Press Release

September 2019

F&G stocks tiger muskies in two Southwest Region waters

A new, unique and toothy fishing opportunity awaits anglers in Southwest Idaho, as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has stocked sterile tiger muskies in Lake Lowell and Black Canyon Reservoir for the first time ever.

Fish and Game released about 1,000 8- to 12-inch tiger muskies — which are a sterile hybrid of true muskellunge (muskies) and northern pike — in Lake Lowell on Thursday, Sept. 12.

Tiger Muskie Stocking 1.jpg
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IDFG/Brian Pearson

“We’re excited to offer this unique fishing opportunity in what is such an easily accessible and popular area for Treasure Valley residents,” said Brad Compton, Southwest Regional Manager for Idaho Fish and Game. “We coordinated efforts with the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge staff on this, and they have been great to work with.”

Fish and Game stocked Black Canyon Reservoir with about 100 tiger muskies the same day.

Here are 14 reasons why you should fish during fall

For many Idahoans, feeling cool morning air and seeing hints of red and gold in the forest means it’s time to lace up the boots and grab a gun or bow for hunting season, but don’t overlook fall fishing. That cool weather means many fish are re-energized after their summer slumbers and ready to eat like bears fattening up for winter. 

man fishing in a river with Fall colors wide shot small photo
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IDFG

Fall fishing may be overshadowed by Idaho’s hunting season, but it’s not an either/or proposition. Idaho is famous for its “cast and blast” opportunities, and if you’re not a hunter, it’s also a great time to experience your favorite fishing spots when there are likely fewer people there. 

F&G monitoring low steelhead return and commission may alter season

Idaho Fish and Game's fisheries staff continue to monitor steelhead returns over Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, and the run appears to be smaller than earlier forecasted, which could prompt the Fish and Game Commission to alter the already-restricted season. 

Through Sept. 12, biologists estimate about 372 Clearwater hatchery steelhead have passed Bonneville Dam based on PIT tags. The small, electronic tags are embedded in fish and help biologists know to which river migrating steelhead are destined. On average, about 35 percent of the hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater River would have passed Bonneville Dam by Sept. 12.

Fisheries staff are now forecasting the total number of Clearwater-bound hatchery steelhead at Bonneville Dam could be as low as 1,050 fish, which is less than the broodstock needs for the Clearwater's hatcheries. The dip in the steelhead forecast is exclusive to the Clearwater, and the projected returns of hatchery steelhead returning to the Snake and Salmon rivers remain the same. 

In August, the Commission reduced the statewide bag limit to one steelhead per day, which should allow enough fish to return to hatchery traps in the Snake and Salmon rivers to meet broodstock needs in those rivers. Staff will continue to monitor steelhead returns and evaluate management actions they might propose to the Commission regarding the Clearwater steelhead season if further changes are needed. 

Fish and Game recognizes volunteers in the Magic Valley Region

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Magic Valley Region recently held a volunteer recognition dinner to honor and thank our Hunter Education instructors and Reservist volunteers. In 2018 these dedicated volunteers taught 43 hunter and bowhunter classes, and 16 field day classes to our next generation of hunters. Reservists in 2018 provided 1,174 volunteer hours that directly benefited Idaho’s fish and wildlife resources.

The “Instructor of the Year” award was presented to two individuals who have generously given their time to teach Hunter Education courses.

Howard McCuistion from Jerome, who began teaching Hunter Education in 1985, was recognized for teaching over 76 Hunter Education classes. Upon receiving his award, McCuistion noted that he has a passion for teaching our future hunters how to safely and ethically hunt.

Hunters: Buy deer tags early to avoid the last minute rush

Deer hunters have a lot to look forward to this season, but standing in a long line waiting to buy a tag should not be one of them. Fish and Game is anticipating high volumes of sales immediately before the opening day on Oct. 10. By buying tags early, hunters can avoid the last-minute rush. 

F&G Commission seeks to intervene in federal lawsuit about black bear baiting

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Sept. 4 asked a federal court to let it join a federal lawsuit regarding black bear baiting on national forest lands in Idaho and Wyoming to defend its authority to regulate hunting activities without additional federal regulations.  Filings were submitted in the United States District Court in Idaho. 

WildEarth Guardians brought the lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act and has asked the Court to order the U.S. Forest Service to close national forests to baiting for black bear hunting and consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding potential effects on grizzly bears. 

The Fish and Game Commission regulates black bear baiting through various rules and a requirement for a bait permit and black bear hunt tag. There are already long-standing, Commission-approved bait closures to protect grizzly bears in the Panhandle and the Greater Yellowstone area in Eastern Idaho. 

In the last twenty years, the only grizzly bear killed on national forest lands at a black bear bait site in Idaho was in 2007 in the Kelly Creek area of Central Idaho. The last prior verified grizzly sighting in that area had been in 1946. 

Make the call to catch poachers, (800) 632-5999

With some hunting seasons underway and more opening soon, Idaho Fish and Game asks the public to call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline if they witness a violation of wildlife laws, and program the number into the contacts in your smart phone. 

