Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions. We post here answers to questions we're being asked frequently. If you have a question not answered here, please contact us. Urgent questions should be directed to your nearest office. Some answers change over time; please take note of the "answered" date.

Displaying 26 - 50 of 3552 questions

Q: I'm getting the wrong number dialing in to buy an Idaho hunting or fishing license

I tried to dial 1-800-824-3729 like my favorite blog recommended, but that didn't connect to buy a license.

A: 

1-800-824-3729 has been retired for a while as a place to buy licenses from us.

Idaho Fish and Game does have an 800-number for purchasing licenses, but the number above has been retired for this purpose.

 

If you'd like to call-in to buy your hunting or fishing licenses, applications, tags, or permits, then dial: 1-800-554-8685

Most all of the places you'll find this number are in older press releases or in well-meaning blogs or articles that are a little bit out-of-date. 

answered 5/16/2016

A: 

Steelhead spawn in streams from mid-April to late June. They use areas of gravel or small cobble depending on the size of the fish. Often the best spawning areas are in pool tail-outs. When a female finds a suitable place to spawn, she displaces the gravel with her body and tail, and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are deposited.

The eggs hatch in early to midsummer. The young fish live in the stream and then migrate to the ocean, usually after two years of rearing in the stream. The juvenile fish will grow rapidly after they reach the ocean. When they mature and are ready to spawn, steelhead migrate back to the place they were born. They enter the lower river drainages in the fall and winter-over to spawn the following spring, which allows a fall and spring fishing season to occur. Most wild steelhead take 4 to 6 years to mature.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Steelhead anglers fish use a variety of techniques such as plunking, bobber and jig, fly fishing, side planer, back trolling, and side drifting. Since steelhead typically are not feeding as they wait to spawn, anglers like to use a variety lures, beads, yarn and/or flies that stimulate the steelhead to bite. Sometimes steelhead are aggressive and will take about anything put in front of them, and other times it requires more finesse. Many anglers believe that using bait or scent will increase the likelihood that a steelhead will bite. Popular baits include shrimp, sand shrimp, and cured eggs, and there are about as many different types of scents that anglers use as you can imagine.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

One bighorn sheep tag in Unit 11 is offered every year. How you might acquire it alternates between a raffle and an auction. For example, one year the tag is auctioned to the highest bidder and the next year it is drawn through a raffle. This allows every hunter the chance to pursue the Unit 11 bighorn tag. The money raised through these special tags is dedicated to bighorn sheep management and disease investigations.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

In banner years for returning steelhead, Fish and Game often bring adult hatchery steelhead to the Boise River to create an additional fishing opportunity. This generally happens in mid-November, depending on the counts and timing of steelhead returning to the trap at Hells Canyon Dam.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Drawing results will be posted to the Fish and Game website in early June. All applicants will receive either a tag or a refund check by mail no later than June 10.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Hunters are asked to choose between a trophy species (moose, mountain goat, or bighorn sheep) or deer, elk, and pronghorn when applying for controlled hunt tags. This rule was implemented to improve the drawing odds for moose, mountain goat, pronghorn and bighorn sheep. However, hunters who apply and don’t draw a trophy tag can submit an application for deer, elk or pronghorn in the second application period.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Steelhead are native rainbow trout which migrate to the ocean as juvenile fish and return to fresh water as adults to spawn. In Idaho these ocean-going trout are often classified into two groups, A-run and B-run based on their size and ocean life history.

Idaho’s A-run are usually found in the Snake and Salmon rivers. They return from the ocean earlier in the year (usually June through August) and they most often return after spending one year in the ocean. Because of their early return and short stay in the ocean they usually weigh 4 to 6 pounds and are generally 23 to 26 inches in length.

B-run steelhead most often return to the Clearwater River, but some return to tributaries in the Salmon River. These fish usually spend two years in the ocean and start their migration to Idaho later in the summer or fall of the year (usually late August or September.) Because of the extra year and the extra summer of growing in the ocean, they return as much bigger fish. Average B-run steelhead weigh between 10 to 13 pounds and are 31 to 34 inches long.

