of yard work

Saturday I topped off my truck ($50) and headed over to the Owyhee River to help teach a fly fishing class. As usual, fishing for brown trout in a green river that flows through redrock country was a fun trip. The Owyhee just looks, feels and fishes differently than any other river.

I mention that only for comparison purposes. On Sunday I spent most of the day working in our front yard, most of which I also spent cursing the fact I was working in the yard instead of fishing, or doing anything else fun. My frustration peaked when I went to the local landscaping store and bought a load of bark for $56.

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