Press Release

July 2007

Redfish Sockeye Return

The first two Redfish Lake sockeye salmon of 2007 have returned to the Sawtooth Valley.

Two adults, one male and one female, were trapped in late July at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Sawtooth Fish Hatchery adult trap on the Salmon River in Stanley and taken to the Eagle Fish Hatchery.

The Redfish Lake sockeye salmon was listed as an endangered species in 1991 and recovery efforts involving state, federal and tribal entities have been underway since then to preserve genetic resources and prevent extinction. The Redfish Lake sockeye stock is unique to the Pacific Northwest - noted for being the farthest-migrating sockeye salmon, traveling more than 900 river miles, to the highest elevation at 7,000 feet above sea-level, and the southern-most spawning population of sockeye salmon in the world.

Hatchery employees trapped a male sockeye 21inches long, 2 pounds 15.7 ounces, and transported it to the Eagle hatchery for pre-spawn rearing and observation on July 23. They also trapped a female, 21.25 inches long, 3 pounds 1 ounce, on July 28. It was taken to the hatchery on July 30 for pre-spawn rearing and observation.

Researchers at the Eagle Fish Hatchery don't know the ages of the fish yet, but they have taken scales from the each sockeye and further analysis will indicate the age of the individuals. Fish deposit "growth rings" on scales as they age - similar to growth rings on a tree.

Both fish were "unmarked" with no external or internal tags and no fin clips.

They are the offspring of one of three potential sources:

Salvage Order Issued for Winder Reservoir

The southeast regional office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been notified by the Twin Lakes Canal Company that Winder Reservoir in Franklin County will be drained this summer because of drought.

Therefore, Fish and Game is issuing a salvage order for Winder Reservoir, effective through October 31. All bag, possession, size and number limits have been lifted.

Fish may be taken by any method except use of firearms, explosives, chemicals or electric current. A valid Idaho fishing license is also required.

For more information call Fish and Game in Pocatello at 208-232-4703.

For directions to Winder Reservoir, call Fish and Game or visit the Idaho Fishing Planner found on Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Salmon Harvest Up Slightly from Last Year

The Chinook salmon fishing season in Idaho is over for 2007, with results similar to last year.

Anglers caught and kept 2,412 adult and jack Chinook this year; they caught 2,167 fish last year.

Spring and summer Chinook salmon counted at Lower Granite Dam in southeastern Washington through July 15 totaled:

- 28,619 adults and 11,630 jacks in 2007.

- 27,958 adults and 1,456 jacks in 2006.

- 33,141 adults and 2,108 jacks in 2005.

The 10-year average by July 15 is 60,578 adults and 4,999 jacks at Lower Granite. Jacks are fish that return from the ocean after only one year.

Though not always an accurate forecast, the jack count is a good indictor of a large return of adults in 2008.

The high jack counts this year bode well for next year's salmon season. Jack numbers compare to 2000 when 13,711 jacks returned and to 2003 when 11,933 returned. Those years were followed by large runs of adult Chinook-almost 184,000 in 2001 and 79,000 in 2004-as of July 15.

In 2004, anglers caught more than 15,000 Chinook salmon in Idaho.

Only about 78 percent of the expected number of wild salmon, listed under the Endangered Species Act, crossed Lower Granite Dam this, while about 3,700 more hatchery salmon than expected returned this year.

Fall Chinook begin crossing Bonneville Dam about August 1, and they enter Idaho in late summer and early fall.

(Data is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the University of Washington's Columbia River DART Website)

Two New Record Fish

Two record fish have been caught in Idaho this summer.

Cliff Watts of Weiser caught a white crappie on July 9 in the Crane Creek Reservoir. The fish was 3 pounds, 8 3/4 ounces, 18 1/4 inches long with a 15 inch girth. He caught the record breaker with a one-eight-ounce red and white squid-tail tail jig on a six pound test line.

The previous record white crappie was a 3-pound, 1-ounce 17-incher caught on a worm in the Crane Creek Reservoir in May 2001 by Leslie Greenwood of Council.

The world record white crappie is 5 pounds, 3 ounces.

And this one won't fit in the cooler.

Darin Patterson of Lewiston caught a grass carp on June 9, in the Snake River at Hells Gate Marina. The giant fish was 39 pounds, 42 1/2 inches long and 26 1/2 inches around. He caught the leviathan with a worm on a 10 pound test line.

