Press Release

July 2002

Catch-And-Release Requires A Few Precautions

LEWISTON - Most anglers would agree that catch-and-release fishing is an important conservation practice, but returning fish to the water alive is not always as simple as it sounds.

With the "No Harvest" steelhead season beginning August 1 on the Clearwater River, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages steelhead anglers that they can greatly increase the chances of caught fish remaining healthy and available for catching again by following these simple precautions:

  • If possible, don't play the fish to total exhaustion while attempting to land it.
  • Hold the fish in the water as much as possible when handling it, removing the hook and preparing it for release.
  • When removing the hook, don't squeeze the fish or place your fingers in its gills.
  • If the fish has swallowed the hook, don't pull it out. Instead, cut the line as close to the hook as possible, leaving the hook inside the fish.
  • When releasing the fish in the water, hold it gently until it becomes acclimated. Move it slowly back and forth to help it regain and maintain its equilibrium.

Spaces Still Open in Hunter Education Classes

Formal registration for summer and fall rifle hunter education classes was during the week of July 22 - 26, but many classes throughout the Magic Valley Region did not fill. There is still time to get registered and enrolled in one of these classes before the hunting seasons arrive.

Classes are still available in the following cities: Burley, Wendell, Twin Falls, Jerome, Kimberly, Buhl, Gooding, Hailey, Rupert and Shoshone. Four of these classes will begin the week of August 5; the remainder will run into the end of September.

Contact the Magic Valley Fish & Game office in Jerome at 324-4359 as soon as possible to find out about classes still available in your area. Classes will now be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Rainbow Trout Stocking Report

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 21,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during August.

Boise River (Boise) 4,000
Boise River (Eagle to Middleton) 4,000
Boise River (Middle Fork) 1,000
Boise River (North Fork) 2,000
Bull Trout Lake 2,000
Crooked River 500
Lowman Ponds 1,000
Martin Lake 1,000
Payette River (Middle Fork) 1,500
Silver Creek 1,600
Wilson Spring 600
Wilson Spring Ponds 2,000

The number of trout actually released may be altered by weather, water conditions, equipment problems or schedule changes. If delays occur, trout will be stocked when conditions become favorable.

Another Good Steelhead Season Likely

Barring poor river conditions, Idaho steelhead anglers should have another good season coming after September 1.

According to early predictions, about 170,700 steelhead could be on their way to Lower Granite Dam, the last barrier to entering Idaho fishing waters. If that figure holds up, it will be slightly more than twice the 10-year average, subtracting last year's epic run. About 85,000 steelhead at Lower Granite Dam is the average without considering the 260,000 that showed up last year.

Last year's steelhead run overwhelmed Idaho hatcheries and provided some of the best steelheading anglers could remember. The predicted run this year would be about 66 percent of last year's. Some 400,000 steelhead are predicted to enter the Columbia River at Bonneville Dam this fall.

Predictions are based on average conditions, however. If drought and high water temperature continue in Idaho, the bloom could fade from the rosy prediction.

When water is low and too warm, steelhead will often stay in the Columbia River, not entering the Snake until waters cool. A high percentage of fish are lost before coming to Idaho when that happens.

Resident Tags Available

Resident hunters may buy their tags for this fall's big game hunts now but tags for the five elk zones with caps become available in the wee hours of August 1.

Five elk hunting zones have now been capped so that only a limited number of tags are available in them. Those zones are the Middle Fork, Selway, Lolo, Elk City and Dworshak. Elk City and Dworshak zones are capped for the first time this year.

Tags for those five zones go on sale at 5 a.m. Mountain Time, 4 a.m. Pacific. Those times are as early as the Point of Sale Machine (POSM) computer system becomes active. Online sales also begin at the same times.

By starting before regular business hours, POSM system operators hope to avoid overloading and crashing the system as has occurred in some previous years when too many simultaneous transactions were attempted.

Caps on tag sales have been imposed on zones where elk herds are not meeting management guidelines that require no fewer than 10 mature bulls per 100 cows at the end of hunting seasons. These limits could be removed for future hunting seasons when herds return to better balance.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I understand that my 10-year-old can take hunter education next year and hunt the fall of 2003, is that true?

A. True. Under a law approved in the last Idaho legislature, the age for becoming a licensed hunter has been lowered from 12 to 10. However, hunters 10 and 11 years old will qualify for small game hunting only, not big game hunts, and must be closely supervised by an adult.

Salmon Season Likely for Next Summer

Salmon anglers have caught about half as many hatchery chinook this year as they did in last year's seasons but still enough to raise enthusiasm for another year of fishing in Idaho.

Early and highly tentative predictions for next year call for about 45,000 adult spring and summer chinook to clear Lower Granite Dam. Similar to previous years, about 75 percent of the fish are expected to be hatchery produced. The majority of these fish are expected to enter Idaho. The spring chinook count at the dam this year was about 75,000 with 20,500 summer chinook seen there as of July 15.

Though the run will be smaller than this year's and far below the historic run of 2001, the hatchery portion of the run should still provide fishing opportunity.

