Press Release

November 2010

Commission to Set Fishing Seasons and Rules

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set 2011-2012 fishing seasons and rules during its quarterly meeting November 17 and 18 in Jerome.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is presenting the rules in a new format, opening more seasons year round, reducing the number of special rules and also reducing the size of the new brochure. The rules also would change to a regional format to reduce the number of exceptions to statewide rules. The goal has been make the rules simpler and easier to understand and to reduce the number of exceptions.

The commission meeting will start with a public comment period beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 17, at the Idaho Fish and Game Magic Valley Region office at 324 S 417 E, Jerome.

The Thursday meeting will start with routine agenda items. During the morning, commissioners will set fishing rules and seasons, followed by an update on native fish species management and conservation efforts.

They also will consider policy on wildlife salvage of wildlife killed in unintentional vehicle collisions, and whether such salvage should include sale of any salvaged wildlife.

Later in the day, commissioners will consider the Bighorn Sheep Management Plan, and they will hear a report on wolf related expenditures. And they will consider a position statement on grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Commissioners also will hear an update on discussions about the moratorium on waterfowl and turkey hunting outfitting. They will set the 2011 calendar and appoint a commission representative to Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The day will end with an executive session.

Note: Times on the agenda are approximate and subject to change.

Ask Fish and Game: Archery Validation

Q. I will hunt elk with my bow during a late short-range season. I will also use my bow to hunt upland game. Do I need to buy an archery validation?

A. No, the archery validation is only required when you are hunting big game during an archery-only season. It isn't required during short-range seasons or when you are not hunting big game.

More Steelhead Coming to the Boise River

Idaho Fish and Game plans to bring more steelhead to the Boise River this week.

Fish and Game stocked 333 steelhead in the Boise River on Wednesday afternoon, November 10, the first of at least three planned stocking efforts during the next few weeks. The fish were stocked between the Glenwood Bridge and Barber Park.

About 330 steelhead will be stocked in the Boise River on Thursday, November 18, with a third stocking effort tentatively planned for the week of Thanksgiving.

Because the proportion of steelhead returning this year spent two years in the ocean, rather than one, the nine pound average size fish in the return is greater than last year. Because fish released will be older and larger, the transport truck may not be able to haul quite as many per load as in recent years, but the larger fish should add to the excitement generated by the fishery.

Besides a fishing license, anglers hoping to tangle with one of the hatchery steelhead need a $12.75 steelhead permit, good for 20 fish. Though required in other steelhead waters, barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead angling.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River will lack an adipose fin - the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin. Boise River anglers catching a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches that lacks an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead.

Any steelhead caught by an angler not holding a steelhead permit must immediately be returned to the water. Steelhead limits on the Boise River are three fish per day, nine in possession and 20 for the fall season.

The fish are A-run hatchery steelhead, returning to the Oxbow Hatchery fish trap below Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River, owned and funded by Idaho Power Co. Many of the returning steelhead will be collected as broodstock for the steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery as part of Idaho Power's mitigation.

F&G Seeks Information on Anonymous Poacher

Idaho Fish and Game is looking for information to assist with an on-going investigation.

On November 12, Fish and Game received an anonymous letter from "Poacher X" stating:

"Here is a picture of the nice buck I poached up in northern Idaho this year. É I plan to do all my Idaho hunting like this from now on. É I'll send a picture of my nice pronghorn next. Also my turkey." (Expletives deleted)

The return address said only "Poacher X" with a postmark from Everett, Wash.

Anyone with information on this crime, or any other crime, may call Citizen's Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999, 24-hour a day. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

(JPEG image available on request)

Some Upland Game Seasons are Still Open

Though many big game seasons are winding up, many upland game seasons are still open including several upland birds as well as cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares.

Hunters will find upland hunting rules and shooting times in the rules brochure at license vendors and Fish and Game offices as well as on the department Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Seasons still open include:

  • California and bobwhite quail through January 31 in northern and southwestern Idaho. Closed in eastern Idaho.
  • Chukar and gray partridge through January 31.
  • Pheasants through December 31 in Area 1 in northern Idaho and Area 3 in southwestern Idaho; through November 30 in Area 2 in eastern Idaho.
  • Forest grouse, which includes ruffed, spruce and dusky (blue) grouse, through December 31 in most of Idaho; and through January 31 in the Panhandle Region.
  • Cottontail rabbits through February 28 and snowshoe hares through March 31. The daily bag limit for both is eight, with 16 in possession after the first day.

