Press Release

February 2016

Cascade produces another state record perch

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

It's no longer rumor or speculation whether Lake Cascade will break another state record; it happened Feb. 26 when Skye Coulter of Donnelly landed a 2-pound, 15.36-ounce yellow perch that topped Tia Weise's previous state record of 2 pounds, 11.68 ounces. Coulter's record fish was 15 5/8-inches long with a girth of 13-1/4 inches. He caught it on a worm.

Weise still holds the catch-and-release yellow perch record of 16-inches, which she set on Feb. 7. Because that fish was released, there was no official weight.

Cascade has consistently produced trophy perch in the last two years. Before 2014, the state record had stood for 38 years, but it has been topped at least four times in the last two years by perch caught in the reservoir.

Lake Cascade has been a success story for perch fishing and anglers since it was overhauled in the early 2000s. Fish and Game crews removed tons of unwanted fish, mostly northern pikeminnows, and transplanted 850,000 adult perch. Those transplants sparked a perch revival that produced billions of young perch, which not only recovered the perch population, but also provided a flourishing food base for other game fish in the reservoir.

Fish and Game surveyed Lake Cascade in the fall of 2015 and found about 27 percent of the perch were over 12 inches long, and 8 percent were over 14 inches long. With that many large perch, biologists suspected a new state record was living there.

It will be interesting to see how long Coulter's record stands considering the four fish caught in the last two years that topped the 38-year record fish were landed in the months of February and March.

Steelhead and salmon are Idaho's heavyweights

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

Want to catch big fish? Of course you do, and if you want to consistently catch them, steelhead and salmon are your best bets. Let's look at the tape, scale and ticker.

The average Idaho rainbow trout is around 10-14 inches and weighs about a pound. A trophy- size rainbow is about 20 inches and weighs in the 4-pound range. A 30-inch rainbow is probably a once-per-lifetime fish that weighs in the 10 to 15-pound range, although several northern Idaho lakes consistently grow trout that large and larger.

Now let's look at steelhead. Steelhead are rainbow trout that leave Idaho in the spring as juveniles known as "smolts" and migrate to the ocean, then spend about a year or two there before returning as adults much larger than trout.

The average-sized "A" run steelhead is between 23 and 26 inches and weighs 4 to 6 pounds. "A" run steelhead are most common in the Snake and Salmon rivers. Their larger cousins, the "B" run steelhead, are found mostly in the Clearwater River system, although some are also in the Salmon and Snake rivers. The fish have a different life history. "B" run fish spend two or three years in the ocean and return much larger, typically 31 to 34 inches and 10 to 13 pounds, but some are upwards of 20 pounds.

Big fish, big numbers

Over the last five years, an average of about 141,000 steelhead have returned to Idaho annually.

Adult steelhead start returning to Idaho in late summer and "winter over" in rivers before making their push to the upper tributaries to spawn in late winter and early spring. That gives anglers roughly seven months to fish for them, and the most popular times are during October and March.

Spring bear controlled hunt results available

The draw for controlled hunts for spring black bear has been completed. Hunters who applied can determine if they were drawn at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/controlledHunts/results/, or by going to Drawing Results under the Licensing tab.

Fish and Game has mailed notification cards to those who were successful in the draw. However, it is the responsibility of hunters to find out whether their names were drawn in these hunts.

Hunters who have a general season bear tag, may exchange their general season bear tag for the controlled hunt tag. Or they may keep their general season bear tag and purchase a controlled hunt bear tag. Any exchanges of tags must be completed at an Idaho Fish and Game office.

To prevent mistaken identity, bear hunters must learn to accurately identify black bears and distinguish them from grizzly bears in the wild, often in poor light conditions and possibly from long distances. A bear identification training program is available on the Idaho Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/education/bearIdentification/.

Commission to meet in Boise next week

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet in Boise on March 9 and 10.

A public hearing will be held Wednesday, March 9 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Washington Group - Main Auditorium at 720 East Park Blvd. 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 next day.

The commission will meet Thursday, March 10 at 8 a.m. in the Trophy Room at Fish and Game Headquarters at 600 South Walnut. Commissioners will set seasons for spring Chinook salmon and make a decision on big-game tags for auction. Routine agenda topics include a legislative update and briefings on migratory game birds and nonbiological rules for all game animals.

A complete agenda will be available on Fish and Game's website 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).

Wild Turkey Hunting Wildavore Workshop Slated in Star

First-time hunters with a desire to learn more about hunting the elusive wild turkey and possibly participate in an actual wild turkey hunt are invited to take part in an upcoming workshop tailored to give them the skills necessary to pursue and bag the wily birds.

The two-session Wild Turkey Wildavore Workshop - hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the National Wild Turkey Federation - will be held Thursday, March 24 from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday, March 26 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Workshop participants may also choose to attend a wild turkey observation field trip from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. on the March 26.

The workshop will be held in the Star, Idaho area and enrollment is limited. Workshop fees are $15/person, which includes refreshments.

For more information or to register for the wild turkey Wildavore workshop, contact Fish and Game wildlife technician Liz Horsmon at 208-236-1267 or by email at Elizabeth.Horsmon@idfg.idaho.gov.

