CAREY — So you would like to escape the heat, go fishing where there isn’t a blue-green algae toxicity warning or maybe just explore a new aquatic playground. How about Little Wood Reservoir, just 11 miles outside of the town of Carey, Idaho?
While you won’t totally escape the late summer heat, at 5,236 feet of elevation, it will at least be slightly cooler. At 600 surface acres, it is large enough for water skiers and other watercraft and but small enough to fish completely. Created and administered by the Bureau of Reclamation, the amenities include a boat ramp, dock and a 24-space, no hook-up campground.
“Little Wood Reservoir is another one of those smaller bodies of water that consistently produces fish,” said Magic Valley Regional Fisheries Manager Doug Megarle. “Even in dry years, it will fill in the spring and produce a fishery, though it may be down to the river channel by fall, depending on the previous year’s water carryover.”
IDFG stocks the reservoir each spring with almost 7,000 catchable rainbows, usually 8 to 10 inches long. Cutthroat and brook trout are also found in Little Wood reservoir, though in far fewer numbers. Both are found in the upper stretches of the Little Wood River and its various small tributaries, and will occasionally migrate down to the reservoir. Cutthroat are native to Idaho, while Brook trout are not.
“Brook trout are from legacy stockings that took place at the turn of the last century when fish culture was a fairly new undertaking and new species were being introduced throughout the western U.S., including many drainages in Idaho,” Megarle said. “I get reports of lunker brookies that anglers sometimes catch in Little Wood.”
Another introduced species, brown trout, are found in the Little Wood River below the dam but not in the reservoir itself, as they were never stocked in the Little Wood drainage above the reservoir.
Visitors may fish Little Wood Reservoir just as they would fish any other trout lake. Bank anglers do well from the dam and the west side of the reservoir bordering the dam, using the worm/marshmallow combo. Trollers do well trolling along the shoreline, with depth dependant on the season. Hoping to pick up one of those lunker brook trout, this writer trolled a sinking Rapala plug behind a single silver dodger, three colors down using leaded line. While I failed to hook a brook trout, I had a six fish limit of rainbows in about 30 minutes. My fishing partner (my wife) used a wedding ring spinner, sweetened with a salmon egg, behind a set of mini flashers and procured her limit in no more than 40 minutes. It seemed that whatever we used, the fish attacked.
Fly anglers do well in float tubes by using the standard patterns and adjusting to the season: beaded pheasant tail fly and a sinking tip line in the spring, then switching to woolly worm (scud) patterns as the water warms. The secret weapon for Little Wood Reservoir during the dog days of summer is reported to be a tied-down orange hair caddis or a muddler minnow pattern used with a sinking fly line, fished at almost dusk. (Even though brown trout are not supposed to be in the reservoir, it sounds as if you pretend you are fishing for them in August.)
Little Wood Reservoir is also a very popular ice fishery since, at nearly a mile high, it forms safe ice fairly early in the season and will often hold leftover stocker rainbows that continue growing, water flows permitting. While snowmobiles make the trip a breeze during a normal winter, Blaine County highway district will occasionally plow the road providing access. To get there, head north from the town of Carey and turn left at the sign that says Little Wood Reservoir, 11 miles.