Press Release

March 2005

Anglers Disgusted Over Intentional Steelhead Snagging

KOOSKIA - Steelhead anglers are disgusted and angered over an illegal and unethical fishing method occurring in the South Fork Clearwater River.

"Snagging is a big problem right now," said Idaho Department of Fish and Game Conservation Officer Larry Willmott. "It's not ethical, and true sportsmen know it."

Steelhead and salmon become vulnerable to snagging when moving through certain sections of the shallow river or when congregating to spawn.

IDFG receives reports almost daily from concerned anglers complaining over this illegal activity. "The vast majority of anglers are really good folks that obey the laws and follow a good code of ethics," Willmott said. "Unfortunately, there are a few that intentionally break the law."

It is unlawful to take or attempt to take a game fish by snagging, or to keep a game fish that has been snagged. Snagging means the taking or attempt to take a fish by use of a hook or lure in any manner or method other than enticing or attracting a fish to strike with, and become hooked, in its mouth or jaw. Any game fish that is hooked other than the mouth or jaw must be released unharmed.

Anyone who encounters any illegal fishing and hunting activity are encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999, the Clearwater Region Fish & Game Office at 208-799-5010 or your local conservation officer. Rewards are offered for any information leading to a citation.

"Collect as much information as possible, especially license plate numbers and descriptions of the violators, and report it as soon as you can," Willmott said. "The more information we have, the easier it is to apprehend and bring these violators to justice."

Upcoming Salmon Season to Highlight April Sportsmen's Breakfast

LEWISTON - A presentation on Idaho's upcoming salmon season will highlight the Idaho Department of Fish and Game breakfast meeting scheduled for April 5 at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston.

Fish and Game personnel will provide an overview of prior salmon seasons, especially the 2004 season. A review of the many factors related to this year's projected returns and fishery constraints that IDFG operates within will also be explained. The meeting will also include a report on the upcoming wild turkey season and significant enforcement activities.

Local outdoor groups are also invited to give reports of their current activities.

The breakfasts are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant. The meetings are open to anyone and are designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The breakfasts run from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. with coffee provided by Fish and Game.

Turkey Hunting Clinic Scheduled Saturday, April 2

GRANGEVILLE - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the National Wild Turkey Federation will sponsor a wild turkey hunting clinic emphasizing techniques and safety at the Camas Prairie Bowmen's Range south of Grangeville on Saturday, April 2 beginning at 10 a.m.

The Camas Prairie Bowmen's Range is located on the Grangeville-Salmon Rd, South of Grangeville. The seminar will run until 12:00 and will be held outdoors. Participants are encouraged to dress accordingly. For more information, contact George Fischer at 208-983-3034.

The free seminar is designed for both youth and adult hunters and will emphasize hunting strategies, safety, wild turkey biology and identification. Participants are encouraged to bring personal turkey calls and other equipment they wish to discuss in the class. Shooting of firearms is prohibited at the range.

Turkey hunting is relatively new to Idaho. Unfortunately, statistics show turkey hunting has one of the highest hunting accident rates, primarily due to camouflaged hunters making the sounds of a turkey from hidden locations.

A special youth-only turkey hunt for youth hunters 10 to 15 years of age is scheduled for April 9-10 in all game management units open to general turkey hunting. Youth hunters must have in possession a 2005 turkey tag, a valid hunting license and must be accompanied by a licensed adult.

Idaho's statewide general turkey season opens April 15. Only male turkeys may be harvested in the spring season. See the 2005 Wild Turkey Seasons & Rules booklet available at all license vendors and Fish and Game offices for more details.

Big Game Seasons Reflect Commitment to Mule Deer

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has made some changes to the big game regulations that are designed to help struggling mule deer herds in southeast Idaho.

The changes are part of a large-scale commitment on the part of Fish and Game to maintain healthy populations of mule deer and provide quality hunting experiences to mule deer hunters.

One major change is the expansion of the antlerless elk hunts. Elk populations are increasing and occupying important deer habitats in some part of eastern Idaho. Expanded elk opportunity is designed to reduce any potential negative effects of elk on deer habitats, particularly where there may be competition for critical winter ranges.

In the Tex Creek Zone (Units 66 and 69), hunters will have three extra weeks of hunting thanks to an October 22 opener. Fish and Game has also added 450 "extra" antlerless elk tags to minimize elk occupancy of important mule deer range in the Upper Snake and Southeast Regions.

Mountain Lion hunters will also have more opportunity under the new plan. Female quotas have been increased or removed in 21 hunting units in the Southeast and Magic Valley Regions. Lions target deer more than other large predators do.

