Press Release

June 2006

Spring Chinook Fishing Closed Statewide

Tuesday morning, June 27, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game closed spring Chinook salmon fishing statewide.

The department director's office signed a closure notice for the Little Salmon River effective Tuesday. The harvest target for spring hatchery Chinook in the Little Salmon has been reached.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission earlier in June had closed the spring Chinook season on the Lower Salmon River at the end of fishing on Saturday, June 24, in hopes of extending the season in the Little Salmon.

Salmon fishing in the Clearwater and Snake rivers closed earlier in June.

As of June 26, more than 25,500 salmon had crossed Lower Granite Dam, the last obstacle before they reach Idaho. The 10-year average for this date is 54,265 and last year's number was 27,790 Chinook.

The number of Rapid River hatchery fish returning up the Lower Salmon and the Little Salmon was estimated at 4,100 to 4,200 fish. The state's harvestable share of those is about 1,000 fish.

Fish managers noted that anglers had reached the limit and feared that additional fishing would exceed the state's share.

Meanwhile, the commissioners earlier in June also adopted a summer Chinook salmon season on the South Fork Salmon River, starting June 29. The South Fork will be open every day, starting Thursday, until further notice, from the mouth of Goat Creek upstream to about 100 yards below the South Fork salmon weir and trap. The bag limit is one fish per day, three in possession and 10 for the season statewide for all salmon fisheries.

New Disabled License Rule Adopted

Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday morning, June 22, adopted amended rules for disabled hunting and fishing licenses.

Commissioners adopted rules that would grant reduced cost licenses to hunters and anglers with "permanent disabilities," as directed by new state legislation that takes effect July 1.

The law adds "certified as permanently disabled by a physician" to the list of qualifying criteria for a reduced fee license. Under the new law, once a hunter or angler is certified as permanently disabled, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game must keep that certification on record permanently so the license holder would not be required to prove their disability each year.

Commissioner Wayne Wright, a Twin Falls physician, pointed out that some people who qualify as "permanently disabled" at one point in time may not qualify later. Some conditions, considered by physicians as having "no expectation for a fundamental or marked change at any time in the future," may not last forever.

"People do get better," Wright said. He suggested, instead that the rules require recertification ever five years or 10 years.

Department Director Steve Huffaker agreed but noted that the definition was adopted by the Legislature, citing the example of an amputee as permanently disabled. The Legislature was clear that once a person is classified as having a permanent disability they should not be required to prove it every year, he said.

That would make it impossible to require periodic recertification and still comply with the legislation.

Under current law, certification for a reduced fee disability license is based on eligibility for federal supplemental income or Social Security disability income, railroad retirement board disability, a nonservice connected veterans pension, or a service-connected veterans disability of at least 40 percent.

Deadline to Buy Controlled Hunt Permits

Big game hunters must buy controlled hunt permits and tags by August 1.

Any permits and tags not purchased by that date will be forfeit. After a second drawing, any left over permits and tags are sold over the counter.

Results of deer, elk, antelope and fall black bear controlled hunt drawings are available on the Fish and Game Website. Hunters can buy those permits and tags at any Fish and Game office, license vendor, by telephone at 800-554-8685 or 800-824-3729, or online at

For information on rules and dates for specific hunts consult the regulations brochure or the Fish and Game Website at: And those lucky enough to draw can use Fish and Game's hunt planner on the Website at: to plan those fall hunts.

Controlled Hunt Draw Results Online

Hunters who applied for elk, deer, antelope and bear controlled hunts can learn online whether or not they were successful in the recent computerized drawing.

Applicants can enter their hunting license numbers to find out instantly how they did in the drawing. Results are featured in the hunting section of the Idaho Fish and Game Website at Successful applicants will be notified by mail after July 10.

The web site shows current hunting brochures and includes the Idaho Hunt Planner, providing important maps and information for hunters.

Elmore County Horse Shows West Nile Virus

A horse in Elmore County has tested positive for the West Nile virus, the Idaho Department of Agriculture announced Friday, June 23.

Magpies in Gem and Gooding counties also have tested positive for West Nile virus.

In 2005, West Nile virus turned up in 15 of Idaho's 44 counties, infecting 13 humans, 114 horses, 15 birds, and one dog.

