The authors’ son Jarod Waite with a rainbow trout.

Need a new excuse to go fishing? How about this: it’s part of your fitness plan to get more physical activity and omega-3’s. McCall’s fresh water fish are not only a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but the good kind of fat as well.

Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from fish and fish oils, consisting of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), plus eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Most of the interest in omega-3’s has been due to their effects on lowering triglycerides and countering inflammation. But there are other equally important benefits of omega-3’s for the brain, including memory, intelligence and even eyesight.

The American Heart Association recommends eating as many as two to three servings of freshwater fish per week. The following table compares the omega-3 fatty acid content of Idaho fish in a 3.5-ounce portion, which is the size of a deck of cards. You can see that salmon, trout and whitefish are the best sources. The following fish can be found in lakes around the McCall area:

Two, six-ounce servings of fish per week will yield a positive effect for the average person. Oily fish such as wild salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring and trout are the best catches with more DHA to offer. When cooking, think broiling or grilling because the extra fat from deep frying is counterproductive when there’s lean protein on the menu.

SeAnne Safaii-Waite and Blink at Louie Lake.

Some new research from Norway (which produces over 40% of the world’s omega-3 oils) suggests that omega-3s may be better absorbed from food than supplements.  One study compared 71 volunteers’ absorption of omega-3s from salmon, smoked salmon, cod (14 ounces of fish per week) versus cod liver oil (3 teaspoons per day). Cooked salmon provided 1.2 grams of omega-3s daily, while cod liver oil provided more than twice as much: 3 grams of omega-3s per day. Even though the salmon group received less than half the amount of omega-3s as the cod liver oil group, blood levels of omega-3s increased quite a bit more in those eating salmon than those taking cod liver oil.

The American Dietetic Association recommends 500 mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids, or two servings of fatty fish per week, as part of a balanced diet. So, the bottom line is, eat fresh fish if possible, instead of supplements and give into your “I’d rather be fishing” desires.

We are blessed with amazing resources in McCall and surrounding areas. Many of the fish with high omega-3 content are easily found in our many lakes and streams. Fishing in conjunction with a great hike is a super combo for a healthy day and overall lifestyle. A few of our favorite fish-hikes are:

Coffee Cup Lake.

Hard Butte / Twin Lakes – head up the Brundage access road and continue on Goose Lake Road past the turn to the ski area. Proceed approximately 18 miles to the Clayburn trail head – road ends at the trailhead. There is a restroom and large parking area. A nice 3.5 mile hike through amazing wild flower fields and you will meet Upper and Lower Twin Lakes. Hungry brook trout will greet you there!

Grass Mountain & Coffee Cup Lakes – head up the Brundage access road and continue on Goose Lake Road past the turn to the ski area. Proceed approximately 11 miles and watch for the trailhead on the left and parking right across the road. Take the trail 1.9 miles up to the Grass Mountain lake and be ready for some amazing brook trout. For the hardier hiker, you can proceed to Coffee Cup lake, another 1.5 miles beyond the meadows and seek the hard fighting cutthroat trout.

Payette River – find a spot along the river just south of the lake exit and try your luck for some really nice rainbow trout. Please do be respectful of private property and asking permission is always a good thing.

Beyond the noted fisheries, there are countless other wonderful hikes you may wish to try. Some other favorites are Boulder Lake, Louie Lake, Lava Butte Lakes, South Fork of the Salmon on the road to Yellow Pine, and Payette Lake and Cascade Lake are always good options. Be aware of regulations and secure an Idaho fishing license as the fees support our wonderful out-of-doors which makes Idaho amazing.


Authors John Waite and SeAnne Safaii-Waite, PhD, RDN, LD, make their home in McCall and can often be found roaming the hills and trails with their Goldendoodle Blink! All photos – including cover photo of Blink leading the way to Grass Mountain Lake – are provided courtesy of the authors.


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