Steelhead grow even larger when they spend a third year in the ocean before they return to Idaho to spawn. These steelhead are usually larger than 37 inches and can weigh more than 20 pounds.

The Idaho state record steelhead was 30 pounds and 2 ounces and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Chinook salmon are often classified into three different groupings or “runs” – spring, summer or fall based on when they enter fresh water.  Spring Chinook salmon migrating to Idaho tend to enter the Columbia River from March through May, summer Chinook Salmon enter the Columbia June through July, and fall Chinook Salmon enter August through November.

In Idaho, most spring and summer Chinook salmon spawn from late August through September.  Fall Chinook salmon tend to spawn from late October through early December.  When spawning, the female will dig a hole in the gravel to lay her eggs.  This hole is referred to as a “redd” and the female will lay anywhere from 4,000 to 15,000 eggs depending on her size.  While the female lays her eggs, a male will simultaneously fertilize them with milt.  When done spawning, the female will cover up the hole with gravel to help insure the eggs are protected from predators.  When spawning is complete, both the male and female die.

The eggs hatch in the spring and the juvenile fish will live the next year in fresh water before migrating to the ocean.  The exception is fall Chinook salmon that only live a months or two in fresh water before beginning their migration to the ocean.  Chinook salmon from Idaho tend to spend one to five years in the ocean before returning to fresh water to spawn, with two years being the most common.  Chinook salmon, like other salmon species, have the ability to find their way back to the same stream and often the exact same place to spawn that their parents spawned.

Young salmon eat both aquatic and terrestrial insects when in fresh water. They turn to a diet of fish once they reach salt water. Adults retuning to spawn do not eat once they enter fresh water; they live off their fat reserves.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

The Chinook salmon is the largest species of salmon and is native to the Pacific Ocean and rivers that flow into it.  Chinook salmon are anadromous fish, meaning they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean where they grow and mature, and then return back to fresh water to spawn.  When Chinook are in the ocean they are silvery in color with black spots on the upper half of their body.  When Chinook salmon return to spawn, they begin changing colors.  The longer they are in fresh water the more they change.  In Idaho, by the time they spawn they can range anywhere from a yellowish-olive color to greyish-black.  In states like Alaska, Chinook salmon will turn a reddish color before they spawn.  One characteristic that anglers can use to identify a Chinook salmon from other salmon species is the entire inside of their mouth is black.

The size that Chinook salmon will obtain is largely dependent on how long they spend in the ocean.  Chinook that spend one year in the ocean before returning to spawn are commonly referred to as “jacks” and average about 3-5 pounds in size.  After two years in the ocean they average around 10-15 pounds, in three years 15-22 pounds, and after four years 25-35 pounds.  The Idaho State record caught Chinook salmon weighed 54 pounds.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

Chinook anglers use a variety of techniques to catch salmon.  The most common techniques that shore anglers use includes plunking, bobber and jig, and side drifting.  Most boat anglers will back troll, plunk, and back bounce.  Since Chinook salmon are not feeding when they are in fresh water, anglers use a variety lures, beads, jigs, and yarn that stimulate them to bite.  Sometimes Chinook salmon are aggressive and will take about anything put in front of them, and other times it requires more finesse.  Many anglers believe that using bait or scent will increase the likelihood that a Chinook salmon will bite.  Popular baits include shrimp, herring, tuna, and cured fish eggs; and there are about as many different types of scents that anglers use as you can imagine.  There are many different sources of information on how to fish for salmon on websites.  You should always feel free to contact Fish and Game for tips on how to catch Chinook salmon.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

Avid anglers will follow salmon returns by checking the dam counts at Bonneville Dam (first Dam on the Columbia River). A general rule of thumb is it takes about 14 to 17 days for salmon to travel up the Columbia River to Lower Granite Dam, the last of the eight dams they must pass over to reach Idaho.  The travel time can vary based on run of Chinook salmon you are following and what flows are like.  For the most part, those fish migrating in higher flows will take longer than fish traveling in lower flows.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

Because Chinook Salmon return to so many places in the state, it’s hard to say there is a best place to fish.  Much of this has to do with an angler’s preference in how they like to fish and how far they are willing to travel. 

