Press Release

July 2012

Chinook Season to Close on Upper Salmon River

Two reaches of the upper Salmon River - the Ellis and Stanley areas - will close to Chinook salmon harvest at the end of fishing Sunday, August 5.

As previously announced, the Clearwater River main stem, the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork Clearwater and the Snake River downstream of Hells Canyon Dam also will close to Chinook salmon fishing at the end of fishing Sunday.

The South Fork Salmon River closed July 19. And the Lower Salmon River and the Little Salmon River closed July 15.

That means all spring and summer Chinook seasons will be closed after Sunday.

The 2012 fall Chinook salmon harvest season opens September 1 in the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam and the lower Clearwater River downstream of the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge in Lewiston.

For addition information about salmon fishing in Idaho, visit the Idaho Fish and Game website:, or pick up the 2012 fishing seasons and rules brochure available at all license vendors.

Ask Fish and Game: Unsold Nonresident Tags on Sale

Q. When do unsold nonresident deer and elk tags go on sale as second tags?

A. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently changed the date when unsold nonresident deer and elk tags go on sale to residents and nonresidents as second tags to August 1. It had been August 28. The tags are sold at nonresident prices.

Fall Steelhead Harvest Season Opens on Clearwater

The fall steelhead harvest season opens Wednesday, August 1, on a two-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston.

The limits on these waters are two per day and six in possession.

Rest of Clearwater and the Middle Fork, North Fork and South Fork rivers are open for catch-and-release only until October 15.

The fall steelhead harvest season opens October 15 on the main stem of the Clearwater River above the Memorial Bridge, the South Fork Clearwater River, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam, and the Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek.

Catch-and-release for steelhead also opens August 1 on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The harvest season opens September 1. The limits on these waters are three per day and nine in possession.

Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the fall season, which ends December 31. Only steelhead with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept. Any steelhead that has an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed.

For additional information please consult the 2012 fishing rules and seasons brochure, available at all license vendors, Fish and Game offices and online at:

Fall Chinook Harvest Season to Open

The 2012 fall Chinook salmon harvest season opens September 1 on the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.

The season will continue until further notice or October 31, whichever comes first.

Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin Chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam, the last of four federal dams on the lower Snake River on their way back to Idaho.

Anglers may keep only fish with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar. All salmon with an intact adipose fin must be released.

The daily limit is six adult fall Chinook, and the possession limit is 18.

There is no season limit on adult fall Chinook. There are no daily or possession limits on jacks and anglers are not required to mark jacks on their salmon permit.

Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. When the daily, possession limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing for salmon, including catch and-release.

Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon. A salmon permit used during the spring or summer season is still valid for the fall season.

The Snake River fishery will open in four sections:

  • From the Washington-Idaho border to Bridge Street bridge.
  • From Bridge Street bridge to the Oregon-Washington border.
  • From the Oregon-Washington border to the mouth of Sheep Creek.
  • From the mouth of Sheep Creek to Hells Canyon Dam.

The Clearwater River will open from its mouth to the Memorial Bridge. A map showing the boundaries is available in the 2012 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure.

Season Ends on Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon

The Clearwater River main stem, and the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork Clearwater and the Snake River downstream of Hells Canyon Dam will close to Chinook salmon fishing at the end of fishing August 5.

The South Fork Salmon River closed to fishing for Chinook salmon at the end of fishing hours Thursday, July 19. And the Lower Salmon River and the Little Salmon River closed to Chinook fishing at the end of fishing hours Sunday, July 15.

But some waters are still open to Chinook fishing, and fall Chinook season opens September 1 on the Snake River and lower Clearwater River.

Open until further notice, with a daily limit of four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults, and a possession limit of 12 fish, only six of which may be adults, are the:

  • Upper Salmon River - Ellis Area: From the posted boundary about 100 yards upstream of the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River upstream to the Highway 75 Salmon River bridge about 250 yards upstream of the mouth of the East Fork Salmon River.
  • Upper Salmon River - Stanley: From the Highway 75 Salmon River bridge about 250 yards upstream of the mouth of the East Fork Salmon River upstream to the posted boundary about 100 yards downstream of the weir and trap at Sawtooth Hatchery south of Stanley.

The statewide season limit is 20 adult salmon during any 2012 salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2012.

Salmon seasons and limits may change on short notice, please check the salmon hotline at 855-287-2702 or the online salmon seasons and limits page at:

Archery Season Opens Soon

Most controlled archery pronghorn seasons open August 15, and continue through September 15.

In addition, in many units, archery seasons on mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk open August 30 and run through September.

In the warm weather of summer, hunter should consider hunting in the higher country.

Hunters are reminded that in addition to a valid hunting license, archery permits are also required. And archers using blinds on federal public lands should contact the Bureau of Land Management for the latest policies on hunting blinds on public lands.

For more information consult the 2012 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure available at all license vendor and online at

For help with planning hunts, visit the Hunt Planner on the Idaho Fish and Game Website:

Early Elk Seasons Open This Week

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

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

Early archery hunts also start August 1 in the Snake River elk zone, and controlled green-field hunts also open in the Dworshak and Hells Canyon zones.

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 speed cooling.

When cutting up the elk carcass, hunters must be sure to preserve the evidence of sex. If the head or antlers are removed, evidence of sex in the form of testicles, penis, scrotum, udder or vulva must remain naturally attached to the carcass or parts thereof until it reaches the final place of storage or personal consumption, or a commercial meat processing facility. Antlers or horns removed from the head must be left naturally attached to the skull plate where size, point or brow-tine restrictions apply, and they must accompany the carcass or parts thereof.

F&G to Propose Sage-grouse Hunting Season

Idaho Fish and Game officials will present sage-grouse hunting season recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the August 23 meeting.

Recommendations follow the hunting season and bag-limit guidelines laid out in the state plan for sage-grouse. These guidelines compare the current three-year running average of males counted at breeding sites, known as leks, to counts from 1996 through 2000, when Idaho began intensified surveys statewide.

The guidelines also allow the flexibility to consider local issues of concern, such as insufficient data, isolated populations, or the effects of wildfire and West Nile virus.

Fish and Game recommends changes from the 2011 season that would:

  • Close all of Elmore County to sage-grouse hunting, because of insufficient data and wildfire impacts.
  • Move opening day for sage-grouse to the third Saturday in September.

    Sage-grouse lek data from 2012 show that most populations could be hunted at the "restrictive" level.

The proposed 2012 seasons are:

  • Restrictive: Seven-day, one-bird daily limit statewide within sage-grouse range, except in designated closed areas, September 15 through September 21.
  • Closed: East Idaho Uplands area in southeastern Idaho; Washington and Adams counties; eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County; and Elmore County.

Sage-grouse is a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. The state manages candidate species, and hunting is legal. Idaho Fish and Game biologists closely monitor sage-grouse populations annually.

Sign Up Now to Participate in the Idaho Wildlife Summit

The Idaho Wildlife Summit is 3 1/2 weeks away.

Anyone with an interest in wildlife should plan on attending the three-day event on August 24, 25 and 26.

For some background information and some tips on navigating the event, see the August issue of Fish and Game News online at, and in print later this week. It includes a statement from Shane Mahoney, one of the featured speakers, an example of the kind of broad-based support for wildlife conservation Fish and Game is trying to generate, and a list of places to register, information on how to participate online, and an agenda.

The Summit will convene at the Riverside Hotel in Boise and six concurrent satellite sites in Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Salmon, Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. People also may participate online.

Participation is free, but registration is required because of limited seating. To register online go to Find a location in the green box on the lower left side of the webpage. Or call the nearest Fish and Game office for help and information.

This statewide event will allow residents to participate and to interact in real time. The purpose is to involve as many people as possible in helping to set the direction for how wildlife is managed in Idaho, to find common ground, and ultimately to build a broader base of support for wildlife conservation.

Public Invited to Help Shape Management of Wildlife Areas

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comments and opinions to help chart the future of the state's 32 wildlife management areas.

The public is encouraged to attend an open house meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at the Lewiston Fish and Game office, 3316 16th Street. Participants will be able to visit with area biologists, complete a survey, and voice their opinions regarding the management of Fish and Game lands. A barbeque pork dinner will be provided.

"We invite the public to help us identify WMA management issues, so we can better evaluate management priorities and develop WMA plans that reflect those priorities," Fish and game regional habitat manager Jim White said.

The last time the Fish and Game went through this updating process was 10 years ago. During the same time period, Idaho's population has increased by 21 percent. This change has resulted in an increase of visitors to Fish and Game lands. Along with an increase in public use, there has also been an increase in the types of public use activities and the demand for additional recreational opportunities.

Concurrently, during the past decade Fish and Game has experienced a decrease in the sales of hunting and fishing licenses, especially non-resident hunting tag sales. Idaho Fish and Game does not receive general tax dollars, it is funded primarily through the sale of licenses, tags and permits and matching federal funds. This has negatively impacted budgets and the ability of Fish and Game to fund all of its budgetary needs, including maintenance, operational and capital needs on the WMAs.

Deadline to Buy Controlled Hunt Tags

Big game hunters who were drawn in controlled hunt drawings have to buy their tags by August 1.

Any other controlled hunt tags not purchased by that date will be forfeited - except for unlimited controlled hunt tags, which may be picked up anytime before the hunt begins.

The application period for the second drawing runs from August 5 to 15. The drawing will be August 20. After a second drawing, any leftover tags go on sale over the counter on August 25.

Results of deer, elk, antelope and fall black bear controlled hunt drawings are available on the Fish and Game website at:

Hunters can buy their tags at any Fish and Game office, license vendor, by telephone at 800-554-8685, or online at For information on rules and dates for specific hunts consult the regulations brochure or the Fish and Game Website.

And those lucky enough to draw can use Fish and Game's Hunt Planner at: to plan those fall hunts.

It is the responsibility of hunters to determine whether they were drawn for a controlled hunt.

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

New Rules Aid Disabled and Young Hunters

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted rules that allow a companion to assist a disabled hunter without having a tag or permit, and that allow a person to transfer a controlled hunt tag to their child or grandchild.

Legislation during the 2012 session directed the commission to develop these rules.

The disabled hunter must have a valid disabled combination license, a disabled archery permit, or a disabled hunt-from-a-motor-vehicle permit and a valid tag.

The companion must have a valid hunting license and applicable special weapon permit but does not need a tag while helping the disabled hunter dispatch, tag and retrieve wounded big game, wild turkey or sandhill crane.

The companion must accompany the disabled hunter while hunting. They are required to be within normal conversation or hearing range without shouting or the aid of electronic devices. But the companion does not need to be accompanied by the disabled hunter to dispatch, tag and retrieve a downed animal wounded by the disabled hunter.

Animals dispatched, tagged, or retrieved by a designated companion do not count against the companion's possession limit. All other applicable rules governing the taking of game animals apply.

The companion must be designated as such in a statement signed by the disabled hunter. The statement must include the disabled hunter's name, address, hunting license number, big game tag number and the dates of designation as a companion.

A proxy statement is required if a companion transports a game animal for a disabled hunter. The rules for the companion to a disabled hunter went into effect July 12.