Since the introduction of equine vaccines, the number of horses reported with West Nile infections has decreased dramatically nationwide, from 15,000 horses in 2002 to 1,341 in 2004 and 1,100 in 2005 according to the USDA.

"Almost all of the 113 Idaho horses diagnosed with West Nile virus last year were not vaccinated. Our advice to horse owners is to make sure that their horses are protected, and if not, they should contact their veterinarian immediately," said Marilyn Simunich, a veterinarian at the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

The most common sign of West Nile virus in horses is weakness, usually in the hindquarters. Weakness may be indicated by a widened stance, stumbling, leaning to one side and toe dragging. In extreme cases, paralysis may follow. Fever is sometimes evident, as are depression and fearfulness. Lip smacking, chewing movements and fine muscle tremors may be noticed.

Humans cannot contract West Nile virus through contact with an infected horse.

The recent Elmore County case serves as a reminder of the importance to vaccinate horses against the virus and for people to take appropriate steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites. In Idaho, the appearance of equine cases has preceded cases in humans by three to four weeks.

Utah Angler Loses Hunting, Fishing Privileges

A Utah man will have three years to ponder the bargain that is an Idaho fishing license.

Christopher Berry, 31, of Hill Air Force Base, won't be able to fish or hunt in Idaho for the next three years and must pay $894 in fines, court costs and civil penalties, as well as forfeit two sturgeon rods, following a Memorial Day weekend fishing excursion on C.J. Strike Reservoir. Among several other violations, Berry failed to buy a fishing license before the outing.

When contacted on the reservoir by Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officers Matt O'Connell and Bill London, Berry was actively fishing with three poles - an angler can fish with no more than two poles, except during ice fishing, if they have a two-pole permit. He told the officers that he had not yet bought a fishing license. He said he was using two of the rods to fish for sturgeon, while using the other to catch smaller fish he would use as sturgeon bait.

One of the sturgeon rods had a large piece of smallmouth bass attached to a barbed sturgeon hook - only barbless hooks can be used to fish for sturgeon.

Upon further investigation, the officers discovered that Berry had one 8-inch smallmouth bass on a stringer, and another bass of similar size cut up for bait - general fishing rules apply at C.J. Strike, including a 12-inch minimum size for smallmouth bass.

When the investigation wrapped up, Berry packed the following paperwork home with him: two misdemeanor citations for fishing without a valid license and for possession of undersized bass; two infraction citations for using a barbed hook for sturgeon and for fishing with three poles.

Ask Fish and Game:

Q. Can I shoot carp with my cross-bow?

A. Yes, but only in waters that are open for taking game fish. According to the Fish and Game rule book, fishing with a bow and arrow, crossbow, spear or mechanical device, excluding firearms, is permitted only for taking bullfrogs and unprotected nongame fish - such as carp - but a fishing or combination license is required.

South Fork Salmon Season May be Short

The preseason expectation was for a return of hatchery summer Chinook to the South Fork of the Salmon River similar to the return in 2005, but the fish are not cooperating.

The recommendation to open the South Fork to salmon fishing was based on a forecast that 2,500 to 3,100 summer Chinook raised at the McCall Fish Hatchery would return to Idaho.

Through June 28, about 2,180 McCall Hatchery summer Chinook had crossed Bonneville Dam. Biologists now think the run is coming to an end because few new McCall summer Chinook seem to be crossing Bonneville, based on PIT tag detections.

In 2005, an estimated 3,600 McCall Hatchery summer Chinook crossed Bonneville Dam so this year's return appears much lower.

This hatchery run returns to the McCall Hatchery weir near Knox Bridge on the upper South Fork of the Salmon River. The hatchery needs about 1,300 fish for broodstock. "Surplus" fish above that number would be available for sport and tribal harvest.

Of the fish that have passed Bonneville Dam, 50 percent already have crossed Lower Granite Dam on their way upstream. Fishery managers estimate that if at least 80 percent of the McCall Hatchery summer Chinook that cross Bonneville make it past Lower Granite Dam there will be about 350 surplus hatchery fish available for the sport fishery.

That is definitely fewer fish than the 1,085 summer Chinook harvested in 2005.

The 2006 summer Chinook season opened on the South Fork on June 29, when four fish were caught. Biologists expect the harvested number to increase rapidly as river flows drop to fishable levels.

