Press Release

December 2015

Fishing season and rule books available soon

Idaho's fishing seasons and rules books for 2016-2018 have been sent to the printer and are expected to be available at license vendors this week.

Meanwhile the rules are available online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

The new fishing rules will be in effect for three years, beginning January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018.

Statewide changes include a new possession limit, which will be three times the daily bag limit after the second day of the season. Currently, the possession limit is equal to the bag limit.

Free Fishing Day will be on June 11, 2016; June 10, 2017 and June 9, 2018. These dates are the Saturday after the first full week in June and correspond with national outdoor recognition events.

Other changes to rules will apply to specific bodies of water these changes include:

Panhandle Region

- Lake Pend Oreille - The Rainbow Trout daily bag limit will be reduced from 6 to 2; only 1 over 20 inches.

- Clark Fork River - Trout limit is 0 from December 1 - Friday before Memorial Day weekend. Removed the 6 Kokanee bag limit, which reverts it to the regional bag limit of 15 Kokanee.

- Clark Fork River tributaries and Pack River and tributaries - No bait will be allowed during the existing catch-and-release season which is December 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

- Spirit Lake - The Kokanee daily bag limit will be raised from 15 to 25 fish.

- Hayden Lake - Minimum length on largemouth bass that can be harvested will increase from 16 inches to 20 inches.

Clearwater Region

- Mann Lake - Daily bag limit on bass will change from general (6) to 2 bass; none under 16 inches.

- Deyo Reservoir- Daily bag limit on bass will change from general (6) to 2 bass; none under 16 inches.

Commission to meet in Boise in January

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet by conference call Thursday, January 21 to set the 2016 and 2017 upland game, turkey and furbearer seasons.

The call will begin at 9 a.m. at Fish and Game Headquarters, 600 S. Walnut in Boise. There will be no public testimony taken during the call, but the public is welcome to attend.

The commission will then hold their annual meeting January 27-28 at Fish and Game Headquarters. The public hearing will begin at 7 pm, January 27 in the Headquarters trophy room. Citizens are invited to address the commission regarding agenda and non-agenda items at the hearing. All testimony will be taken into consideration when the commission makes decisions on agenda items at the meeting.

The commission meeting will begin at 8 am, January 28. Routine agenda items include a JFAC budget preview; legislative update, big game briefing, and appointment of Winter Feeding Advisory Committee members.

A complete agenda will be available on Fish and Game's website the week prior to the meeting at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/?getPage=184.

Individuals may request accommodations by contacting the Director's office at 208-334-5159 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD).

Hunters reminded to report on deer, elk, and pronghorn tags

With most of the major big game hunting seasons over for the year, Idaho Fish and Game reminds hunters who purchased a 2015 deer, elk, or pronghorn tag to report the results of their big game hunts as soon as possible.

Reporting is required either 10 days after a deer, elk or pronghorn is harvested, or ten days following the end of the season for which a tag is valid. Hunters are required to file a report for each tag they purchased whether they went hunting or not.

Hunters can file their reports online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/?getPage=106 or call 1-877-268-9365 and speak to a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To file reports, hunters need to know their tag numbers or hunting license numbers, the number of days they hunted, the game management units they hunted in, the date they harvested, and the number of antler points on the animal they harvested, or the length of the horns for pronghorns in inches.

Promptly received hunting and harvest data provides Fish and Game a more complete picture of game populations to base decisions for next year's season. Without this timely information, managers are forced to be more conservative when making future hunting opportunities available. In addition, hunters like having harvest estimates well before the application period for fall controlled hunts. If Fish and Game receives hunter reports early, wildlife managers are able to complete the harvest estimates sooner so hunters can plan their hunting trips next fall.

Holiday video available on Fish and Game's website

Idaho Fish and Game wishes you a holiday season of peace, joy and the gift of fish.

A new 2-minute video, Oh, What Fun it is to Fish is available on Fish and Game's website at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Set to holiday music, the video shows photographs that Idaho anglers have uploaded to Fish and Game's website photo gallery. Ranging from bluegill to steelhead, and carp to trout, the video shows anglers from across the state showing off their catch. Our wish to you this new year it that everyone catches lots of fish.

Ask Fish and Game: Wolf hunting tags vs trapping tags

Q. I bought a 2015 wolf hunting tag, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet. Are wolf hunting tags like the wolf trapping tags, which are valid for the entire season that lasts into 2016?

A. No. Wolf hunting tags for 2015 are valid only for a single calendar year and expire on December 31, 2015. To hunt wolves in Idaho in 2016, a person must have a valid 2016 Idaho hunting license and a 2016 wolf hunting tag.