"The workshop will cover all aspects of turkey hunting, with a strong emphasis on turkey calls, decoy use and other field tactics," Fish and Game conservation officer and workshop instructor Rob Brazie noted. "First-time turkey hunters will gain a great deal of turkey hunting knowledge in a short time frame."

Workshop attendees are encouraged to apply for a unit 38 spring wild turkey controlled hunt tag, the application period for which ends March 1. Workshop participants lucky enough to draw a unit 38 turkey tag will be eligible for a mentored turkey hunt later this spring.

Rainbow Trout Stocking Schedule for Southwest Idaho

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing almost 16,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during March.

Location Week Stocked Number of Trout

Boise River - above Glenwood Bridge March 7 1,440

Boise River - below Glenwood Bridge March 7 1,440

Caldwell Pond #2 February 29 500

Crane Falls Reservoir (Bruneau) March 28 1,200

Duff Lane Pond (Middleton) February 29 225

Eagle Island Park Pond March 7 450

Ed's Pond (Emmett) March 14 200

Indian Creek (Caldwell) March 21 250

Indian Creek (Kuna) March 21 300

Kleiner Pond (Meridian) March 7 900

Marsing Pond February 29 450

Mill Pond (Horseshoe Bend) March 14 450

McDevitt Pond (Boise) March 7, 21 450/450

Merrill Pond (Eagle) March 21 250

Parkcenter Pond (Boise) March 14 900

Payette River Pond March 14 450

Riverside Pond (Boise) March 7, 21 360/360

Rotary Pond (Caldwell) February 29 500

Sawyers Ponds (Emmett) March 14 900

Sego Prairie Pond at Nicholson Park (Kuna) March 21 225

Settlers Pond (Meridian) March 7, 21 125/125

Weiser Community Pond March 14 500

Williams Pond (Boise) March 14 450

Wilson Springs (Nampa) February 29, March 14 250/250

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) February 29, March 7, 14, 21 400/400/400/400

The number of trout actually released may be altered by weather, water conditions, equipment problems or schedule changes. If delays occur, trout will be stocked when conditions become favorable.

Public input sought for proposed Black Lake Ranch/St. Maries parcels land exchange

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) will hold four scoping meetings to gather public input regarding a proposed land exchange of four parcels comprising of 1,402.04 acres of mostly forested land in Benewah County, Idaho, (St Maries parcels), to be traded for 1,012.72 acres fronting the Coeur d'Alene River and Black Lake located in Kootenai County, Idaho (Black Lake Ranch).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program, in partnership with the IDFG, have prepared a draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment (EA) of the St. Maries parcels/Black Lake Ranch exchange.

The draft EA is available for review on Idaho Fish and Game's website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/panhandle-2016-land-exchange

Comments regarding the proposed exchange and draft EA may be emailed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at r1fa_grants@fws.gov. Comments will be accepted through March 28, 2016.

Idaho Fish and Game will conduct four scoping meetings to provide information and obtain feedback as follows:

  • Coeur d' Alene: March 10, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Panhandle Office, Roosevelt Room, located at 2885 W. Kathleen Avenue.
  • Medimont: March 16, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Medimont Grange located near mile marker 106 off of Hwy 3.
  • St. Maries: March 17 and March 24, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., St. Maries Fire Station located at 308 W Jefferson Avenue.

For more information, contact Kathy Cousins, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Panhandle Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Avenue, Coeur d'Alene 83815 or call (208) 769-1414.

Public's Help Sought in Elk Poaching Case

Fish and Game is asking the public for information regarding the recent poaching of a bull elk just east of State Highway 21 along the Spring Shores Road north of Boise. The poaching incident occurred in late January or early February.

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information in the case and callers can remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 twenty four hours a day.

Responding to the initial report, Fish and Game conservation officer Ben Cadwallader found the badly decomposed bull elk on a ridge top at the head of Mack's Creek near Arrowrock Dam. The bull had been shot through both shoulders and there was no evidence that the poacher(s) attempted to salvage any of the meat; only the antlers were taken. There is no open hunting season for elk anywhere in Idaho during this time of year.

Evidence was collected at the scene, but Cadwallader hopes to learn more about the case from an eyewitness or others who have knowledge of the poaching incident. "I am very interested in visiting with anyone who has information regarding this poached elk," Cadwallader stated.

In addition to the CAP hotline, persons with information regarding this case may also contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465 weekdays and Idaho State Police at 208-846-7550 on weekends.

Moose In Town

By Lauren Lane, Senior Conservation Officer, Upper Snake Region

The Upper Snake Region is home to a healthy number of moose, and many residents have been lucky enough to spot one in their travels. It is not uncommon for moose sightings to increase during the winter months. This is largely due to the fact that moose spend their winters at lower elevations and closer to residential areas, where snow depths are lower, and food is more accessible.

The Egin-Hamer desert near St. Anthony hosts one of the largest wintering herds of moose in North America. Over 400 moose winter throughout the desert. As a result, a few end up wandering into residential areas throughout St. Anthony, Ashton, Rexburg, and Idaho Falls.