There is no season on pygmy rabbits. To distinguish, note that cottontail tails are dark above and white underneath and the pygmy's tail is buffy gray with no white. The cottontail is more than a foot long, and the pygmy is less than one foot.

Contact the local Fish and Game office to determine whether pygmy rabbits are found in your hunting area.

The fall general turkey season runs through December 15 in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6 in northern Idaho.

All hunters need a valid 2010 Idaho hunting license. In addition, a separate permit is required for hunting sage and sharp-tailed grouse. Turkey hunters also will need tags.

F&G to Stock Steelhead in the Boise River

Idaho Fish and Game will stock about 250 steelhead in the Boise River on Wednesday afternoon, November 10, the first of at least three planned stocking efforts during the next few weeks.

The fish will be stocked between the Glenwood Bridge and Barber Park; additional fish will be released in subsequent weeks.

Because the proportion of steelhead returning this year spent two years in the ocean, rather than one, the nine pound average fish in the return is greater than last year. Because fish released will be older and larger, the transport truck may not be able to haul quite as many per load as in recent years, but the larger fish should add to the excitement generated by the fishery.

Besides a fishing license, anglers hoping to tangle with one of the hatchery steelhead need a $12.75 steelhead permit, good for 20 fish. Though required in other steelhead waters, barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead angling.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River will lack an adipose fin - the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin. Boise River anglers catching a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches that lacks an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead.

Any steelhead caught by an angler not holding a steelhead permit must immediately be returned to the water. Steelhead limits on the Boise River are three fish per day, nine in possession and 20 for the fall season.

The fish are A-run hatchery steelhead, returning to the Oxbow Hatchery fish trap below Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River, owned and funded by Idaho Power Co. Many of the returning steelhead will be collected as broodstock for the steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery as part of Idaho Power's mitigation.

Fish and Game Seeks Area Volunteers

Are you looking for an opportunity to get outside, have fun and make a difference for Idaho wildlife?

Then volunteering for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game may be just for you.

Fish and Game employees will discuss upcoming volunteer opportunities at an informational meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 17, at the Idaho Department of Labor Building, 1350 Troy Road in Moscow (behind Dollar Tree Eastside Marketplace).

Helping biologists collect information at big game checkstations, teaching ice-fishing skills, and constructing bluebird nest boxes are just a few of the many examples for which volunteers are needed this winter.

For more information on volunteering, visit Fish and Game's Web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov; or contact Jen Bruns, volunteer coordinator at Idaho Fish and Game in Lewiston, 208-799-5010.

Information Sought On Deer Poaching West Of Idaho Falls

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is investigating a recently reported poaching case and is asking for the public's help with information to solve this case.

About two to three weeks ago, a group of three or four young men in their late teens or early 20s were seen west of Idaho Falls, hunting deer on private land adjacent to Road 105 West.

Five deer were shot, including three bucks, a doe and a fawn. The bucks were killed and later taken, the fawn left to rot. The doe, which was still alive, was tied up and put in the back of a pickup truck. The doe later escaped.

The vehicle used is described as a newer Chevy or GMC pickup truck, possibly 2000-2004 year model dark green over brown.

Anyone with information please contact Conservation Officer Dan Kelsey at the Idaho Department of Fish & Game at 208-525-7290 or 208-390-0627. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward through the Citizen's Against Poaching program.

From the Field - Chinook Salmon

By Jim Lukens - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

It's as much a hallmark of the changing seasons in central Idaho as the coloring of the leaves and the drop in temperatures.

Adult Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, return to local waters after their multi-year journey to the ocean and come back to lay eggs to complete their life cycle.

During the spring, adult Chinook begin their migration back to central Idaho from the Pacific Ocean. These fish migrate up to 900 miles and climb more than a mile in elevation to return to their natal spawning streams. Spawning occurs in late August and early September.