However, wolf trapping tags are valid for the entire wolf trapping season, which spans October 10 - March 31 in most units. A person can also hunt wolves in 2016 with their 2015/2016 trapping tags provided that they have a 2016 hunting license and that the 2016 hunting and trapping season are open at the same time or overlap. Trapping licenses are valid from July 1 through June 30.

For more information on Idaho's wolf hunting and trapping seasons and requirements, see pages 76-81 of the 2015 & 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules booklet available at license vendors and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/.

Egin-Hamer closure goes into effect January 1

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

This year special emphasis is being placed on keeping vehicles from accessing that portion of the Red Road within the closure. Vehicle found beyond barriers will receive citations.

The Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry for the protection of wintering deer, elk, and moose herds. The closure begins on January first and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30, north of it. Once again, signs marking the area north of the Egin-Hamer road are fluorescent orange, while signs for the earlier opening southern portion are lime green colored.

The arrangement for the closure was agreed upon when county commissioners approached the Bureau of Land Management (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 Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) and the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) also have land involved in the closure and play an active role in the management.

Individual landowners accessing their own private lands are 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. County officials earlier this year explored the possibilities of modifying the closure area, but did not pursue plans once they learned of the cost and process involved.

Opportunities ahead to have big game trophies measured in northern Idaho

The major big game hunting seasons in northern Idaho are over with the exception of some late archery deer hunts. Harvest figures will not be available until February after the mandatory hunter reports are compiled. Hunters are asked to complete reports as soon as possible so that the season summaries can be completed quickly and efficiently.

Stories are circulating about a few big trophies that were taken during the fall hunting seasons, and the hunters who took them are excited to have their trophies officially measured.

To be officially measured under the Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young (archery only), or Longhunter Society (muzzleloader) scoring systems; all antlers, horns and skulls must first dry at room temperature for a minimum of 60 days. They can be stored in a freezer short term but must be allowed to air dry at room temperature for at least 60 days before being officially scored.

A number of local conservation organizations schedule gun and horn shows more than 60 days after most hunting seasons close so that official measuring can be done by certified measurers.

The Kootenai Valley Sportsman Association has a gun and horn show scheduled for February 5-7 at the Boundary County Fairgrounds in Bonners Ferry. The club encourages hunters to take their best antlers off the wall and enter them in the show.

Vendors will display and sell, buy, or trade items. There will be a raffle to win a rifle. The Boundary County show begins Friday, Feb. 5 and runs from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., continues on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and finishes Sunday, Feb. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Bonner County Sportsmen's Association (BCSA) will hold their gun and horn show at the Bonner County Fairgrounds near Sandpoint March 4-6.

Winter is the busiest time for big-game management

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

With big-game seasons winding down, it might seem like a time for big-game managers to take a break, but the opposite occurs. They're taking inventory of the state's deer and elk herds, figuring out how they are faring and trending, and using a variety of methods to do it.

Winter is a tricky time of year for managing wildlife because what happens now affects next fall's hunting seasons, and what happens is often difficult to predict without intensive monitoring.

Fall hunting seasons removed tens of thousands of deer and elk from the herds. The animals are heading into their most vulnerable time of year when winter kill, predators and bad luck can take an additional toll. It's also the season when deer, elk and other big game are most visible, so it's a good time to figure out how many are out there.

Fish and Game crews will spend December and January counting, trapping, monitoring and tabulating individual animals, local and regional herds and statewide populations and decide if any changes are needed to the current regulations. Although Fish and Game went to a two-year cycle for setting hunting seasons and regulations, the commission can change them in response to winter die-offs or other things that affect populations.

"We're doing every bit as much, if not more, population monitoring than we used to do," state game manager Jon Rachael said.

Population monitoring is done in many ways. Big-game hunters help by filling out hunting reports on the internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Fish and Game crews will be out in aircraft doing aerial surveys during winter. While these may seem self-explanatory, crews do two basic types of surveys: "sightability" surveys and "herd composition" surveys.

Winter fishing for the holidays and beyond

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

Just in time for Christmas - no, it's not a present, or even a stocking stuffer, but it may be better than Aunt Jennie's fruitcake. These are places to go fishing during the holidays.

Idaho Fish and Game's regional fish managers have provided some suggestions for winter fishing. These spots may be your favorite fishing holes, places you never heard about, overlooked, or just never got around to trying during winter.

Some spots listed are geared toward ice fishing, but not all. Ice fishing in much of the state was stalled in early December due to warm, wet weather, but ice fishing will hopefully resume when cold temperatures return.

