Press Release

July 2009

Deadline to Buy Controlled Hunt Tags

Big game hunters whose names were drawn in controlled hunt drawings have until Saturday, August 1, to buy their tags, except in unlimited hunts.

Any tags not purchased by that date will be forfeited. After a second drawing, any leftover tags are sold over the counter.

The rules have changed for controlled hunt permits this year. Hunters who were successful in a controlled hunt drawing no longer have to buy a separate permit. All permit information is included on the tag.

Results of deer, elk, pronghorn and fall black bear controlled hunt drawings are available on the Fish and Game Website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Hunters can buy those tags at any Fish and Game office, license vendor, by telephone at 800-554-8685 or 800-824-3729, or online at https://id.outdoorcentral.us/. For information on rules and dates for specific hunts consult the regulations brochure or the Fish and Game Website.

For hunters who weren't drawn, big game over-the-counter tags also are available in many big game units. For details contact license vendors or local Fish and Game offices.

Commission Alters Hunting Rules

Meeting in McCall July 22 and 23, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted several changes to current hunting rules.

These changes will be submitted in the 2010 session of the Idaho Legislature, and, if approved, would go into effect in fall hunting seasons that year. None of the changes affect hunting in 2009 seasons. The changes concern methods, not seasons or bag limits, which the commission sets in March.

Some items the commission acted on were minor language changes aimed at aligning commission actions and Idaho codes, but several changes proposed by Fish and Game have captured the attention of hunters.

The commission rejected a proposal to allow lighted nocks on arrows used in archery hunting. Lighted nocks would have been the first electronic devices permitted in Idaho archery hunting seasons.

All other changes proposed by Fish and Game were approved.

If the changes make it all the way through the legislative process, hunters in 2010 would be permitted for the first time to make use of leashed blood-trailing dogs to track wounded big game animals. The rule would permit using one blood-trailing dog controlled by leash during lawful hunting hours and within 72 hours of hitting a big game animal to track the wounded animal and aid in recovery.

Handguns would be permitted in short range-only hunts. The rules would allow the use of handguns that fire straight-walled cartridges not originally developed for rifles. Handguns would still not be permitted in muzzleloader-only or archery-only seasons.

Motorized vehicle restrictions would go into effect in Units 66A and 76 in eastern Idaho, as requested by hunters there. Mule deer and elk populations in those units do not meet Fish and Game objectives and these restrictions are aimed at boosting buck and bull survival as well as reducing conflicts between users.

Fishing Rules Changes Adopted

Fishing rules that could go into effect in 2011 were adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission when it met July 22 and 23.

The commission approved a fisheries bureau proposal to allow an unlimited number of rods for fishing on Lake Pend Oreille from a boat.

The proposal is in line with current Fish and Game efforts to encourage anglers to take as many large predator fish - rainbow and lake trout - as possible from the lake until kokanee populations can come back enough to sustain those large predators and a kokanee fishery. Anglers have been offered cash rewards for catching big fish for several years on Lake Pend Oreille.

Without a healthy kokanee population in the lake, fisheries biologists say the predator population would collapse and would not be recoverable.

Fisheries Chief Ed Schriever told commissioners he expected the unlimited rod rule would have to be in effect for only one two-year cycle of fishing rules.

Schriever also asked the commission to require a sliding sinker on lines used for sturgeon fishing. This kind of gear arrangement reduces the danger that a hooked sturgeon would be hung up by lost tackle.

He was not asking for mandatory use of circle hooks for sturgeon fishing pending further research, he said. Captive hatchery sturgeon will be used to test whether circle hooks actually diminish potential harm to sturgeon. Using the widely-recommended circle hooks will not "move us backwards in the conservation of sturgeon, or the preservation of sturgeon fishing in Idaho, he said, but "we think a more measured approach" is needed.

Most of the other fishing rules changes the commission approved were minor language alterations.

Commission Releases Bighorn Tags for Auction and Lottery

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, during their meeting July 22 and 23, released two bighorn sheep tags, one to be auctioned and one for a lottery.

The lottery tag went to the Idaho Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, formerly the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, and the auction tag went to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho. The two groups will market the tags as fund raisers, with the proceeds going to help bighorn sheep research and habitat.

The groups keep only enough to cover their expenses - or no more than 5 percent of the money raised by the auction and 25 percent by the lottery.

This is the first year when a group other than the Sheep Foundation has submitted a proposal for a tag auction and a lottery. Commissioners selected the proposals they felt would bring the most money for the benefit and enhancement of bighorn sheep in Idaho.

Commission Reclassifies Grizzly, Eagles, Peregrines

Three Idaho species currently classified as threatened under Idaho law have been reclassified.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting July 22 and 23 adopted a Fish and Game proposal to reclassify grizzly bears as a big game species and to classify the bald eagle and peregrine falcon as protected nongame species.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the peregrine off endangered status under federal law in 1999, and the bald eagle and Yellowstone grizzly bears in 2007.

After legislative review and approval, Idaho code would match federal law regarding these three species.

Salmon Fishing Closed in the Upper Salmon River

All Chinook salmon fishing in Idaho's Salmon River is closed, but a season remains open in the Boise River.

Overall for the season, Fish and Game estimates that the salmon fishery in the upper Salmon River, which opened on June 20, generated about 60,000 angler hours of fishing effort and lead to the harvest of 3,000 Chinook salmon.

The only fishing season for Chinook salmon still open in Idaho is on the Boise River, from its mouth to Barber Dam, 24 hours a day, through September 6 or until further notice.

The daily limit is two Chinook, adult or jack, and the possession limit is six fish. Salmon anglers may use hooks no larger than five-eight inch. Snagging or attempting to snag salmon is unlawful.