Last year, salmon anglers in Idaho took about 43,000 fish. The final harvest this year is expected to be about 19,200.

Next year's seasons may not include as many fishing waters as this year's and season limits will likely be smaller, but Idaho anglers will probably be able to fish for salmon again, a popular activity enjoyed only a few times in the last 25 years.

Free Big Game Hunting Workshop Set For Saturday, August 10

IDAHO FALLS - The fall big game hunting seasons are just around the corner and what could be better than a whole day of activities designed to not only introduce young people to the thrills of hunting, but to help old-timers hone their skills. IDFG will be hosting this free event on Saturday, August 10 at Beaver Dick Park. Activities run from 9:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. The park is located six miles west of Rexburg on Highway 33.

This is the second time that IDFG has hosted such an event. The first time it staged at Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area near Ririe, Idaho. The event itself was a success, but it was later decided that even more people might attend in the future if it was held closer to a town. The selection of Beaver Dick Park was idea because of it close proximity to Rexburg and the fact that it is an easy drive up Highway 20 or Interstate 15 from Idaho Falls. Another big plus for the site is that it is located next to IDFG's Cartier Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Some sessions will involve the actual shooting of firearms, an activity that is allowed on the WMA.

The variety of educational sessions being offered is truly impressive! Sessions will be running all day and will involve stations dealing with all aspects of such major methods of hunting as rifles, shotguns, archery, and muzzleloading. While IDFG is heading the charge, numerous other local sportsmen's groups and volunteers are also helping out. In addition, there will be all kinds of other skill-related workshops taking place, everything from knife sharpening to how to cape out a trophy deer.

Attention: Resident Elk Hunters Capped B-Tags On Sale August 1 At 4 A.M.

LEWISTON - Idaho resident elk hunters planning to purchase tags for north central Idaho may need to wake up early to secure a coveted tag for this fall.

A limited number of tags for the Dworshak, Lolo, Selway, Elk City and Middle Fork Zones will go on sale beginning August 1 at 4:00 a.m. Pacific time at Fish and Game regional offices, some license vendors and online through the Department's website. Hunters are reminded that this is the first year that resident tags in the Dworshak and Elk City Zones have been capped.

The sale time is when the electronic sales system (POSM) comes on each day. The early timing should also spread out the load so the system doesn't crash, as it has in the past.

Interested tag purchasers are encouraged to check license vendors in their area to determine if they will be open at this early hour.

Waterfowl Season Open House Meeting Set For August 5

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has scheduled an open house meeting for the public to review and provide written comments concerning the 2002-2003 waterfowl season proposals. Set for Monday, August 5, the open house will be held at the Clearwater Region office, 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Department biologists will be available during those hours to discuss the proposed regulations.

Local duck populations have faired well, but drought, cool spring weather and poor habitat conditions are to blame for the apparent decline in duck production in Southern Alberta, where the majority of Idaho's migrants come from. Hunters should expect a reduction in harvest, probably through shorter season as well as reduced bag limits.

Other proposals for public review include:

  • May consider opening waterfowl seasons one week earlier and close one week later compared to last year.
  • Allowed duck season length will probably be shorter than in 2001, while the goose season will probably be unchanged.
  • Different split seasons and zones will be reviewed.
  • Restrictions on canvasback and pintail harvest probable.

Those unable to attend can call (208) 799-5010, or send written comments to the above address, or fax 208-799-5012 by 5 p.m. the same day. All comments will go to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration at their August meeting.

August Bowhunter Education Course Offered In Orofino

OROFINO - With bowhunting season only a month away, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages prospective bowhunters to register for the mandatory course soon so they can participate this fall.

The last remaining bowhunter education course for the Orofino area is scheduled for August 10 and 11, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Dworshak State Park, 4310 Freeman Creek Road near Orofino. The course is a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on experiences that last approximately 12-16 hours. For more information and to register for this class, contact Jerri Lake at 208-476-7874.

This course will be the last course offered in the Clearwater Region before big game archery season begins August 30

Parking and overnight camping is available for a small fee. Students must be at least 11-years old to register. Fees for the student's workbook and course materials are $8.00. Parents or legal guardians are encouraged to accompany the students and participate in the entire program.

IDFG provides several hundred bow hunter education courses statewide each year. However, more than 60 percent of these courses are taught between January and April. All courses are taught by volunteer instructors, that often times, teach only spring and summer classes.

August Fish & Game Breakfast Meeting Cancelled

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds hunters and anglers that the August 6 breakfast meeting has been cancelled. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3, beginning at 6:30 a.m. at the Helm restaurant in Lewiston.

"We'll buy the coffee, and we hope local hunters and anglers bring their questions and comments," said Cal Groen, Clearwater Region Supervisor.

Wildlife depredations, enforcement cases and predictions for the early goose, steelhead and upland bird seasons are some of the topics on the breakfast forum agenda. Other fish and wildlife-related topics of interest will be discussed as well. Sportsmen's club representatives are also invited to give reports of their club's activities.

The breakfast meetings are open to anyone with fish and wildlife related questions, and are designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the area. The breakfasts run from 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m., and are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant.