Top Fishing Spots at CJ Striker Reservoir, Idaho

Impounding the Snake and Bruneau rivers in southwestern Idaho, CJ Strike Reservoir is a premier fishery in the Gem State. This massive lake spans over 20,000 acres and harbors trophy populations of bass, crappie, trout, catfish, and more.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll break down the hotspots for targeting CJ Strike’s most popular gamefish. Learn where to catch chunky largemouth bass, hard-fighting trout, slab crappie, and more on this sprawling reservoir.

From steep canyon walls to shallow coves, CJ Strike provides diverse fisheries. Keep reading to start planning your next Idaho fishing getaway to this highly-productive lake!

CJ Strike Reservoir Overview

  • 20,000+ acre reservoir on the Snake River southwest of Boise
  • Impounded by CJ Strike Dam completed in 1952
  • Primary fish species: bass, crappie, rainbow trout, catfish, bluegill
  • Managed by Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game for trophy fisheries
  • Shoreline surrounded by high desert and canyon terrain

In addition to great fishing, CJ Strike offers other recreational opportunities like camping, boating, bird watching, and water sports. Next, let’s break down the fishing opportunities by species:

Primary Target Species in CJ Strike Reservoir

CJ Strike Reservoir harbors an excellent variety of gamefish for anglers to target:

Largemouth Bass

  • Abundant from 2-7 lbs, trophies over 10 lbs caught annually
  • Ambush prey around docks, weedlines, and submerged structure
  • Active biters willing to hit a variety of lures and baits

Rainbow Trout

  • Stocked annually and holdover trout reach huge sizes
  • Drift open water or target creek channels and the dam area
  • Effective on bait under floats, spoons, spinners, and flies


  • Large populations of black and white crappie up to 15”
  • Relate to submerged structure like brush piles and standing timber
  • Readily bite small jigs, minnows, and micro plastics


  • Plentiful numbers provide consistent action for all anglers
  • Find them shallow early in the year then deeper near structure in summer
  • Willingly take worms, crickets, small flies, beetle spins, and jigs

Channel Catfish

  • Plentiful catfish in the 2-5 lb range, with some over 15 lbs
  • Drift or still-fish cut bait, prepared dough baits, shrimp, and liver
  • Concentrate efforts along creek channels, dam area, and flats

Yellow Perch

  • Introduced and growing population of perch up to 12”
  • Schools along humps, creek channels, and standing timber
  • Effective on small jigs and minnow imitations

Best Fishing Techniques on CJ Strike

CJ Strike’s diverse fisheries allow for varied fishing techniques:

  • Casting bass lures like crankbaits, soft plastics, topwater lures
  • Trolling with flashers, wedding rings, and dodgers to target suspended trout
  • Still fishing or drift fishing with bait below floats for trout, bass, and panfish
  • Vertically jigging spoons, jigs, or bait for trout, bass, and panfish holding over structure
  • Casting or trapping with prepared baits, liver, or cut bait for catfish
  • Fly fishing with sinking lines or indicators and small flies and lures for trout
  • Using bobbers or slip floats with bait during crappie spawn in shallow coves

Now let’s take a closer look at the premier fishing spots on CJ Strike Reservoir by species:

Top Largemouth Bass Fishing Spots

CJ Strike holds an impressive population of largemouth bass for anglers to target. Here are some of the best areas:

Jacks Creek – Elbow Area

This major spawning area attracts pre-spawn bass in early spring. Target staging fish hanging nearby off main lake points and channel edges with jerkbaits, swim jigs and crankbaits.

Rock Cliff Walls

Sheer rhyolite cliff walls line the reservoir, creating vertical habitat attractive to largemouth. Target bass cruise highways along these walls with diving crankbaits, bladed jigs, and deep diving jerkbaits.

Submerged Roadbeds

Old roads and right-of-ways flooded when CJ Strike was created make perfect ambush areas for bass. Use your electronics to locate these structures and fish them thoroughly with Texas rigs, jigs, and deep diving crankbaits.

Elbow Boat Ramp Cove

The shallow, protected cove by the Elbow boat ramp provides excellent early season action for hungry post-spawn bass on lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwater lures.

Jacks Creek Canyon

The lower section of Jacks Creek near the mouth has steep canyon walls, boulders, and creek channel edges that hold nice largemouth feeding on trout and crawdads. probe with finesse worms, tubes, and shallow-running crankbaits.

Prime Trout Fishing Zones

Here are some go-to spots to intercept trout at CJ Strike:

Dam Area

The dam area provides highly oxygenated water attractive to trout. Troll or cast diving lures like spoons, spinners, and crankbaits in this zone during spring, fall, and winter months.

Creek Channels & Humps

Use your electronics to locate creek channels, saddles, humps, and drop-offs adjacent to old river channels in the main body which hold structure-oriented trout. Still fish or troll bait and lures over them.

Clay Banks

Trout will hold along the deep clay and rocky banks on the reservoir’s west side. Work blade baits, swimbaits, and vibrating jigs parallel to these sheer banks.

Submerged Trees & Brush Piles

Anglers periodically sink evergreen trees in CJ Strike which attract trout. Also find trout stacks relating to rocky points, ledges, and brush piles along the old Snake River channel.

Inflows from Bruneau River

The incoming flows from the Bruneau River bring a food-rich influx that draws hungry trout. This mixing zone is prime for drifting bait.

Top Crappie Fishing Areas

Crappie concentrate in the following areas of CJ Strike:

Submerged Timber

Flooded trees provide protection and ambush cover sought by crappie. Drift or still fish small jigs and minnows around visible and submerged trees.

Docks and Marinas

Crappie love manmade structure. Target marina docks and private docks by casting or shooting small jigs underneath them.

Jacks Creek

The major spawning creek attracts pre-spawn crappie in early spring. Use bobbers and minnows or cast ultra-light jigs into the creek.

Clay Banks & Rocky Cliffs

Sheer clay and rock walls provide shade and structure for post-spawn crappie in late spring and summer. Vertically jig or use bobbers along sheer walls.

Cormana Bay Yellowperch Rubble

Submerged rocky habitat in Cormana Bay attracts perch and crappie. Drift small jigs tipped with bait or troll small cranks or spoons to cover water over the rubble.

Productive Catfish Areas

Channel cats roam many areas of CJ Strike, but concentrate efforts in these spots:

  • Jacks Creek – Drift or slow troll cut bait runs up the creek channel and target deeper pools.
  • Dam Face – Cast prepared baits or shrimp towards the bottom along the dam.
  • Mud Flats – Muddy shorelines and flats warm quickly, drawing catfish. Target mud points or gravel pit areas.
  • Bruneau Arm – Relatively shallow with softer bottom ideal for cats.
  • Elbow Cove & Boat Ramp – Mucky area with creek channel access frequented by catfish.

Premier Bluegill Locations

For fast fishing and fun action on scrappy bluegill and panfish, try the following areas:

Jacks Creek and Backwaters

Target bluegill shallow in coves, bayous, and backwaters off Jacks Creek with small jigs, crickets, and worms.

Shoreline Laydowns

Shoreline laydowns and submerged trees provide shade and cover sought by bluegill in summer. Cast beetle spins, small spoons, or jigs.

Clay Banks

Shallow clay and gravel shorelines warm quickly, drawing spawning bluegill in spring.


Bluegill love dock structure. Add a split shot and fish small jigs or bait off docks and corners.

Best Fishing Access Points on CJ Strike

CJ Strike offers several boat ramps and camping areas to access fishing grounds:

Jacks Creek Campground

Public campground with launching ramp into Jacks Creek area. Connected to deep water via creek channel.

CJ Strike Dam

Gated gravel launch area below the dam providing deep water access. Prime for trout and bass. Requires long run to lower reservoir.

