Press Release

May 2010

C. J.'s Crappie Crop is among Idaho's Best

By Jeff Dillon, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Who would have thought that Idaho would have one of the nation's best fisheries for a warm water species?

Yet that's what we've got right now in the crappie fishery at C.J. Strike Reservoir. Just how big is it? Well, in 2009 anglers harvested nearly 250,000 crappie, and the harvest this year might be just as impressive.

Crappie populations are notoriously cyclic, and it's not uncommon to see populations ebb and flow over time. Just what controls those cycles is a bit of a mystery that fish biologists have been puzzling over for decades. What's really amazing about C.J. Strike is how quickly it went from being a fair crappie fishery to one of Idaho's best.

Crappie have probably been in C.J. Strike since shortly after the dam was built and the reservoir created in the early 1950s. We've witnessed boom and bust cycles in crappie numbers since then. In some years, crappie have provided good fishing, usually followed by several years of fair to poor fishing.

Then, in 2006, the stars lined up to produce the biggest year-class of crappie that anyone can remember. They have survived and grown well, and now those four-year-old fish make up about 95 percent of C.J.'s crappie population. Ranging in size from 9 to 11 inches, these crappie offer a great opportunity to catch some fish for dinner, and even put a few in the freezer for later.

The crappie population may be huge right now, but some anglers are concerned that heavy harvest will collapse the population. Idaho has no limits on crappie and other panfish in most waters, which is more liberal than most states. But knowing a little about crappie biology and the fishery helps ease those concerns.

Hunt Application and Entry Deadlines Near

The deadline to enter the first Super Hunt drawing is Monday, May 31, and the deadline to apply for fall deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear controlled hunts is Saturday, June 5.

The first Super Hunt drawing on June 16 will be tags for eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt; one "Super Hunt Combo" entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn and moose.

A second drawing will be August 15 when another "Super Hunt Combo" and entries for two elk, two deer, and two pronghorn hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11.

Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose, including general hunts and controlled hunts, in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold.

Hunters who win any Super Hunt tag may still enter controlled hunts, except when other restrictions apply. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

Entries in the first Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be entered by May 31, with the drawing set for June 15. The first Super Hunt entry will cost $6. Each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $4 each. The Super Hunt Combo entries work the same way. The first one costs $20, and each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $16.

Hunters can enter at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, or they can order on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/superhunt/, or on the phone at 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685.

Meanwhile, the application period for deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear controlled hunts closes June 5.

Fish and Game Caps Salmon Zone Elk

The Salmon elk zone is home to more than 7,700 elk.

Aerial surveys during February and March showed that the female elk population has dropped only slightly since the previous survey two years ago. However, the number of bulls has shown a sharper decline since 2008.

The bull/cow ratio is about 11 elk bulls per 100 elk cows across hunt units 21, 21A, 28 and 36B. In order to bring back the bull numbers seen in the early to mid 2000s, Fish and Game needs to reduce hunting pressure for a few years. So starting this year, caps have been placed on Salmon Zone B tags. The cap is a 20 percent reduction based on the previous five-year average tag sales.

Idaho residents can buy Salmon B tags starting July 10. While nonresidents began buying their tags last December, the total number of nonresident B tags available is a set number based on historical use. That means 1,489 Salmon Zone B tags are available for Idaho residents. You can check the Idaho Fish and Game website under elk tag quotas in the Licenses/Tags section to see how many B tags are remaining once they go on sale.

If you applied for a controlled elk hunt this spring, drawing results will be available before July 10 so you have time to buy a Salmon Zone B tag if you did not draw a controlled elk tag. While the resident tags are capped at 1,489 tags, last year we sold 1,772 tags, therefore most hunters should be able to purchase a tag for this year. However, don't wait until the last minute to buy your 2010 tag.

Take Me Fishing Trailer at Crowthers Reservoir

Idaho Department of Fish and Game's "Take Me Fishing" trailer will be making its first stop in the southeast region Saturday, June 5.

Join in on the fishing fun on June 5 at Crowthers Reservoir from 9 a.m. until noon. Anyone who registers at the trailer will have access to poles, bait and other fishing equipment at no charge, and they can fish without a license during the time the trailer is onsite.

Reservations are not needed and equipment is checked out on a first-come, first-served basis. Those new to the sport can get help with basic fishing skills, from tying knots, to casting, to reeling in a feisty fish.

