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 426 - 450 of 3501 questions

Q: Sportsman Access Signs

Are the 'Sportsman Access' Signs for fishing areas only? Or can they also point the way to hunting areas?


Generally speaking, the brown colored Sportmen's Access signs you see driving Idaho roads highlight fishing and/or boating access sites.  Access to hunting areas on private lands are publicized in Access Yes guides available annually in September.     
answered 7/21/2015

Q: Being in the field with game cameras

Is it legal to be out in the field with game cameras. This person is currently under penalty for a game violation. Had his license suspended for 1 year as of First of Nov.


It is legal to photograph wildlife.  The term 'hunt' in Idaho does not include stalking, attracting, searching for, or lying in wait for, any wildlife by an unarmed person solely for the purpose of watching wildlife or taking pictures thereof.
answered 7/20/2015

Q: Snow Goose Conservation Season

I would like to know why the spring season ends so early? This year and years past, the birds only move into the area I hunt in good numbers the last week of season, if then. Does the framework given by the Feds allow you to extend the season longer or shift dates later?


Because snow geese are migratory game birds, the federal governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, under the authorities of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are ultimately responsible for their protection and conservation in North America. In the United States, this responsibility has largely been delegated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Pacific Flyway Council cooperates with the USFWS to develop regulations for migratory birds in the United States west of the Continental Divide. Both organizations consider the welfare of migratory bird populations first, and then public demands for recreation and subsistence harvest, and other uses. The USFWS sets migratory game bird hunting regulations by establishing the frameworks, or outside limits, for season lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting. The total length of the light (Snow and Ross’s) goose season cannot exceed 107 days. The existing framework established by the USFWS currently allows for light goose hunting until 10 March in the Pacific Flyway; therefore, the March 10 closure is the latest date allowed as per the Federal Framework.  Furthermore, the most recent (2013) Pacific Flyway Management Plan for Western Arctic Population Lesser Snow Geese states the following: “Seek an overabundant designation for WAP lesser snow geese and implementation of Conservation Order seasons in Canada and the United States, or implementation of direct control on the primary breeding colony on Banks Island if the 2013 photo inventory indicates population growth.” The 2013 Banks Island photo inventory did NOT indicate population growth. As a result, an “overabundant” designation has not been sought in the Pacific Flyway to date. However, a banding program was initiated on Banks Island during July 2015 and has been funded through 2019. Results from this work will help to better inform light goose management in the Pacific Flyway in the future.  It is important to note that snow goose seasons in the Pacific Flyway are not similar to the “Conservation" seasons in the Midwest. Snow geese in the Central and Mississippi flyways are from the Mid-continent breeding population, and have been designated as “overabundant” due to extensive damage to their arctic tundra breeding grounds. In an effort to provide hunting opportunity for snow geese in Idaho, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will continue to recommend a light goose season that closes as late as possible under the Federal Framework.  
answered 7/19/2015

Q: Bison shot by Idaho fish and game near Henry's lake

The was a report that Idaho fish and game officers shot and killed bison sleeping near the road to Henry's lake. You don't kill elk resting by the road and they are as big a hazard as a buffalo. Is this report true and if it is why were they shot and not hazed back into a more remote area?


Bison are under the jurisdiction of the Idaho Department of Agriculture.
answered 7/17/2015

Q: Did the rule change? Can a felon now hunt in Idaho with a bow?

I heard that the rules have changed and that a convicted felon can now hunt in Idaho. Is that true?