Elbow Boat Ramp Cove

Centrally located paved ramp with easy access to the expansive elbow area of the reservoir. Popular summer crappie area. Deep water access.

Cormana Bay Boat Ramp

Paved launch site on southwest side of reservoir into Cormana Bay.


Remote gravel ramp on northwest shoreline. Takes effort to reach but provides excellent access to productive clay shorelines and flats. 4×4 vehicle recommended.

There are additional gravel launches and camping areas dotting the massive CJ Strike Reservoir – review maps to find additional access as needed.

When to Fish CJ Strike Reservoir

As a large reservoir containing both warmwater and coldwater fish, CJ Strike fishes well in all seasons:


  • Spawning crappie in shallow coves
  • Largemouth bass in shallows and feeding on prespawn bluegill
  • Stocked trout and holdovers active


  • Bass chasing baitfish early and late off points
  • Trout deep or in coldwater areas
  • Bluegill near structure and docks


  • Bass feeding heavily on shad
  • Trolling for suspended trout over humps
  • Perch and crappie in shallows


  • Trout fishing productive in dam area
  • Deep smallmouth near shelves and creek channels
  • Catfish on flats and creek confluences

Spring, summer, and fall tend to fish best, but don’t overlook ice fishing for trout, bass, crappie and perch in the winter!

Top CJ Strike Fishing Guides

Consider hiring a guide to show you the lake and patterns:

Hewitt Guide Service

  • Target Species: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, trout
  • Seasons: March through November
  • What They Offer: Full service guide trips customizing techniques for conditions and customer goals from their 20-foot Ranger bay boat.

Big Bend Guide Service

  • Target Species: Largemouth bass, crappie, trout
  • Seasons: April through September
  • What They Offer: Personalized trips for bass, panfish, and trout from a 21-foot Tritoon fishing boat.

High Desert Guide Service

  • Target Species: Trout, bass, panfish
  • Seasons: Year-round
  • What They Offer: Float and power boat trips on CJ Strike Reservoir and Owyhee River targeting trout, bass, crappie and more.

These guides provide all necessary equipment, tackle, and local expertise to find and catch fish on this expansive reservoir.

Tips for Fishing CJ Strike Reservoir

When fishing CJ Strike keep these tips in mind:

  • Vary retrieves and baits to trigger bites – reaction bites can be subtle so stay alert
  • Use your electronics to find structure, schools of baitfish, and suspended predator fish
  • Pack plenty of water – it’s hot and dry here in the high desert!
  • Watch weather for wind and storms which affect this expansive, high elevation lake
  • Braid or lead core line helps get lures and baits down to trout suspended deep
  • Balance fishing pressure by trying more remote areas
  • Practice catch and release – help maintain CJ Strike’s fishing quality

CJ Strike Reservoir Camping

These campgrounds provide accommodation right on the reservoir:

Jacks Creek Campground

  • 18 sites for tents & RVs, plus group sites
  • Boat ramp, picnic areas, and hiking access
  • Electric hookups

Devils Corral Campground

  • 25 sites for tents, trailers, and RVs
  • Showers, boat launch, swim area
  • First come, first served

Cottonwood Campground

  • Secluded primitive campsites for tents
  • Vault toilets, no water
  • Sandy beach swimming area

Big Casino Campground

  • 6 primitive campsites
  • Vault toilet, no water
  • Sandy beach area

Reserve America and allow reservations for Jacks Creek, Devils Corral, and other area campgrounds.

Plan Your CJ Strike Fishing Getaway

With excellent populations of bass, trout, crappie, and more, CJ Strike Reservoir is a premier fishery in the Western United States.

Use this guide to help plan your next CJ Strike fishing adventure. Check seasonal patterns and structure locations using maps and resources from Idaho Fish and Game.

Armed with knowledge of where to fish and what techniques to use, you’ll be set up for outstanding success fishing Idaho’s CJ Strike Reservoir. Let us know how your trip goes!

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