Idaho records don't include grass carp. Until this year, the biggest carp of any kind on the record was 37 1/2 pounds, 44 inches long with a 25 1/2 inch girth. It was caught in Brownlee Reservoir by Jere Bower of Boise in June 1988 on a Shad Rap with 12-pound test line.

In 2004, an Arkansas angler caught an 80 pound grass carp.

Second Controlled Hunt Deadline Coming

Hunters who weren't drawn in the first round of controlled hunt permits for deer, elk, antelope or fall black bear have another chance.

The application period for the second drawing starts August 5 and runs through 15. The second drawing will be August 20. The application fee for the second controlled hunt drawing is $6.50.

Any left over permits will go on sale August 25.

Residents can begin buying general season tags August 1.

For more information call the local Idaho Department of Fish and Game office, or visit the agency Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Early Elk Seasons Open This Week

Some early elk hunts open Wednesday, August 1, most of them anterless "green-field" hunts.

The early "green-field" hunts in six elk management zones-Palouse, Salmon, Weiser River, Lemhi, Beaverhead and Pioneer zones-are meant to help landowners reduce crop damage.

Early archery and any-elk hunts also start August 1 in the Snake River elk zone.

The green-field hunts are open only outside the National Forest Boundary and within one mile of cultivated fields. They help reduce depredation problems and control populations causing crop damage by harvesting or discouraging animals in specific areas or portions of units.

August hunts, however, bring concerns about waste. Hunters have an ethical and legal obligation to salvage the edible portions of their kill. But meat spoilage is an important concern during typical hot August weather.

The key to preserving meat is starting the cooling process quickly. Game animals should be skinned immediately and quartered in most cases and transported quickly to cold storage facilities. Early season hunters may consider using large ice chests to keep game meat cool and clean. Removing meat from the bones also helps speeds cooling.

Hunters are encouraged to review the 2007 Big Game Regulations for additional details.

Idahoan Wins Bighorn Lottery

Gary Maxwell of Boise is one lucky guy.

Idaho Fish and Game Director Cal Groen drew his number as the winner of Idaho's special bighorn sheep lottery permit Thursday evening, in the presence of members of the Idaho chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and other hunters.

Hunters pay as little as $10 for a ticket to enter the annual drawing for a permit to hunt bighorn sheep. Permits for bighorn sheep are among the most desirable in Idaho. Another tag will be auctioned at the foundation's annual convention next February.

The special lottery tag allows Maxwell to hunt in any open bighorn sheep hunting area in Idaho except Unit 11 during established seasons. The opportunity to hunt bighorns in Unit 11 alternates between the auction tag buyer in odd-numbered years and the lottery tag winner in even-numbered years.

Money raised by the permit drawing supports Idaho's Wildlife Health Laboratory in Caldwell.

"This permit has raised $650,000 to support the Wildlife Health Laboratory since this program was begun in 1992" said Dale Toweill, trophy species coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game and the supervisor for the Wildlife Health Laboratory. "This is a shining example of how sportsmen raise funds to give something back to all citizens of Idaho, hunters or not. These funds allow wildlife veterinarians to work with the Department of Agriculture on topics of concern to both the wildlife community and livestock interests, providing direct and indirect benefits to all Idahoans."

The lab investigates tests for wildlife diseases, such as brucellosis, chronic wasting disease, West Nile virus and other pathogens of concern to hunters and the livestock industry.

Last year the lottery raised more than $86,000 for the wildlife lab.

Nature Center Gets New Fish

Only a few hours from the river and still full of energy from their spawning drive, four Chinook salmon arrived at the Morrison Knudsen Nature Center Tuesday afternoon, July 17.

Four Chinook salmon were delivered to the Nature Center's Alpine Lake, two 3-year-old males, called jacks; and two females, 4- and 5-year-olds based on their length. Jacks spend one year in the ocean, while adult females have spent two to three years in the ocean. It is extremely rare anymore for Chinook to reach 6 years old. And it is also rare for females to return as 3-year-olds. They need size to carry 3,500 to 7,500 eggs.