Time is short for migrating Chinook as all adult salmon die shortly after spawning. The young fish emerge from the spawning gravels the following spring and usually stay in fresh water for 18 months before traveling downstream to the ocean. Chinook typically spend one to three years at sea before returning to natal streams to spawn.

For more than 50 years, Idaho Fish and Game has been conducting annual surveys of Chinook salmon spawning in the Lemhi River. For five weeks each fall, the agency's fisheries biologists walk the upper length of the river, counting salmon and mapping their redds or "nest" sites. Redds are easy to spot. The large fish scour out a depression in the gravel to create what looks like white horseshoe-shaped nurseries into which their eggs are deposited.

The reason for counting redds is to track the progress of the spawning salmon and to gauge the health of the local population.

This fall in the upper Lemhi River above the confluence of Hayden Creek, Fish and Game personnel counted 90 redds, which translates to about 207 spawning adult Chinook salmon. In contrast, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when redd counts were first conducted in the Lemhi River, the average number of redds was 929 per year or roughly 2,137 spawning adult Chinook salmon per year.

Early Fall Arrives on the Boise River W M A

By Ed Bottum - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

I spent some time outside this morning "taking the pulse" of the vegetation growing on the 33,540-acre Boise River Wildlife Management Area.

Sprawling across portions of Ada, Boise and Elmore counties, the Boise River WMA will soon play host to thousands of mule deer migrating to the area. Some of these deer spent the summer in the Sawtooth Mountains above Atlanta; all of them are coming here to spend the winter. This morning, I am checking to see what they will find in the way of forage and cover when they get here.

Luckily, we were spared any wildfires on the WMA this year.

As I walked in the hills just after daybreak, I noticed how the sunlight has softened now, and things are starting to stand out from their background a little more than during the heat of August. Some of the leaves have fallen, and grass stems are lying over. In places there are signs of elk having fed the night before. I noticed things that I had undoubtedly passed by but never observed earlier in the summer - like the huge bald-faced hornet nest, hanging in a golden currant bush a foot off the ground, just a few steps from my office door.

Particularly noticeable today were scats from coyotes filled with grasshopper parts. Dead grasshoppers are everywhere on the ground, turning color just like the leaves - green at first fading through yellow to brown and finally to a nearly black, dark brown sort of greasy smudge.

During August and September I had been seeing rush skeleton weed plants (a wildlife-habitat-invading and degrading noxious weed) with their green "skin" eaten off by grasshoppers. The plants have essentially no leaves to begin with. I was pleased to see these weeds being eaten by the hordes of grasshoppers. But this morning, I noticed that this same grasshopper horde had been eating the bark off the native shrubs that are a critical part of high quality wildlife habitat.

Ask Fish and Game: Waterfowl Limits

Q. I'm confused about the bag limit on ducks. The rules say I can take seven ducks. Does that include all ducks, or seven of each?

A. The bag limit is the total number you can take; all of one kind or some each of several kinds - mallards, northern pintails, scaup, wood duck, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, red-head, American widgeon, bufflehead, northern shoveler, common goldeneye or gadwall - for a total of seven. But the total may not include more than three scaup, two pintails, two redheads, two female mallards or one canvasback.

Steelhead Harvest Season Continues

Steelhead harvest fishing season is still open, and though the fall Chinook season has closed in Idaho waters, there is still plenty of exciting fishing left.

The steelhead harvest season is open on the Clearwater River, the Salmon, the Little Salmon and the lower Snake rivers.

The steelhead limit on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon is three per day and nine in possession. The limit on the Clearwater is two fish per day and six in possession. Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.

Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit. They must stop fishing when the possession limit is reached - even catch-and-release. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

In the boundary waters on the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon or Washington, an angler with a valid 2010 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit may fish where the river forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon or Washington, but may not fish from the shoreline, including wading, and may not fish in sloughs or tributaries on the Oregon or Washington side. An angler may have only the limit allowed by one license regardless of the number of licenses the angler holds.

For more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho, check the Fish and Game Website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/steelhead/.

Waters open for steelhead harvest are: