Press Release

December 2011

Spring Steelhead Season Opens New Year's Day

A sure cure for cabin fever, the spring steelhead season opens January 1, but anglers will need a 2012 fishing license and steelhead permit.

Spring steelhead seasons will be open on the:

  • Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
  • Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
  • Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.
  • Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.
  • North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
  • Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.

The season runs through April 30 in most areas, except:

  • On the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31.
  • On the Little Salmon River the season runs through May 15.
  • On the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.

Steelhead are in the Boise River only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. Here steelhead are defined as rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin. This year about 1,000 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River. Barbless hooks are not required in the Boise, but anglers must have a steelhead permit to fish for and keep steelhead.

The steelhead limit is three per day and nine in possession. The statewide limit for the spring season is 20 steelhead. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.

Fish and Game Looking for Angler Opinions

Interested anglers are encouraged to take part in an online survey about fishing in Idaho.

The survey, offered every five or six years, covers a variety of topics including how often people fish and their preferred fish species, what types of fishing regulations they support, and what important conservation priorities Fish and Game should pursue. Fish and Game is also interested in learning more about what other values are important to anglers, such as solitude or natural beauty.

"The angler opinion survey is the first of many steps we take to ensure our fisheries program is providing what the public wants", notes Jeff Dillon, Fish and Game's State Fishery Manager. "We've conducted these surveys for over 30 years and they help us understand what anglers want, measure how well we meet their expectations, and keep us focused on activities that benefit fish and fishermen".

Survey results will help shape Fish and Game's next statewide fish management plan, which will go into effect in 2013. Beginning this spring, Fish and Game offices around the state will conduct public meetings to review the 2007-2012 plan and gather comments for the new plan.

Responses will remain confidential. The online survey can be found on the Fish and Game website at: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/portal/form/public-2011-idaho-angler....

It should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Any participation is appreciated.

Looking Back at 2011

The New Year started off with new fishing rules and a new look to the fishing rule book.

The new brochure was redesigned with an easier-to-read format and 16 pages shorter. All the rules now are presented by region, eliminating the need for statewide rules and regional exceptions. Thus the number of exceptions was reduced by a third overall while maintaining all existing protections.

The new rules made year-round seasons on rivers and streams the general rule instead of the exception.

For years, fishing on rivers and streams was open Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend through November 30. A winter stream season opened December 1 and ran through March 31 on trout, whitefish and brook trout on selected streams.

Through the years, more and more stream segments have been opened through the winter by exception - so many in fact that the exceptions outnumbered the streams open under the general rule.

Most streams already are open through the winter, but the new rules brought some opportunities by opening streams from April through the Friday before Memorial Day.

Other major changes added a month of ice fishing on Henrys Lake and opened the Snake River below American Falls Dam to winter fishing.

New Director

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday, March 31, appointed Virgil Moore as the new director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

"Virgil is best equipped to maintain the positive momentum that is currently present at Idaho Fish and Game," Commission Chairman Wayne Wright said. "He is a highly capable leader who is best able to implement the commission's vision for the future."

Moore, 59, is the current deputy director for field operations at Fish and Game and will replace Director Cal Groen, who is retiring.

Ask Fish and Game: Depredation Hunts

Q. How do I get to participate in a depredation hunt this year?

A. Hunters can sign up to participate in depredation hunts - special controlled hunts used to relieve big game damage problems on agricultural crops - for deer, elk and pronghorn in areas they are willing to hunt in 2012 when the Big Game Seasons and Rules books come out in April. They may apply only once each year for deer, once for elk, and once for pronghorn. Applications received before June 30 are placed in random order. Applications received after June 30 are placed at the end of the list in the order received, and generally have little chance of being selected. Most regions issue only a handful of depredation permits each year. Contact the regional Fish and Game offices in the areas you want to hunt. Applications will be available online and in the 2012 Big Game Seasons and Rules book; or contact the nearest Fish and Game office.

Ask Fish and Game: Spring Turkey Hunts

Q. How soon can I apply for a spring turkey controlled hunt?

A. The application period for spring turkey controlled hunts starts January 15 and runs through February 15. That's also the time to apply for spring black bear controlled hunts. Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15-some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

F&G Commission to Meet in Boise

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet January 25 and 26 at the Fish and Game headquarters in Boise.

The commission's annual meeting will start with a public comment period starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, January 25. Routine agenda items include setting seasons for upland game, furbearers and turkey; a legislative budget preview; and a big game briefing.

A complete agenda will be available on the Fish and Game website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/.

Fish and Game Statement on the Sale of Hammer Flat

Southwest Idaho's deer, elk and pronghorn herds have a much brighter future because of the Boise City Council's decision Tuesday, December 20, to sell Hammer Flat to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The 700-acre property east of Boise is an important remnant of historic winter range that once extended from the foothills west to Lake Lowell in Canyon County.

"Hammer Flat's purpose is to provide critical wildlife habitat and wildlife-based recreation opportunities, including hunting and wildlife viewing," Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. "But we are willing to consider other outdoor recreational activities, including hang gliding."

Idaho Fish and Game will develop a management plan for the property with public input. The process could start sometime next spring.

Fish and Game plans to use $4.23 million in wildlife mitigation funds provided by Bonneville Power Administration to purchase Hammer Flat. A closing date hasn't been set.

Mitigation funds are designed to help offset impacts on wildlife habitat caused by hydropower development in the Northwest.

Hammer Flat is adjacent to Fish and Game's 34,000 acre Boise River Wildlife Management Area.

Egin-Hamer Area Closure Goes Into Effect January 1

What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road 14 years ago continues to be a success not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife.

Even though the winter has been mild so far, the lack of human disturbance created by the closure allows herds of deer, elk and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring. Though the closure has been around for years, officials from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management and Fremont County still make dozens of contacts related to closure violations.

For the 14th year, the Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry to protect wintering deer, elk and moose herds. The closure begins on January 1 and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30, north of it. To help keep things straight, the signs marking the area north of the Egin-Hamer road are fluorescent orange, while the signs for the earlier opening southern portion are lime green.

The arrangement for the closure was agreed upon when county commissioners approached the BLM with the idea of the area closure in return for the re-opening of the Egin-Hamer Road for winter travel. State agencies, such as Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Lands also are involved in the closure and play an active role in management. Individual landowner access to their lands is exempt from the closure. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, is also exempt from the closure.

Comments Sought on Fish and Game-Harris Land Exchange

The Idaho departments of Fish and Game and Parks and Recreation are seeking public comments on a proposal to exchange 45 acres of the 34,000 acre Boise River Wildlife Management Area for 180 acres of private land nearby owned by the Harris Family LTD Partnership.

Adjacent urban activities have affected big game winter use of the 45 acre parcel. The replacement 180 acres, about a mile away, is more secluded big game winter range. Its acquisition by Fish and Game would enlarge the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, connect an isolated 80-acre Fish and Game parcel to the rest of the wildlife management area and would prevent development in critical big game winter range.

The 180 acres to be acquired by Fish and Game would become part of the Boise River Wildlife Management Area. Public use of the Homestead Trail, part of the public Ridge-to-Rivers trail system, would continue to be managed by Fish and Game on the 45 acre parcel after it is exchanged to Harris.

Because the 45 acres was purchased with federal Land and Water Conservation Funds in 1964, the "conversion and replacement" land requires National Park Service approval and an environmental assessment of the proposed land exchange.

Fish and Game and Parks and Recreation are requesting public comments on the environmental assessment.

Public comments will be accepted from December 15 through February 15, 2012. Comments will be submitted to the National Park Service along with the Fish and Game and Parks "conversion and replacement" application.

E-mail comments to: caywoodjs@cableone.net, or mail them to: IDFG-Harris Land Exchange, c/o John Caywood, 8864 Kiowa Drive, Boise ID 83709.

For further information contact John Caywood, exchange coordinator at 208-761-8845 or at caywoodjs@cableone.net.

(Map and environmental assessment available on request)

Comments Sought on Upland Game, Furbearer Seasons

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 upland game and furbearer seasons.

Interested hunters are encouraged to attend one of the regional open house meetings. So far three meetings have been set.

Clearwater Region: 208-799-5010

  • Wednesday, December 21 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clearwater Region office, 3316 16th Street in Lewiston.

Southwest Region: Nampa - 208-465-8465

  • Wednesday, January 4 - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Southwest Region office, 3101 S. Powerline Road, Nampa.

Upper Snake Region: 208-525-7290

  • Wednesday, January 4 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Upper Snake Region office, 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls.

Some ideas that will be considered include:

  • Moving opening day of the upland game bird seasons to the third Saturday in September.
  • Increasing the chukar and gray partridge bag limit back up to 8 each.
  • Increasing possession limits to three times the daily bag limit.
  • Reductions in fall turkey hunting in the Southeast and Southwest regions, changing some hunts from general to controlled hunts in the Southeast Region.
  • Increasing otter quotas in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southeast regions.
  • A few changes to areas open or closed to beaver trapping in the Clearwater and Magic Valley Regions.

Anyone unable to attend an open house may submit comments online, by mail to Upland Game Comments, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707, or by contacting regional wildlife managers.

To comment on upland game proposals go to: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/portal/form/uplandsurvey.

Don't Forget to Report on Deer, Elk, Pronghorn Tags

Hunters who have not yet filed their mandatory hunter reports might be getting a phone call.

Fish and Game is calling a random sample of hunters who have not yet filed their required reports. It includes only individuals whose hunts closed by December 1.

Calls will be made in the evenings through Friday, December 23. At least three attempts will be made to reach each hunter, at different times. Hunters who don't want to be called, should file their reports online.

Hunters who already have filed all their reports will not get a call.

Another sample of hunters , whose hunts extended later into December, will be selected at random to be called in January. These phone calls are critical for estimating the harvest and hunting participation by hunters who failed to file their reports.

So far, 89,000 reports have been filed of 216,000 tags sold for deer, elk and pronghorn. The reports are coming in at about 1,500 per day.

Hunters are required to file a report on their deer, elk and pronghorn hunts within 10 days after harvesting, or within 10 days after the end of the hunt if they did not harvest. They are required to file a report for each tag they bought, whether they went hunting or not.

To make it easier to file, Fish and Game has a 24-hour, toll-free phone line to speak to a live operator when filing reports. Call 1-877-268-9365 to file reports 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hunters will need their tag and hunting license numbers.

Or go to the Fish and Game Website to file a report at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/harvest_report/.

Super Hunt 2012 Entries on Sale Now

Either way, hunters win when they enter the Super Hunt drawings; they get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands.

Super Hunt is a fund-raising drawing for 40 big game tags. The tags are handed out to winners in two drawings. Entries are drawn for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose. That includes general hunts and controlled hunts.

Entries in this year's first Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Fish and Game headquarters by May 31 with the drawing set for June 15.

Even hunters who don't draw a tag win - the proceeds from the drawing go to Fish and Game's Access Yes! program, which compensates willing landowners for providing access to or across private lands to hunters and anglers.

The first drawing in June will be for eight elk, eight deer, and eight antelope 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, antelope, and moose.

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

Hunters can take an animal or animals on their Super Hunt or Super Hunt Combo tags in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

The special drawings began in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Access Yes! program, which helps assure hunter and angler access to and across private lands by compensating willing landowners.