To get more information about each of these places listed below, including maps, go to the Fishing Planner on Idaho Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. Direct link: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/fishingPlanner/.

Andy Dux - Panhandle Region

Fish and Game seeks input on upland, turkey, furbearer and falconry seasons

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the 2016 and 2017 upland game, turkey, furbearer, and falconry seasons.

Some ideas that will be considered include:

  • Extending the fall general turkey season to December 31 in Units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA), 3, 4, 4A and 6.
  • Restructuring fall controlled turkey Hunt No. 9018 (all of Units 22, 32, 32A; 125 permits) and Hunt No. 9019 (all of Unit 31; 20 permits). Combine Units 22 and 31 and maintain hunt in Units 32 (except that portion in Payette County) and 32A.
  • Adding a new youth-only fall controlled turkey hunt in Units 22 and 31 with 20 permits.
  • Creating a new fall controlled turkey hunt in all of Unit 38 and that portion of Unit 32 in Payette County (Hunt Area 38-2) with 40 permits.
  • Splitting current spring controlled turkey Hunt No. 9003 (all of Unit 38 and that portion of Unit 32 in Payette County) into two separate hunts.
  • Increasing turkey permits in each of the spring controlled hunts in Unit 54.
  • Expanding the existing youth-only spring controlled turkey hunt in Unit 71 to include all of Units 70 and 71.
  • Eliminating existing fall controlled turkey hunts in Units 71, 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78 and replace with a general season running September 15 through October 31.
  • Adding Cartier Slough, Market Lake, and Mud Lake WMAs to the list of WMAs where shooting hours for upland game birds start at 10 a.m. during the pheasant season.
  • A change to a beaver trapping quota in the Southeast Region; and changes to areas open or closed to beaver trapping in the Magic Valley, Southeast and Upper Snake regions.

Interested hunters and trappers are encouraged to attend an upcoming open house meeting or visit their nearest Fish and Game regional office.

Hunting, fishing seasons continue through holidays

There's still time to bag that Christmas game bird, goose, or maybe a nice solstice-season steelhead. For hunters and anglers itching to get out in the field or to wet a line during the holiday season, several opportunities are available.

Pheasant seasons in Areas 1 and 3 are open through December 31. Forest grouse seasons are open through January 31 in north Idaho's Area 1 and through December 31 in the rest of the state. Seasons for bobwhite and California quail in Area 1 are open through January 31, and chukar and gray partridge seasons are open statewide through January 31 as well. In addition, turkey hunters can hunt either sex through December 31 on private lands-only in much of the Clearwater region.

For upland game hunters, the cottontail season is open through February 28, and snowshoe hare season through March 31. There is no season on pygmy rabbits.

It's also not too late to bag that Christmas goose, with Idaho waterfowl seasons open through the holidays into January. In parts of southern Idaho, the white-fronted goose season extends into February and light goose (Snow and Ross' geese) season extends into March.

The daily goose bag limit is four Canada geese; 10 white-fronted geese; and 20 for light geese. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

The statewide daily bag limit is seven ducks; but not more than two female mallard, three scaup, two redhead, two pintail, and two canvasback.

Waterfowl hunters must have a valid Idaho hunting license, a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation, and a federal duck stamp. The duck stamp is valid through the end of June.

Super Hunt entry makes great last minute gift

Looking for that last minute gift idea? Buy your favorite hunter a chance to win the hunt of a lifetime through Idaho's Super Hunt drawings.

The Super Hunt is a fund-raising drawing for 34 big game tags, handed out to winners in two drawings. Entries are drawn for elk, deer, and pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose with a tag for that species, including general and controlled hunts. Super Hunt tags are in addition to other tags.

Super Hunt entries are $6 each and Super Hunt Combo entries are $20 each. There is no limit on the number of tickets a person can purchase, and no license is needed.

Tickets can be purchased in the hunters name at any Fish and Game license vendor, by phone at 1-800-554-8685, by order form or on-line at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/superhunt.

The first drawing is in June when entries are drawn 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 four species - one elk, deer, pronghorn and moose.

The second drawing is in August with two winners for elk, two for deer, two for pronghorn and one for a moose along with another Super Hunt Combo.

Money from the sale of Super Hunt entries supports Access Yes!, a program designed to improve sportsmen's access to private land or through private land to public land by compensating willing landowners who provide access.

For more information, including frequently asked questions and photos of previous winners, visit the Super Hunt page on Fish and Game's website at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/superhunt.