“The public plays a critical role in catching poachers stealing game and fish from Idaho citizens,” said Chris Wright, Idaho Fish and Game Assistant Chief of Enforcement. “Those who 'Make the Call' help us detect and solve cases that in many circumstances, we  wouldn't otherwise be able to."

Callers to the hotline, (800) 632-5999, can report wildlife law violations anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cash rewards are available to callers who provide information leading to the citation of suspected wildlife law violators.

Rewards are: $200 for birds, fish and general violations; $300 for most big game animals and wild turkey; $600 for trophy species such as bighorn sheep, mountain goat, grizzly, moose and caribou. In special circumstances, these amounts can be higher.

During its 35-year history, CAP has been an important link to catching poachers. Each year, CAP receives an average of 600 calls from the public, which results in an average of 150 citations issued and $20,000 paid in rewards. In 2018, CAP paid out $27,100 in rewards.

Those who report a wildlife violation are encouraged to note as complete a description as possible of people and vehicles involved, as well as report it as quickly as possible.

“The more detailed information you provide and the quicker your report it, the more likely a poacher will get caught,” Wright said. “License plate numbers are extremely useful, as well as exact location, time and a description of the suspects.”

Open house regarding potential airboat closures on Coeur d'Alene River WMA

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering airboat closures on a limited portion of the Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area.

IDFG strives to provide a variety of hunter experiences on our Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). In most of the Coeur d’Alene WMA, airboat use is possible for those seeking this type of hunting experience. Currently, however, there are no areas set aside for hunters seeking to avoid competition with airboat use. In the proposed areas, no airboat use is currently established, thereby offering a more primitive hunting experience. Providing closures in these isolated areas would help to meet the demand for and maintain a diversity of hunter experiences on the Coeur d’Alene Wildlife Management Area.

An open house to discuss the proposal with the public is scheduled for September 19, 2019 from 5 – 7 pm at the Medimont Grange Hall, 31146 S Hwy 3, Medimont, ID 83842

New Fall River fish numbers available

Fall River Shocking 2019
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John Heckel Idaho Fish and Game

The rainbow trout population in the Fall River has not been surveyed in over a decade.  Idaho Fish and Game biologist John Heckel wants to change that. Heckel recently conducted population estimates on rainbow trout in two different sections of the river.

"Our intentions are to develop long term monitoring sites in upper and lower sections of the Fall River," says Heckel.  "The upper site is upstream of all water diversions and begins near Sheep Falls and the lower site begins at Kirkham Bridge downstream of three diversions that lead to canals."  Fish and Game last conducted population estimates on the Fall River in the early 2000s, which occurred at the lower site near Kirkham Bridge. 

Comment period open for proposed rules that will go before the 2020 Legislature

Hunters, anglers, trappers and other interested people can comment on proposed Fish and Game rules published in the Idaho Administrative Rules September Bulletin.

Anyone may submit written comments regarding this proposed rulemaking. All written or emailed comments must be delivered on or before Sept. 25 to Paul Kline, Deputy Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25 Boise, ID 83707; Fax: (208) 334-4885; Email: rules@idfg.idaho.gov

Rules up for comment include:

  • Limit nonresident participation on general season big game hunts without reducing resident opportunity.
  • Reduce tag buyer congestion for highly competitive general season capped tags
  • Ban the import of live mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose and wild-origin elk.
  • Change minimum age to hunt turkey with a Hunting Passport and Designation of Locations Requiring Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Upland Game Permits.

These proposed rules, adopted by the Commission, must be approved by the 2020 Idaho Legislature to become effective.

Also posted in the September Bulletin are two notices related to Fish and Game’s Omnibus Rules and Omnibus Fee Rules. The notices inform the public about a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct.1 at 1 p.m. (MDT) at Fish and Game Headquarters Office at 600 S. Walnut St. in Boise for the public to comment about the Omnibus rules. Both notices describe issues for the public to consider for comment and also provide information about how the public may participate via teleconference. 

Fee rules

Non-fee rules

F&G Commission looks to manage nonresident hunters and seeks nonresident fee increase

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is looking at ways to manage the number and distribution of nonresident big game hunters in response to concerns about hunter crowding and congestion in some popular hunting areas. 

Fish and Game commissioners and staff heard from resident hunters while updating the department’s deer management plans, and there were consistent and repeated complaints about hunter crowding. 

While commissioners can currently regulate the number of nonresident hunters in big game controlled hunts, and in elk zones with limited numbers of tags, they cannot manage the distribution of nonresident hunters participating in general hunts.

To address resident hunters’ concerns, the Commission recently adopted a proposed rule to allow the Commission the ability to limit nonresident tags in any elk zone, or big game hunting unit for deer tags, to a number not less than 10 percent of the previous five-year average of all hunters in a unit or zone. The proposed rule must be approved by the 2020 Legislature before it could take effect. 

Commissioners also do not want to reduce services currently provided to sportsmen and women. To offset potential future revenue losses from selling fewer nonresident licenses and tags due to managing nonresident participation in certain areas, the department has proposed legislation to the Idaho Governor’s Office that would increase nonresident fees for the first time since 2009.  

Based on fiscal year 2019 license sales, nonresidents contributed 57 percent of all of Fish and Game’s license and tag revenue, so reductions in nonresident sales could reduce revenue available for fish and wildlife management.