If you want to fish where the best catch rates occur consider fishing closer to where the fish are released.  Recognize that these locations are also the most crowded and it is not unusual to fish shoulder to shoulder in these areas.  You can learn where these release locations are by calling the Clearwater or Salmon Fish and Game offices. If you don’t like crowds, there are many places where one doesn’t have to fish right next to another person.  However, these places tend to have lower catch rates.  If one does enough searching, at times you can find good fishing with little competition from other anglers. 

Some people like to fish from boats whereas others like to fish from shore.  In general, the smaller rivers tend to provide the most shore fishing opportunities, and the larger rivers tend to provide more boat fishing opportunities.  If you like shore fishing consider the South Fork Clearwater, Little Salmon, South Fork Salmon, and upper Salmon rivers.  If you want to fish from a boat consider the Clearwater and lower Salmon rivers.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

There are three different runs of Chinook Salmon that enter Idaho, each provide fishing opportunities at different times of the year.

Spring Chinook Salmon: Hatchery spring Chinook salmon tend to start entering Idaho around the end of April or Beginning of May with the peak of the run entering Idaho around early to mid-May. These fish are destined for the Clearwater River basin, the Snake River (up to Hells Canyon Dam), the lower Salmon River and the Little Salmon River. On most years the fishing season for spring Chinook salmon opens around the end of April and may last as short as a couple weeks or as long as four months depending on the number of fish returning.

The best time to fish can vary considerably depending on where you want to fish, the timing of the run, and weather and flow conditions. The general rule of thumb is the closer you are to the Idaho-Washington border, the earlier you will want to fish. If you want to fish in the lower Clearwater and the Snake rivers, consider fishing in May. If you want to fish near the town of Riggins, late May to mid-June tends to be the best times. If in doubt, feel free to call the Clearwater Fish and Game office.

Summer Chinook Salmon: Hatchery summer Chinook salmon tend to start entering Idaho around mid to late June with the peak of the run occurring around late June to early July. These fish are destined for the South Fork Salmon River, and the upper Salmon River. On most years the fishing season for summer Chinook salmon opens around the end of June and may last as short as a couple weeks or as long as three months depending on the number of fish returning. The best time to fish can vary considerably but often the best time to fish is in July. If in doubt, feel free to call the Clearwater Fish and Game office.

Fall Chinook Salmon: Hatchery fall Chinook Salmon tend to starting enter Idaho around late August to early September with the peak of the run occurring around mid to late September. These fish are destined for the Snake River and Clearwater River. On most years the fishing season for fall Chinook Salmon opens on September 1 and ends on October 31. The best time to fish can vary considerably, but often mid-September to early October are the times when most like to fish for fall Chinook Salmon.

answered 4/29/2016

Q: controlled hunt

When putting in for a group hunt of 4 people, do we have 4 chances to draw tags, or is it just one chance for all for people?

A: 

Each application is entered into the drawing one time regardless of group size.

answered 4/27/2016

A: 

Based on comments we have received from customers over the years, we have changed our process for mailing licenses when they are purchased on-line or through a mobile device. Licenses purchased on-line are to be printed at home and licenses purchased via a mobile device now download electronically to the mobile device used to make the purchase.
If you did not print the license at the time you purchased it on-line, you will need to contact our license section at licenses@idfg.idaho.gov to request a duplicate affidavit be sent to you.

answered 4/27/2016

Q: Is it legal to feed small herd of white tail deer in Winchester Idaho on are property.