Fish and Game has also made changes to deer seasons. The seasons have been standardized to open on October 10 statewide. Many hunters have complained that earlier seasons have occurred when conditions were too hot and dry. The standardized seasons are also intended to minimize the impact caused by hunters who move from one unit to another as new seasons open.

"The Mule Deer Initiative is not only about making more mule deer, it's also about providing higher-quality hunting experiences" said big game manager Brad Compton. "Later seasons should provide a better experience."

Adjusted seasons are just part of the Mule Deer Initiative. Big game managers are also focusing on habitat improvements designed to increase mule deer populations.

Salmon Season to Open in April

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved a spring chinook salmon season to begin in April.

This year's season will be similar to that of last year with a few exceptions. The Snake River, Clearwater River (including the North Fork and South Fork), Lower Salmon River and Little Salmon River will open on April 23. The Lochsa River will open on May 28. No season was authorized in the Middle Fork Clearwater River (from the South Fork to the confluence with the Lochsa and Selway Rivers) because of projected numbers of adult salmon returning to the Kooskia Nationals Fish Hatchery.

Most of these rivers are scheduled to close on July 31 or earlier if Fish and Game sees a biological need to close any or all fisheries. The two exceptions to the July 31 closure are the Lower Snake River, which is scheduled to close May 30, and the Lower Salmon River which is scheduled to close for spring chinook fishing on June 19.

Anglers will again be allowed to keep 20 chinook salmon statewide, however only 10 of those can be taken from the Lower Snake and Clearwater drainage combined. The daily, possession, and season limits are as follows:

- Lower Snake River and Clearwater drainage: Daily-1, Posession-3, Season-10

- Upper Snake, Lower Salmon, Little Salmon Rivers: Daily-2, Posession-6, Season-20

Fishery boundaries are similar to those of last year:

- Lower Snake River: From Southway Bridge upstream to the Heller Bar concrete boat ramp.

- Upper Snake River: From the Dug Bar boat ramp upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.

Upper Salmon River Chinook Season Possible

For the first time in nearly thirty years, anglers in Idaho may have the chance to fish for chinook salmon on the Upper Salmon River.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and federal isheries authrorities have reached an agreement that would allow anglers to harvest surplus hatchery summer and spring chinook returning to the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery and the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery. The general framework of the plan includes consideration of a 45-mile stretch of the Salmon River from the Lemhi River to the Pahsimeroi River, and a seven-mile stretch from Valley Creek to the Sawtooth Hatchery. The plan will only be implemented if and when numbers of returning hatchery and naturally produced chinook prove to be adequate. State and Federal collaboration is necessary because Chinook salmon returning to the upper Salmon River are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

"We are pleased that public fishing can be restored in these areas without compromising salmon recovery" said Rob Jones, Chief of Hatcheries and Inland Fisheries/Salmon Recovery Division for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Under the new plan, hatchery fish that are surplus to broodstock needs would be available for harvest. Anglers would be allowed to target adipose fin-clipped summer and spring chinook salmon returning to the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries. The Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries produce fish as compensation for fishing opportunity and salmon habitat lost because of hydroelectric development.

Checkoff for Wildlife

As you sweat and swear your way through this year's tax forms, it might lift spirits a little to check off the box for donating to Idaho's wildlife.

Taxpayers can check off the square on their Idaho tax forms to donate any amount of their refund to nongame animal programs administered by Fish and Game. Other Fish and Game programs aimed at game animals and fish are funded through the sale of licenses and tags to hunters and anglers. No general taxes go to either game or nongame programs.

Nongame programs include education, conservation and recreation. Examples of nongame wildlife projects include producing popular educational publications and doing research on nongame wildlife species. Better information about those species aids wildlife management efforts and could help keep some from becoming rare. Fish and Game efforts with these species can help protect wildlife species before they decline to the point of listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Besides the checkoff, the major source of funding for nongame programs is through the sale of the distinctive bluebird, cutthroat trout and elk license plates.

Catch and Keep on St. Charles Creek

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved new rules for fishing on St. Charles Creek in Bear Lake County to allow anglers to keep the fish they catch.

Fisheries biologists are hoping to enhance the population of native cutthroat trout by removing rainbow and cutthroat rainbow hybrids. The plan is to remove all resident trout from the stream over the next few years then reestablish native cutthroat. In the interim period, Fish and Game wants to give anglers a chance to take some of the fish home.

The new rule will allow anglers to take six trout (rainbow, cutthroat and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids). This will replace the catch-and-release rule that has been in force on St. Charles Creek and its tributaries. Anglers will also be allowed to use bait and will not be required to use barbless hooks.