Please note that this special free fishing experience is associated with the "Take Me Fishing" trailer program, which is covered by an educational fishing permit. That means that unless you are at a site where the trailer is visiting, and unless you have registered at the trailer, you are not allowed to fish without a license. Once the trailer pulls away, you are not allowed to continue fishing at the site unless you have a fishing license.

There are two exceptions. No fishing license is required for those 13 years old and under, or for those fishing on Idaho's Free Fishing Day on June 12.

"It is Fish and Game's hope that this traveling trailer will recruit new anglers, especially youths, and perhaps reconnect onetime anglers with a pastime they forgot they enjoyed," said Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator for Fish and Game's Southeast Region. "If we can get folks hooked on fishing in just a few hours, then just maybe they will stay hooked for a lifetime."

The trailer will be making the following scheduled stops in southeast Idaho this summer. All events run from 9 a.m. until noon.

Ask Fish and Game: No Free Fishing

Q. If I don't need a fishing license on Free Fishing Day, does that mean I can fish if my license has been revoked?

A. No. When the court revokes someone's hunting, fishing or trapping privileges for a period of time, it means just that, the privileges are revoked, whether they need a license or not. It is illegal for anyone to hunt, fish, or trap or purchase a license to do so during the time the privilege is revoked.

Salmon Fishing on Upper, South Fork Salmon Rivers

This year, Idaho's Free Fishing Day and the opening of Chinook salmon fishing on part of the upper Salmon and the South Fork Salmon rivers both come on the same day - June 12.

No fishing license or salmon permit is required to fish, including Chinook salmon, on Free Fishing Day.

To go fishing on any other day, anglers will need to buy a fishing license; a salmon permit is also required to fish for Chinook. All other fishing regulations still apply. Be sure to check the regulations for the area you intend to fish.

The Chinook season on the Upper Salmon in the river section referred to as the Ellis Area will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. MST starting June 12 until further notice. The Ellis area is from the cable car crossing at the USGS flow gauging station about 150 yards downstream of Island Park in Salmon, upstream to the posted boundary about 20 yards above the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River in Ellis.

The daily limit is five Chinook salmon, only three of which may be adults, and the possession limit is 15 Chinook, only nine of which may be adults.

Adult Chinook salmon are 24 inches or more long, jacks are less than 24 inches in length.

The upper Salmon near Stanley will open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 3 and close July 5. It will be open from the posted boundary about 20 yards upstream of Valley Creek in Stanley, upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the weir at Sawtooth Hatchery.

The limit is three Chinook salmon, only one of which may be an adult, and the possession limit is nine Chinook, only three of which may be adults.

The South Fork Salmon River will be open from June 12 until further notice from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Please Leave Baby Animals Alone

The end of May and the beginning of June is the peak fawning and calving season for Idaho's deer, elk and pronghorn.

With campers and other outdoors enthusiasts heading out to the woods, well-meaning folks often find baby birds and other animals that seem to be abandoned. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking people to leave them alone.

"We have people calling us or bringing baby animals to the office every year," said Regan Berkley, Fish and Game regional wildlife biologist for the Magic Valley Region. "Even though their intentions are good, it isn't the best thing for the animals."

Mother animals often leave their young as they forage. If they return to their young to find people milling around, they will often leave the area and come back when the people are gone. If people have taken the baby animal, the mother will return to find their baby gone.

"If people bring young animals into the office we don't have many options," Berkley said. "We can attempt to return them back to where they were found, and hope their mother finds them, or we can see if any area zoos want them.

"During early summer, the baby is simply too young to survive on its own," she said. "Placing the animal in a zoo also doesn't always work, because zoos don't always have space for additional animals, particularly at this time of year."

If the animal is successfully placed in a zoo, it means the animal is removed from the wild forever. If neither returning the animal to the wild nor sending it to a zoo are good options, biologists have to consider whether euthanasia is the most humane thing to do.

"Basically, the only really good option is for the baby to stay in the wild in the first place," Berkley said.

F&G Plans Porcupine Lake Rehabilitation

Brook trout can be fun to catch and are excellent on the dinner table.

But in some places this non-native species poses a significant threat to the future of native trout. Brook trout can out-complete native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout when the areas they occupy overlap.

