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.
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.
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/.
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).
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. Through the Idaho Wildavore program, Fish and Game hopes to help connect an untapped but interested user group to wildlife conservation through the important role of hunting. "We hope to see workshop participants leave with the basic knowledge and experience needed to continue hunting on their own," Horsmon said. "The potential also exists for workshop participants to introduce the hunting tradition to family and friends."
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
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.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is seeking public feedback on a proposal to offer five tags for auction including one each for elk, mule deer, mountain goat, pronghorn, and moose. The following public meetings will be held where people can speak directly with local Fish and Game staff about the proposal: - Coeur d' Alene: March 3, 6 p.m. Panhandle Region Fish and Game Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. - Lewiston: March 1, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Clearwater Region Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th Street. - McCall: February 29, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., February 29, McCall Fish and Game Office, 555 Deinhard Lane. - Jerome: March 2, 6 p.m., Magic Valley Region Fish and Game Office, 324 South 417 East - Suite 1. - Pocatello: March 2, 6 p.m., Southeast Region Fish and Game Office, 1345 Barton Road. - Idaho Falls: March 1, 7 p.m., Upper Snake Region Office, Fish and Game Office, 4279 Commerce Circle. - Salmon: March 2, 6 to 8 p.m., Salmon Region Office, 99 Hwy. 93 North. - Challis: March 3, 6 to 8 p.m., Challis Community Event Center, 411 Clinic Road. Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting the regional Fish and Game office, or the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529 (TDD). People can also comment on the proposed auction tags by visiting Fish and Game's website at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement. The comment period will continue through March 4. The Idaho Legislature in 2012 gave authority for the commission to auction up to 12 "Governor's Wildlife Partnership" big-game tags, which could include three each for deer, elk and pronghorn and one each for bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat. Since that legislation passed, the commission has not offered any tags for auction except a bighorn sheep tag that it has auctioned annually since 1988.
By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist Idaho Fish and Game wants young steelhead released into the South Fork of the Clearwater River to be from parents taken from that river, so the department is asking anglers to catch local spawners to fill nearby hatcheries. Here's how it works: Anglers catch a fish, and then place the live fish into a perforated section of PVC pipe provided by Fish and Game. They return the pipe to the river and tether it, and then Fish and Game crews retrieve the fish and put it into a tanker truck that will deliver the steelhead to the hatcheries. Fish and Game will distribute the PVC pipes at popular fishing holes along the South Fork during late February and March, the most popular times for fishing the river. Steelhead donated by anglers are not counted against the angler's bag limit. The program started in 2010 in order to develop a "localized broodstock" unique to the South Fork of the Clearwater. With help from anglers, a portion of the broodstock has come directly from the South Fork, and last year a record 350 fish were collected, which produced about a million smolts for release. This year, Fish and Game is hoping anglers can provide about 600 adults, which would meet the complete brood needs at Clearwater Fish Hatchery and Dworshak National Fish Hatchery for smolts released into the South Fork Clearwater. The South Fork has no fish trap or weir, so the department is relying solely on anglers to get the spawners. "Anglers are a huge part of this," said Joe DuPont, fisheries manager for the Clearwater Region. "They are working with us for a common goal." In years past, spawners were collected at the Dworshak Hatchery trap on North Fork Clearwater River. Research has shown that steelhead are highly adaptable, and young hatchery steelhead smolts tend to survive and return as adults at a higher rate when their parents come from the exact stream where the young fish are released.
The 2016 and 2017 Upland game, Turkey and Furbearer Seasons and Rules books are back from the printer and will available at Fish and Game license venders this week. The new seasons and rules information is available online now at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/seasons/upland. The new rules brochures include changes that affect some spring turkey hunts including: - Split current spring controlled turkey Hunt 9003 (all of Unit 38 and that portion of Unit 32 in Payette County) into two separate hunts. Increased total permits by 20. - Increased permits in each of the spring controlled turkey hunts in Unit 54 to 30 permits each. - Eliminated spring controlled turkey hunts in Unit 71 and replaced with a general spring hunt and includes Unit 70 as part of the general hunt from April 15 - May 25. - Added Unit 36A to spring turkey controlled hunts 9001 and 9002, and added five permits to youth controlled hunt 9002. The application period for spring turkey controlled hunts continues through March 1. The application fee is $6.25 per person for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents. Hunters with a valid 2016 license may apply for controlled hunts at any hunting and fishing license vendor; with a credit card by calling 1-800-55HUNT5; or online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications. Upland game seasons and rules changes include: - Added Cartier Slough, Market Lake, and Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the list of WMAs where shooting hours for upland game birds begin at 10 a.m. during the pheasant season. Furbearer seasons and rules changes include: - Area closed to beaver trapping in Elmore County has been reduced. - Added a new controlled beaver trapping unit in the Southeast Region. - Modified some areas closed to beaver trapping in the Southeast and Upper Snake regions to allow beaver trapping on private lands within the closure area.
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