Idaho no longer restricts felons' possession of archery equipment. In general, there are fewer restrictions for weapons that do not involve explosive action. PLEASE NOTE: Individuals convicted of felonies are responsible for doing their own research to see if the law allows them to possess firearms. Laws vary among states and the federal government as to the restriction and restoration of rights for convicted felons.Also note that, in Idaho, one does need a bowhunter certification to hunt in an archery only hunt.This past legislative season, the rules defining a firearm restriction were indeed changed. As of July 1, 2015, there are now fewer restrictions on what firearms that certain felons may possess.Idaho Code Section 18-3302 defines “firearm” as “any weapon that will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.”This includes all guns using explosive force, including:rifles,shotguns,handguns,muzzleloaders and similar guns.Before July 1, 2015 there was a different and broader definition of firearm that no longer applies.  Here are links to the basic Idaho laws on this subject: Federal Restrictions: There are also federal restrictions on possession of firearms. Here’s a link to a U.S. Department of Justice summary of federal restrictions:
answered 7/16/2015

Q: Fish stocking in certain lakes in valley county

I looked at your stocking report, and I do not see that you have stocked Skein Lake or Box Lake in Valley county this year or last. What determines when you stock a certain lake? We went to Josephine Lake a few days ago and there are only minnow sized fish. Same with Loon Lake, do not see stocking going on and they are minnow sized as we discovered last week. It's hard to get excited about hiking Valley county trails when no fish are being stocked in several of the high mountain lakes. Thanks for your time.


Most mountain lakes in Idaho are stocked on a 3-year rotation unless we've documented natural reproduction at a level that could support sport fishing.  That would mean Skein and Box lakes should be on the planting schedule for this August and September when we stock these lakes from our McCall Hatchery. Recent drought conditions across Idaho have had an impact on many mountain lakes.  With less snowpack some lakes we've historically stocked have gone dry or water has been low enough freezing has killed the fish population.  Because we only visit individual mountain lakes about once every ten years, we count on anglers like yourself to provide us current information. Thank you for your comments.  They will be pass to the local fish manager at our McCall Office.
answered 7/11/2015

Q: Steelhead over Lower Granite in March

The annual surge of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam in March has me puzzled. Given that the majority of Idaho bound steelhead come over LGD in the late summer and fall, what's going on with the fish that come over in March?


Call it "Mother Nature's" fail-safe for any event that may effect survival of adult steelhead that arrive in Idaho earlier in the year.  If there is a rain-on-snow event that causes fish mortality or other natural disaster, there still will be late arriving fish to spawn and perpetuate the species. Genetics typically determine when Steelhead return to Idaho.  We have Steelhead that spend one-year in the ocean; two years or even three.  There are also Steelhead that never migrate to the ocean but still reach sexual maturity and spawn with the larger ocean-run fish.  They will actually begin their journey to Idaho as yearly as June in July, however, thermal barriers (pockets of warm water) will delay them at points in the Columbia River.  We've also had Steelhead delay entry into the Snake River until water temperatures cool from a rain event or release of cool water from one of the dams.  Steelhead continue to thrive in Idaho - despite all the "hurdles"  because they have diversity in when they return to Idaho from the ocean.  
answered 6/25/2015

Q: How often will salmon be dropped into boise river?

Salmon were dropped last thursday, will they be dropped every week?


End of June is probably the last time we will stock Chinook Salmon in the Boise River.  We only bring fish from Oxbow (mid-Snake River) or Rapid River (near Riggins) because we know these fish are of hatchery stock origin.  By early July, the body of these fish are breaking-down (they haven't eaten since they left the ocean in March and April) and they are starting to stage to begin the final phase of their life - spawning.  They don't handle the stress of transportation very well and their flesh quality is questionable. Enjoy the fish we've stocked in the Boise River and hope we have a large enough return next year of surplus fish to provide this unique fishing opportunity in the middle of Idaho's largest city.
answered 6/25/2015


Can I fish anywhere/anytime for salmon/steelhead with a tag and license if catching and releasing? Even if the season is closed/area is closed?


