Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love prepping, roasting and devouring the turkey. I look forward to the Turkey Bowl football games on a crisp fall morning. I crave my mom’s pumpkin pie. And I enjoy cheering on my Detroit Lions as they take the field for their traditional Thanksgiving showdown.
Here in Idaho, we enjoy a cornucopia of fishing goodness. So, in honor of my favorite holiday, here is a list of fish I’m thankful for.
Largemouth Bass: I’ll never grow tired of chasing largemouths. Their ferocious appetites, stealthy ambush tactics and head-shaking acrobatics are second-to-none. Some days, they’ll slam anything that moves. Others, they’ll stare you down with stubborn, lock-jawed defiance. The challenge of unlocking their secrets is always a thrill.
Cutthroat Trout: Every time I catch a cutthroat, I’m amazed by their vibrant beauty. Black spots against a backdrop of crimson red, sunset gold and olive green, accentuated by those dramatic orange throat slashes—it really is a thing of beauty. They’re great fun to catch, too, and finding them usually means finding yourself amongst the beauty of Idaho’s remote alpine streams and lakes.
Bluegill: The little fish that could. Bluegill remind me of that kid on your high school football team who everyone said was too small—until he started wrecking people in practice. Pound for pound, bluegill fight as hard as anything that swims. Their aggressive nature and tendency to hang out in large schools make them great fun to catch. A stringer of nice ones makes for a feast-worthy meal, too!
Chinook Salmon: It’s pretty darn cool that these huge, majestic fish return to Idaho streams—some of which are barely as wide as your office—to offer one-of-a-kind angling opportunities. Freshwater fishing doesn’t get more intense than sight-casting to 20-pound muscle torpedoes and hanging on for dear life once they hit!
Smallmouth Bass: Don’t repeat this too loudly, but the Snake River might be one of the best smallmouth fisheries in America. I’m consistently impressed by the size, numbers and health of the smallies I catch here in southern Idaho. Their hard-charging attitudes and beautiful tiger-striped patterns have filled many an afternoon with smiling faces and chewed-up thumbs.
Perch: I’m always excited to see striped yellow sides and bright-orange fins, because catching one perch usually means catching a bunch. Perch are great fun to catch through the ice, and we have a world-class fishery (Lake Cascade) nearby, and another good one (Magic Reservoir) right here in the Magic Valley.
Kokanee Salmon: Kokanee are a double-whammy of awesomeness. During spring and summer, anglers can troll for the tasty silver salmon in the depths of large reservoirs. And the fall spawning run, when thousands of kokanee turn fire engine-red and charge up small streams, is one of the coolest natural phenomena I’ve ever seen.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. And tight lines!