We have several Apple trees on are property and deer have bin eating them for long time we like to watch them and take pics and stuff . My ? Is can I put feeders out there and help keep them heathy wen trees arnt making apples and Cherry's and plums. Thanks Shawn w hammond

A: 

The deer do not need supplemental feed to survive.  Typically when deer are fed they concentrate in the area of feeding denuding the vegetation close by and passing disease through contact at the feeders.  Also, deer when being fed tend to keep the youngest from the feeders and frequently cause them to starve or become injured.  Supplemental feeding no matter the time of year is not something we recommend.  Is it legal?  So long as you aren't hunting off them yes.  Is it a good thing to do?  No.

answered 4/26/2016

Q: Bobcat

Why isn't there a limit on harvesting bobcat, like other game animals?

A: 

Bobcats are classified as a furbearing animal.  Furbearers include bobcat, fox, marten, mink, muskrat, beaver, otter, lynx, fisher, and badger.  Of these, lynx and fisher are fully protected with no legal harvest, and otters have a quota.  Lynx are listed as threatened and wolverine are listed as protected non game.   None of the other furbearers have quotas or limits except a few controlled hunts for beaver.  Fur trapping effort fluctuates with fur prices as much as anything.  When fur prices are up, people tend to trap more.  When they are down, people trap less.  License sale fluctuates with fur prices as well.  Bobcat harvest fluctuates with fur prices and they have gone through several cycles over the last few decades and so have bobcat populations.  Recent high harvest has declined likely a result of fur prices declining and reduced trapping pressure.  We continue to monitor annual harvest and survey trappers to identify any concerns for bobcat and other furbearer populations.

answered 4/26/2016

A: 

Hello,
The Riverstone Pond is owned by the City of Coeur d'Alene.  Unfortunately, they do not allow public fishing.  We have approached the City to let them know we are willing to stock the pond in exchange for it being opened up to fishing, but they have had concerns about doing this.  We'll continue to work with the City in the future to see if something can be arranged, but for now it is not open to fishing.
Thanks for the question.
Andy Dux
Regional Fishery Manager

answered 4/25/2016

Q: Trophy Species waiting period

My friend drew a tag for a bighorn sheep in 2014 and harvested a ram. Can he apply for a moose tag in 2016, or does he have to wait until 2017 to apply? When does the 2 year waiting period for trophy species start?

A: 

Those who draw a trophy species must wait two years before applying for a trophy hunt again. Based on the information you provided, the individual must sit out the first application period in 2015 and 2016. They may apply for a moose hunt in first application period in 2017. They may also submit an application in the second application period in 2016 if any moose tags go unfilled during the drawing.

answered 4/25/2016

Q: Moose hair request

I received a letter/request for hair from a moose I shot years ago for a study . My Question is 2-fold . Will I ever get a report on the report ?, and is this study to try and show that wolfs are not the cause for the disappearance of the moose from central Idaho ? Thank you , Bruce Chaffee .

A: 

Thanks for the questions.  Question 1) will I ever get the report?  We will make an interim and final report available online on our website when they are completed.  It takes a long time to organize the hair, send to UI lab for analysis, anlyze the data, and write a final report.  However, we are sincerely thankful for all the assistance people have provided in sending the hair to us.  We have had much greater response than anticipated which will increase our abilities to understand historical conditions of moose.
Question 2.  Is this a study to show that wolves are not the cause of moose disappearance in central Idaho?  The idea of science and research is to look at causes based on data and the scientific method, not what we think is going on based on a hunch.  We have lots of ideas of what is going on with moose but we have little research to prove anything.  This hair research will not prove anything but will give us a needed piece of the puzzle and provide us a glimpse into what micronutrient condition the moose were in when they were increasing in numbers compared to condition they were in when declining.  Catttle producers have known forever that certain micronutrients are critical in pregnancy and calf survival and health, and the ability of animals to put on weigh, avoid diseases and succumbing to parasites, and thrive.  That is why they supplement with mineral blocks.  We have little research on what micronutrient levels are necessary for health, pregancy, and calf survival in our wild ungulate populations.  We assume they are getting what they need in the wild.  However, their bodies do crave salt and minerals and when they are available, they use them. 
We have areas of Idaho where moose are declining and there are no wolves.  We have moose and elk increasing where there are wolves.   And we have moose and elk decreasing where there are wolves.  If I were to put it in human terms, if you are weak from disease or sick from an infection, you would be much easier for someone to knock off your feet and beat up right?  Same with predators taking down prey.  If a moose is weak from malnutrition, has a few parasites or diseases, it cannot defend itself as well from a wolf or predator and will become easier prey when if it was healthy it would have survived.  All that said, we believe wolves can and do have impacts in some areas on some ungulate populations.  Thanks to 100s of radio collars on elk this year we discovered that twice as many elk are killed by cougars as are killed by wolves, and as many are dying of malnutrition as are being killed by wolves.  The wolf question is important but claiming every decline is caused by wolves would be denying all the fluctuations in ungulate populations we had prior to having wolves or where we don't have wolves, and missing on the root causes of many declines.  We want to look at the entire picture including wolves but not just the impacts wolves have. 
Also, we are interested in looking at the history of minerals in vegetation and soils that resulted from the Mt. Saint Helens eruption in 1980.  We are curious to see if the influx of minerals in the ash plume may have benefited ungulate populations during the 1980s and 1990s.  We might be able to see differences in these minerals over time and within the plume areas.  We are trying to keep an open mind and put more information together.  We are assuming and history shows that there are a multiple of causes that regulate and limit populations. 
I hope that answers your questions.

