After spending two to three years feeding in the deep waters of Lucky Peak Reservoir, kokanee are red, fat and ready for spawning.
Scores of kokanee are swimming up Mores Creek and its tributaries, providing a late summer spectacle for onlookers. The run has attracted the attention of anglers, at least some of whom are using illegal methods to try and fill their creel.
"We've got a bunch of folks free-lancing out there," Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. "People are snagging fish, netting fish and catching them with their bare hands. All of these techniques are illegal."
Just two weeks ago, conservation officer Ben Cadwallader watched as Wayde Andazola of Meridian snagged four kokanee from a Mores Creek pool. When contacted, Andazola had seven kokanee in his possession, at least six of which had hook marks consistent with snagging.
Snagging is a common violation during kokanee runs and is defined as taking or attempting to take a fish by use of a hook or lure in any manner or method other than enticing or attracting a fish to strike. All game fish, including kokanee, not hooked in the mouth or jaw must be released.
Cadwallader worked with Boise County prosecuting attorney Ian Gee and deputy prosecuting attorney Jay Rosenthal to build a strong court case, which led to the conviction of Andazola for possession of illegally-taken fish.
On Monday, August 26, Andazola stood before Boise County Magistrate Judge Roger Cockerille for sentencing. No stranger to Boise County court, Andazola was convicted of the same wildlife violation in 2009.
Here's a rundown of the most commonly overlooked rules related to kokanee fishing:
- There is no snagging season for kokanee, or any other game fish anywhere in Idaho.
- Anglers fishing Mores Creek or its tributaries may keep six trout in the aggregate, as well as six kokanee per day.
Choosing to ignore these rules can be costly. In addition to a two-year fishing license suspension, Andazola will pay more than $400 in fines and penalties, with another $900 in fines suspended. He also received a suspended jail sentence and two years probation.
Consult the current fishing rules booklet for more details regarding kokanee fishing and "know before you go." Alternatively, contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465 to speak with a customer service representative.