The July 1 opener will remain in force for St. Charles Creek downstream of the Caribou National Forest boundary. This will protect native cutthroat that migrate upstream to spawn in the creek then return to Bear Lake. General season rules will apply on St. Charles Creek and its tributaries upstream from that boundary.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. It is starting to feel like spring and I want to go fishing. What's open?

A. If you had left Idaho 20 years ago and just returned, you would be amazed at the number of fishing waters open year round now. Basically, if it is a lake, pond, reservoir or large river, it is probably open to fishing right now. If it is a smaller stream with trout, it probably will not be open to fishing until Memorial Day weekend. But, please take a few minutes to look at the fishing rules book, especially the "Exceptions" sections in each region.

Upper Salmon River Chinook Season Possible

For the first time in nearly thirty years, anglers in Idaho may get the chance to fish for Chinook salmon on the Upper Salmon River.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and NOAA Fisheries have reached an agreement that would allow anglers to harvest surplus hatchery summer and spring Chinook returning to the Pahsimeroi Hatchery and the Sawtooth Hatchery. The general framework of the plan includes consideration of a 54 mile stretch of the Salmon River from the Lemhi to the Pahsimeroi, and a 7 mile stretch from Valley Creek to the Sawtooth Hatchery. The plan will only be implemented if and when numbers of returning hatchery and naturally produced chinook prove to be adequate. State and Federal collaboration is necessary because Chinook salmon returning to the upper Salmon River are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

"We are pleased that public fishing can be restored in these areas without compromising salmon recovery" said Rob Jones, NOAA Chief of Hatcheries and Inland Fisheries/Salmon Recovery Division.

Under the new plan, hatchery fish that are surplus to broodstock needs would be available for harvest. Anglers would be allowed to target adipose fin-clipped summer and spring Chinook salmon returning to the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries. The Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries produce fish as compensation for salmon habitat and survival lost because of hydroelectric development.

The Pahsimeroi Hatchery, on the Pahsimeroi River near Ellis is funded by Idaho Power Company. The Sawtooth Hatchery, on the headwaters of the Salmon River near Stanley is funded by the Lower Snake River Compensation Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, using Bonneville Power Administration funds. Both hatcheries are operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and were developed to provide fishing opportunities.

Salmon Season to Open in April

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved a spring chinook salmon season to begin in April.

This year's season will be similar to that of last year with a few exceptions. The Snake River, Clearwater River (including the North Fork and South Fork), Lower Salmon River and Little Salmon River will open on April 23. The Lochsa River will open on May 28.

Most of these rivers are scheduled to close on July 31 or earlier if Fish and Game sees a biological need to close any or all fisheries. The two exceptions to the July 31 closure are the Lower Snake River, which is scheduled to close May 30, and the Lower Salmon River which is scheduled to close for spring chinook fishing on June 19.

Anglers will again be allowed to keep 20 chinook salmon statewide, however only 10 of those can be taken from the Lower Snake and Clearwater drainage combined. The daily, possession, and season limits are as follows:

  • Lower Snake and Clearwater drainage: Daily-1, Posession-3, Season-10
  • Upper Snake, Lower Salmon, Little Salmon: Daily-2, Posession-6, Season-20

Fishery boundaries are similar to those of last year:

Project WILD Workshop Offered

A Project WILD workshop is scheduled for April 8 and 9 at Fish and Game's Southwest Region office at 3101 S. Powerline Road in Nampa. Because space is limited, K through 12 teachers are urged to register as soon as possible for this fun, informative workshop. Contact Fish and Game's Nampa office (465-8465) for more information.

Project WILD is an interdisciplinary fish and wildlife curriculum spanning a number of class subjects. WILD activities help students develop awareness, knowledge and skills concerning relationships between humans, wildlife and the natural world. "The WILD curriculum is another vehicle for teaching a variety of subjects from math to science to language arts, and from social studies to music," Fish and Game regional conservation educator Evin Oneale noted. "And because there's something magical about wildlife - especially for youngsters - Project WILD promotes better learning, making it an invaluable tool for any teacher's toolbox."

Cost for the 15-hour workshop is $20 to cover materials including WILD textbooks, posters and video tapes. Participants may also opt to take the workshop for one hour of graduate or undergraduate credit. This basic workshop serves as a solid foundation for the week-long, three credit, advanced WILD workshops offered during the summer months.

More than 70 percent of Idaho teachers currently incorporate WILD activities into their curriculum. If you are a teacher or youth group leader unfamiliar with Project WILD, ask around. Discover how other professional educators feel about the program. Then contact Fish and Game to reserve your spot for this upcoming workshop.