answered 4/23/2016

Q: Turkey tags?

I drew a unit 38 turkey tag April 15-30 was the dates I believe, I harvested a bird on the 16th. Am I able to buy another turkey tag and go hunt in a general unit for another bird?

A: 

Yes, you can purchase one extra turkey tag for the spring general season hunt. You may purchase a second extra turkey tag for a fall general season hunt as well.

answered 4/23/2016

Q: Can I buy a resident controlled mule-deer-ONLY tag (e.g. Unit 18) AND a resident over-the-counter whitetail tag since these are different species?

I am considering putting in for a resident controlled deer hunt in Unit 18 this year, which is a Mule Deer Only controlled hunt.
Would I still be able to purchase a resident over-the-counter Whitetail tag this year, since these are different species?
The Idaho F&G Controlled Hunt regs say:
Any person whose name is drawn in a controlled hunt for
deer or elk is prohibited from hunting in any other hunt
for the same species (archery, muzzleloader or general),
except when the hunter has drawn an extra controlled
hunt tag or depredation hunt, or has purchased a leftover
nonresident general season tag for that species at the
nonresident price.
Since Whitetail and Mule Deer are separate species, would I be able to get both tags (one controlled, one over-the-counter) at resident prices? Or are you lumping Mule Deer and Whitetail deer together and treating them as a single “species”?
Thank you for your help!

A: 

You cannot purchase a resident limited deer controlled hunt tag and a resident general season deer tag in the same season. However, if you draw the limited deer controlled hunt tag in unit 18 and purchase the resident deer controlled hunt tag, the only other general season deer tag you may purchase would the Res-Nonres general season deer tag, at the nonresident price provided the quota has not been sold out. The Res-Nonres general season deer tag could be the regular deer tag or the white-tail deer tag.

answered 4/21/2016

Q: Poisoning Squirrels

Is it legal to put rat poison outside for the purpose of killing squirrels in Boise?

A: 

Rat poison is very lethal and there are restrictions and guidelines for its use.  Rat poison does not only kill rats but everything that injests it including dogs, cats, squirrels, birds that eat squirrels, raccoons, skunks, deer, songbirds, and anything else that might injest the pellets.  Your best bet for killing unwanted squirrels would be to live trap them and euthanize, then properly dispose of them.  Fox squirrels are the big reddish ones found in town and they are not protected.  However, placing rat poison anywhere that is not closely monitored and restricted will lead to unwanted mortality of protected species and neighbors pets, and that is illegal.

answered 4/20/2016

Q: Spring turkey draw

When is the draw time for spring turkey for controlled hunts?

A: 

The drawing was done several weeks ago. Look up your results at the link below. Thanks
Spring Turkey Drawing Results

answered 4/20/2016