When the Idaho Department of Fish of Game receives a call about moose in residential areas, a responding officer or biologist may ask how long the moose has been in the area, where it has been spending most of its time, and other related questions. Often moose that wander into town are gone within a day or two on their own, although a few moose decide to stick around for a little longer.

Moose that are spending too much time in residential areas or a dangerous location will likely be monitored and hazed by Fish and Game employees in an attempt to move them towards more suitable habitat. Hazing efforts include using loud noises to scare moose towards a certain direction and nonlethal rubber bullets. Once a moose has decided to stay in a specific area, it is important to begin hazing efforts as soon as possible before the moose feels too comfortable. Landowners and residents should maintain a safe distance from any moose nearby, but are encouraged to make loud noises if possible, and notify the department or a local law enforcement.

Volunteers needed to plant for wildlife

Idaho Fish and Game is looking for volunteers to plant thousands of sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings during March and April at several locations across southern Idaho.

These efforts are to help restore habitat that has been impacted by wildfires over the past several years.

In the Boise-area, planting projects begin on Saturday, March 12. Subsequent planting efforts will be conducted on March 19 and April 2, with transportation and planting tools provided.

Planting locations include areas burned in the Soda Fire south of Boise, Boise River Wildlife Management Area, and the Squaw Butte-area near Emmett that burned during the Hwy 52 Fire.

For more information regarding planting projects in southwest Idaho or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Fish and Game, contact Michael Young or Karie Pappani at 208-327-7095 or e-mail michael.young@idfg.idaho.gov or karie.pappani@idfg.idaho.gov.

In south central Idaho, planting dates are Saturdays March 5 and 12; and if needed Saturday, March 19. Planting locations include areas near Bliss, King Hill, and northeast of Richfield.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the planting sites at 9 a.m. Planting tools and materials will be provided.

For more information regarding these planting projects or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Eric Freeman or TanaRae Alberti at 208-324-4359 or e-mail eric.freeman@idfg.idaho.gov or tanarae.alberti@idfg.idaho.gov.

Winchester Lake Dam maintenance may affect water levels

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be conducting maintenance on Winchester Lake Dam, which may affect water levels on Winchester Lake during the 2016 spring and/or summer. This maintenance is necessary to repair a leak within the dam; however, there is no eminent danger to the structure of the dam.

For this reason, the water level of the lake will be kept at or below the base of the spillway until the leak is fixed. This is about three feet lower than normal water levels of prior years. Fish and Game must lower the reservoir an additional five feet sometime this spring to assess the significance of the leak and determine what it will take to repair it. This lower level may cause fishing docks and the boat ramp to be out of the water.

The severity of the leak and the extent of action needed to repair the dam will determine water levels for the remainder of the 2016 season. Fish and Game is hopeful that investigations and repair will occur in a timeframe that allows for capture of any remaining runoff to refill the reservoir as much as possible for the 2016 season.

However, if extensive damage to the Dam is found, it may require additional time for Fish and Game to secure funding for repair work. If the repair is delayed, water levels will remain below the spillway level and may drop through the summer depending on inflow.

Fish and Game and Winchester Lake State Park realize this may cause some hardships for users of Winchester Lake, but the safety of Winchester Lake Dam is of paramount importance and these repairs are necessary to keep this popular fishing area viable for years to come.

For more information, contact:

Joe DuPont - Clearwater Region Fishery Manager, IDFG

(208) 799-5010

joe.dupont@idfg.idaho.gov

or

Steve Kuskie - Asst. Manager, Winchester Lake State Park, IDPR

(208) 924-7563

Bluebirds Arriving in Idaho, Next Boxes Available from Fish and Game

Two species of bluebirds live in Idaho, the western bluebird and the mountain bluebird. Mountain bluebirds are larger and more brilliantly colored than western bluebirds. Both are beautiful, and are slightly smaller in size than robins. The mountain bluebird is the official Idaho State Bird.

Naturalist and author Henry David Thoreau wrote, "The bluebird carries the sky on his back". This statement could apply to any of the N. American bluebird species. The males of each species sport brilliantly colored blue backs. The male mountain bluebird has a very bright blue back and is pale blue below. The female is mostly gray with a trace of blue on the wings and tail. The western bluebird is just slightly less brightly colored. Males and females of both species have some rust color on the breast.

Bluebirds live throughout Idaho in high desert juniper and mahogany, in forest meadows, and in both valleys and on ridges in more mountainous regions of the state. They are most common at elevations of 4,000 feet and higher.

Bluebirds are ground feeders, with grasshoppers being a favorite food. They also consume beetles, ants, wasps, caterpillars, crickets and even some berries.

The bluebird's bill is not suited for creating nest cavities, so they make their nests in existing cavities excavated by woodpeckers or other animals. Nests are lined with grass, fine strips of bark and pine needles.

Bluebirds return to Idaho from their wintering grounds in the southwestern U.S. by late February or early March. Upon returning, they seek tree cavities for nesting. Since many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood, cleared to make way for development or have been occupied by non-native starlings or house sparrows, some bluebirds do not nest because they do not find suitable nesting sites.