Anglers must cease fishing for Chinook salmon - including catch-and-release - when they retain the daily, possession or season limits for the water in which they are fishing. Anglers may not harvest more than 40 Chinook salmon, as recorded on their permits, during the season.

Anglers must have in their possession a valid 2009 Idaho fishing license and salmon permit to fish for Chinook. They should consult 2009 Chinook salmon rules, which are 1 in season brochures and on the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/salmon/.

Steelhead Harvest Starts on Lower Clearwater River

Anglers have been catching and releasing steelhead on the lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July; starting Saturday, August 1 they can take some home.

Idaho Fish and Game opens the 2009 steelhead harvest season August 1 on a 2 mile stretch of the river, from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Bridge, also known as the Memorial Bridge in Lewiston. The daily bag limit is two, and the possession limit is six.

Anglers are reminded that this early catch-and-keep opportunity for adipose fin-clipped steelhead does not include the Snake River. The mouth of the Clearwater River is officially recognized as a line from a posted sign on the north bank due south to the western-most point on the south bank. A map showing the boundaries is available on Page 70 of the current Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules booklet.

Since the mid 1990s, federal water managers have been supplementing the lower Clearwater's naturally warm summertime water with cold water from the depths of Dworshak Reservoir to aid migration of fall Chinook salmon and steelhead through the lower Snake River. This cool water attracts adult steelhead to the lower Clearwater, where they hold up temporarily before swimming to their final destination.

From July 1 through July 23, 2,844 steelhead were counted at Lower Granite Dam. Some of them are now holding in the lower Clearwater, waiting for the Snake River to turn colder before continuing their migration.

"The majority of these early steelhead are bound for the Snake, Salmon, Grande Rhonde, and Imnaha rivers. Most of the steelhead bound for the Clearwater are larger fish that don't show up until later in September," said Larry Barrett, fisheries biologist for Idaho Fish and Game. "This August fishery is a great opportunity for folks to get out there and catch some very bright and feisty fish."

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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/apps/ffw/, which lists family friendly waters in each of Idaho Fish and Game's seven regions across the state. 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. Or contact the nearest Fish and Game regional office.

2009 Return of the Redfish

Contact: Travis Brown - Eagle Fish Hatchery - 939-4114

The first Redfish Lake sockeye salmon of 2009 returned to the Sawtooth Valley on Thursday, July 23, 2009.

Two female sockeye salmon were captured in the adult trapping facility located on Redfish Lake Creek by employees of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery and transported to the Eagle Fish Hatchery for pre-spawn rearing and observation.

The fish were about 22.5 inches in length and weighed 3.85 pounds each. Fin clips on the adults indicate that these two are likely four-year-old adults from a release group that emigrated from the Sawtooth Valley in the spring of 2007; scales from each fish were taken at the Eagle Fish Hatchery prior to ponding and will later validate the exact age of the fish. Fish deposit "growth rings" on scales as they age similar to growth rings on a tree. In addition, genetic samples from a small portion of fin were taken from each female and will be analyzed by geneticists from the Eagle Fish Genetics Laboratory to determine where the fish will go - either release or incorporation into the captive broodstock program at Eagle.

Juvenile sockeye salmon that leave Idaho swim about 900 miles downstream to the Pacific Ocean and usually spend two to three years in the ocean. Adult sockeye begin their upstream migration to Idaho in the spring, typically arriving in the Sawtooth Valley in late July through early September. Sockeye salmon spawn in late September through October over graveled areas of lake shoals with upwelling water flow.

Look for the Fishing Trailer at a Pond near You

Fish and Game's new fishing trailer will continue to visit local ponds throughout August and the first part of September to help youngsters learn how to fish.

Stocked with information and fishing gear, the trailer is all about promoting fishing as part of a healthy outdoor lifestyle.

To learn more about the trailer, contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465. The trailer schedule is also available on Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

With its exterior wrapped completely with vibrant fish illustrations, the fish trailer is hard to miss.

"It's turned out to be an attention-getter, both for kids and adults," Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said.

The trailer brings fishing equipment and fishing expertise to local ponds.

"We have the fishing gear and the staff to help anyone get started fishing," Oneale said. "All kids and their parents have to do is show up."

Southwest Region Fishing Trailer Schedule
Time Date Location
4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 30 McDevitt Pond, Meridian
5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, August 1 Parkcenter Pond, Boise
5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, August 6 Merrill Pond, Eagle
5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, August 13 Wilson Ponds, Nampa
5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, August 20 McDevitt Pond, Meridian
5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, August 27 Parkcenter Pond, Boise
5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, September 3 Merrill Pond, Eagle

Work Begins on Spirit Lake Boat Launch Improvements

Work has begun on the complete renovation of the Idaho Fish and Game public boat launch on Spirit Lake.

Work began on July 23 and will continue through mid-August.

The launch will be closed to boaters on weekdays until the work is completed. It will remain open on weekends. During construction, boaters are encouraged to use the Maiden Rock Boat Launch operated by Kootenai County. The Maiden Rock launch is on the southeast corner of Spirit Lake and can be reached by following Highway 41 one mile south of the city of Spirit Lake and turning west on Nautical Loop Road.

Parking has long been in short supply at the site, and the current work will double the number of parking spaces available for public use. The parking area will be paved and curbs will be installed.

Lighting will be provided for evening use. A T-shaped fishing dock will be established. Part of the site will be dedicated to a swim beach. The facility will become completely ADA compliant.

The project resulted from collaboration between the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Each agency is providing significant funding to support the improvements. The City of Spirit Lake has also been involved with the project and may open a recreational equipment rental facility next to the launch in 2010.

Questions regarding the project should be directed to Bryan Helmich at the Idaho Fish and Game Panhandle Region Office at 208-769-1414.