Flows also have been too high to install the hatchery weir on the upper South Fork, but McCall Hatchery staff were hoping to have it installed by Saturday, July 1.

Brook trout: Idaho's most popular non-native trout

By Kevin Meyer, Fisheries Research Biologist

Many anglers love to fish small creeks, brushy beaver ponds, or even high mountain lakes to catch a mess of fish for the frying pan back at camp. One fish in Idaho that is well adapted to all of these environments is the brook trout. What you may not know is that brook trout are not native to Idaho.

Originally, brook trout were only found in the eastern United States and Canada. As early settlers began moving west, they brought brook trout with them and stocked them in local streams and lakes. Fish and Game agencies have also stocked brook trout, to the point that they are now found in every western state. They are a very popular family fishery because they're usually plentiful, easy to catch and good eating!

The problem is that they outcompete many trout native in the west, such as cutthroat trout and bull trout. One reason for this is that they reproduce at a much younger age than most of our native fish (often when they are only one year old). Also, brook trout spawn in the fall instead of the spring, so brook trout fry (juvenile fish) start feeding earlier in the year than fry of most native trout and thus they tend to be bigger in size. This size advantage allows them to pick the best areas for feeding, sometimes bullying native trout out of the way.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "What are the rules for bow fishing?"

Answer: Bow fishing is a combination of hunting with a bow for bullfrogs unprotected non-game fish species such as carp.

Only bull frogs and unprotected non-game species may be taken and you must possess a valid fishing license. Bow fishing is only allowed in waters during periods when the season is open for game fish.

If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at

How to Catch Pend Oreille Trout

A new video production has been recently released that provides tips on how to catch rainbow trout in Lake Pend Oreille.

"Catch a Kam with Captain Ken", is a 73 minute DVD made by a professional guide that is now available for anglers wanting to improve their success at catching rainbow trout in Idaho's largest natural lake. The video covers planer boards and terminal tackle. Some of the most effective flies, spoons and plugs are identified. The video is specifically geared toward the Lake Pend Oreille fishery.

The video is available for free check out at Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) offices in Coeur d'Alene, Bayview (Fisheries Research Station), and Clark Fork (Hatchery).

Copies are also available for check out from public libraries in Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, Post Falls, Spirit Lake, Sandpoint, Blanchard, Priest River, Priest Lake, and Clark Fork.

IDFG fishery managers are encouraging anglers to catch and keep kamloops rainbow trout (popularly referred to as Ôkams') and lake trout from Lake Pend Oreille. Predator and prey species are out of balance in the lake, resulting in the closure of a once popular kokanee salmon fishery. Rainbow and Lake Trout are the primary predators on kokanee in the lake and are largely responsible for the decline in kokanee populations.

Anglers catching and harvesting either rainbow or lake trout can enter the fish heads into an angler incentive program funded by Avista Utilities and administered by IDFG. All heads will be scanned for PIT tags worth from $100-$2000. Every rainbow or lake trout harvested is entered into the monthly drawings for 40 cash prizes of $100 and one cash prize of $1,000. All anglers over 18 years of age also receive one Idaho lottery scratch ticket for each fish harvested.

Help prevent wildfires

JEROME - After a wet spring, tall stands of cheat-grass and other vegetation from the valleys to the mountains are beginning to dry. To help protect Idaho's wildlands from fire, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking sportsmen and others enjoying the outdoors to be extremely cautious.

"With the 4th of July weekend upon us, hundreds of people will be headed to the woods and rangelands for a long holiday weekend," said David Parrish, Idaho Fish and Game Regional Supervisor in the Magic Valley Region. "We are asking people to adhere to the rules and think before acting. If someone starts a fire, the person responsible could be held liable for the cost of putting out the fire and restoration of the land. Criminal charges could also be pressed by the regulating land management agency."

"We will have thousands of people out fishing, riding ORVs and camping this summer," Parrish said. "All it takes is one misguided step from one person to close down a whole area for the year, and the wildlife could lose needed habitat."

When heading to the backcountry, here are a few things to remember:

- Leave fireworks home - fireworks are prohibited on most public lands

- Park vehicles on areas clear of vegetation

- Confine campfire to developed sites

- Be careful with campfires and make sure they are out before leaving or going to bed

- Check and make sure ATVs and motorcycles have spark arresters that are in good working order

For more information on fire danger, call your local U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or the Idaho State Lands Department office.