These fish were caught in the department's salmon trap on the South Fork of the Salmon River east of Cascade, about 740 miles inland and about 5,000 feet above sea level. Before they headed upriver, they had traveled thousands of miles in the ocean.

The fish left Idaho as juveniles-the 5-year-old female in 2004, the 4-year-old female in 2005 and the two males in 2006. Adult salmon smell their way back to the streams where they were hatched. Somehow they record and replay the smells of the trip to the ocean.

The fish delivered to the Nature Center are hatchery fish, identified as such by having their adipose fins clipped before they were released as smolts. This identifies them as fish that may be harvested under state fishing regulations and management.

Most of Idaho's Chinook hatcheries were built to supply fish for fisheries, not to replace wild fish. These fish are surplus to hatchery needs for the hatchery program.

Wild fish with adipose fins present must be released unharmed if they are caught. All native, wild runs of Idaho salmon and steelhead are at risk of extinction, either listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Idaho's coho salmon are extinct.

Super Hunt Entry Deadline

The deadline to enter this year's second Super Hunt drawing is Friday, August 10.

Entries must be received at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game headquarters by that date to be included in the August 15 drawing for two elk, two deer and two antelope hunts along with one moose hunt and a Super Hunt Combo.

The Super Hunt Combo ticket entitles the winner to four hunts-one each elk, deer, antelope and moose.

The winners may participate in any open hunt in the state, and any animal they shoot will be in addition to any other tags or controlled hunts the hunter may hold. All other rules of those hunts apply.

Tickets entered, but not drawn, in the first drawing are not entered in the second drawing.

A single ticket costs $6.25. Tickets are available at license vendors and all Fish and Game offices. On the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, click on the Super Hunt logo, or call 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685.

Forms also are available on the Fish and Game Website and in the hunting rules brochure to order tickets by mail. Tickets must be filled out and mailed back to Fish and Game by the deadline. Mail entries to: IDFG License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

Fish and Game Hosts Mule Deer Workshop

Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts are invited to participate in a free Mule Deer Management Workshop.

The workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, August 4, in Room 114 of the Plant Sciences Lecture Hall at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

Workshop participants will hear from mule deer experts John Kie and Terry Bowyer from ISU as well as mule deer management expert Rick Kahn from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission members will also participate in the workshop.

Topics include mule deer biology and behavior, results of a statewide mule deer hunter survey, and the latest on the Mule Deer Initiative. The workshop will be interactive. Public participation is a key step to revising the statewide Mule Deer Management Plan this year.

The workshop is sponsored by the Southeast Idaho Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsman's Warehouse. Lunch will be provided, and names will be drawn for prizes at the end of the workshop.

Seating is limited, and for reservations or more information, contact Fish and Game in Pocatello at 208-232-4703.

Ask Fish and Game: Take the Kids Fishing

Q. Where's a good place to take my grandkids fishing?

A. Family Fishing Waters are great places to take the grandchildren and the rest of the family fishing. They are easy to get to, the rules are simple and they have plenty of fish to catch. To find good places to take a youngster fishing, directions on how to get there, what kind of fish will you find, and some tips to make your first fishing trip a success, go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/family/, which lists family friendly waters in each of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's seven regions across the state. Or contact the nearest Fish and Game regional office. Or go to the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ and click on the "Idaho Fishing Planner" logo under the picture, and search for a place.

All Fires Prohibited on Upper Snake Fish and Game Lands

Unrelenting hot, dry weather has forced Idaho Department of Fish and Game habitat managers in the Upper Snake Region to prohibit all open fires at wildlife management areas and access sites.

These restrictions will start on Friday, July 27, and continue until further notice.

"Weather conditions have left vegetation very dry, creating extreme fire danger," regional habitat manager Terry Thomas said. "We don't want to take any chances that a fire could break out that could threaten human safety or put important wildlife habitat at risk."

Unlike other resource management agencies, Fish and Game lacks a separate division devoted to fire control and must rely on help from other agencies.

"The firefighting resources of the BLM and Forest Service are already stretched thin enough, we don't want to add to their troubles," Thomas said. "These restrictions help Fish and Game managed lands to match up with restrictions currently in place on lands managed by the federal agencies."

For more information about fire prohibition on Fish and Game lands in the Upper Snake Region contact the regional office in Idaho Falls at 208-525-7290 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529(TDD).