Porcupine Creek in the Lightning Creek drainage is one place where brook trout overlap with native fish. Brook trout in the Porcupine Creek drainage largely come from an upstream source population in Porcupine Lake. These fish not only create problems in Porcupine Creek, but also act as a source for distribution of brook trout to other locations in the Lightning Creek drainage.

To help conserve native fish in the Lightning Creek drainage, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is planning to remove brook trout in the upper Porcupine Creek drainage and Porcupine Lake. The lake is about five miles north of Clark Fork. Forest Road #419 followed by Forest Trail #642 reach the area from Hwy 200.

The project is entirely within Panhandle National Forest.

Brook trout removal would be accomplished by applying rotenone, a naturally derived chemical commonly used to kill undesired fish. Rotenone affects only gill-breathing animals, so the effects on the ecosystem are minimal. This treatment is planned for August.

Porcupine Lake has a long history as a recreational fishery. To restore fishing opportunities after brook trout are removed Fish and Game plans to stock the lake with westslope cutthroat trout.

Fish and Game welcomes comments on this proposed project. Comments should be received no later than June 30th, 2010. Please direct your comments to: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Panhandle Regional Office Attn: Rob Ryan, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83815, 208-769-1414.

Wolves, Sturgeon Mountain Lake Management to Highlight Meeting

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to an Idaho Fish and Game morning meeting beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 5 at the Idaho Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th Street in Lewiston.

Fish and Game personnel will present information on a number of topics including:

  • Wolf Hydatid disease facts vs. fallacy, management update.
  • Sturgeon management and research.
  • Mountain lake fisheries management.
  • Salmon season update.

"This will be a very informative meeting and we hope folks bring their questions and comments," said Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region supervisor.

The morning meeting is open to anyone and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about local wildlife issues. The meeting will conclude by 9:30 a.m., with free coffee and doughnuts provided.

Volunteers Sought for Spring Valley Reservoir Clean-up Day

To prepare for the upcoming summer and Free Fishing Day, a volunteer cleanup event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday, June 4 at Spring Valley Reservoir near Troy.

Volunteers will be needed to help clean-up litter surrounding the reservoir, clean out fire pits, assist with fence repair, spread gravel along trail and various other projects. Volunteers should bring gloves, water, hat, sunscreen and good boots. All tools will be provided.

Lunch and drinks will be provided to all volunteers. Please contact the Idaho Fish and Game office in Lewiston to sign-up or for more information, 208-799-5010.

Spring Valley Reservoir is 55-acre in size and located 13 miles east of Moscow and 2 miles north of Highway 8. Managed with simple fishing regulations, Spring Valley provides a great place for families, kids and first-time anglers. Rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie are present in good numbers.

Register Now for Hunter, Bow Education Courses

First time hunters interested in pursuing game in Idaho this fall are encouraged to register soon for the mandatory course.

"There are a few seats still available in courses offered this June," said Jen Bruns, volunteer coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Courses offered during June in Lewiston include:

  • Hunter Education: from 6 to 9 p.m. June 1, 2, 3 and 4 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 5.
  • Hunter Education: from 6 to 8:30 p.m. June 7, 9, 11, 14, 16 and 18, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 19.
  • Archery Education: from 6 to 9 p.m. June 11, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 12.

All courses will be at the Lewiston Fish and Game office, 3316 16th Street.

Students can also view a list of scheduled courses and register online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, or by visiting the Lewiston Fish and Game Office.

Beginning hunters planning to hunt this fall should register for a course prior to June 30. After that date, the number of courses offered is very limited due to volunteer instructor availability.

Chinook Salmon Harvest Limits Have Changed

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has changed the daily and possession limits for Chinook salmon on the lower Salmon River and the Little Salmon River, as well as the statewide annual limit.

On the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, the daily limit is five Chinook salmon, only three of which may be adults. The possession limit is 15, only nine of which may be adults.

The statewide limit for all waters has gone up to 40 adults for 2010.

Daily and possession limit in other waters open to Chinook salmon fishing have not changed.

The daily limit on the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River from Dug Bar to Hells Canyon Dam is four salmon, only two of which may be adults, and the possession limit is 12, only six of which may be adults.

The daily limit on the Clearwater River main stem, North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork and on the Lochsa River is three Chinook, only one of which may be an adult. The possession limit is nine salmon, only three of which may be adults.

An adult Chinook is 24 or more inches in total length; a jack is less than 24 inches in total length.