No.  Fishing for or targeting salmon/steelhead is prohibited unless a steelhead season is specifically opened for that water.    In other words, no salmon/steelhead fishing (including catch/release) is allowed unless there is an open season for that river location.   Steelhead rules can be found on our IDFG website, or download them here:   Salmon seasons change annually, so watch the IDFG website for information on current seasons on our salmon fishing website:  
answered 6/19/2015

Q: eating wild pacific chinook salmon

What process should be followed to ensure the chinook salmon i have caught is okay to eat? I have read that saltwater kills many parasites and bacteria but these fish are caught in a freshwater river, are there parasites and worms in chinook salmon caught in the little salmon river? Can chinooks be eaten raw such as use in sushi? If there are worms, parasites, or other harmful organisms in chinook salmon what do I do to remove there or should the fish be thrown out it they are found?


Chinook salmon caught from the Little Salmon River are generally safe to eat. IDFG recommends following the USDA and FDA guidelines for safely handling and preparing your catch to prevent foodborne illness. If you will be eating fish within 2 days of catching it, make sure to store your fish on ice. Otherwise store it in the freezer. The safest way to prepare your salmon will be to cook it thoroughly, which will kill harmful parasites if present. While parasites may be present in some fish, they are usually less common in saltwater fish. For this reason, most sushi preparations focus on saltwater species, and those that live in the open ocean (like tunas, yellow tail, mackerel, salmon) and not bottom fish (like halibut). It's always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you choose to eat raw fish anyway, one rule of thumb is to eat fish that has been previously frozen - usually as cold as possible. Try to freeze fish at temperatures of at least -14 deg F, or lower to better preserve flesh quality. Some species of fish can contain parasites, and freezing will kill any parasites that may be present. However, be aware that freezing doesn't kill all harmful microorganisms. That's why the safest route is to cook your seafood. Freshly caught salmon can be used for sushi preparations, but this is a personal judgement. Safely handling and storing your fish will be more important to preventing foodborne illness than parasites. You must understand the risks and use appropriate caution.  IDFG recommends that you review some of the food safety guidelines at these links:    
answered 6/17/2015

Q: south fork salmon river quota

Is there a salmon quota set for the south fork salmon river? and if so what is it so far?


The estimated quota for the South Fork Salmon is changing every day as more fish arrive over Bonneville and Lower Granite dams. The current estimate is that the quota will be in the range of 1,000-1,500 salmon. Much of the run is still migrating up through the lower river system, so estimating the quota with certainty can be difficult.  Fishing is not yet open on the river, so none of the quota has been harvested. Fishing opens this Friday the 19th. There have already been several hundress salmon collected at the South Fork trap, so there are already fish in the river. I would expect fishing to be good this weekend given the current conditions and numbers of fish in the river.  Good luck!
answered 6/16/2015

Q: I'm not catching any crayfish

I've seen them walking on rocks, but when I set my traps, I only catch 0-1 crawfish. I'm using 3 traps, and I've been setting them in shallow, rocky areas. I've been trying to catch a lot since mid-may this year. What bait should I use? I'm setting them in by Banbury, but I'm not sure if location has an effect on the productivity of crayfish. I need your expertise on how to catch them!


Crayfish are found in rocky areas where they have cover from predators (fish, birds, etc.).  The best baits are chicken liver, fish entrails or other waste meat.  Soak your trap along the rocky shore for several hours (over-night). What I've found to work well is a small can of cat food.  Just punch several holes in the can with a drill or a "spud bar."  Suspend the bait in the center of the trap with wire.  You can also wrap other baits in mesh material and suspend it in the trap but the crayfish are effective at pulling the bait out of the material.  Cans of tuna fish also work will but they are a little more expensive than cat food.
answered 6/14/2015

Q: Is the salmon fishing good on the little salmon/rapid river in Riggins?

Good fishing? Worth my money and time at the moment? Just curious I'm a broke college student.


As of the first week of June, salmon fishing was very good.  Anglers were averaging less than 10 hours per fish.  Over 2,100 fish have been harvested from the Little Salmon River as of 6/7.    
answered 6/7/2015

Q: 2nd salmon permit

With all the salmon we have this year I was wondering if fish and game was going to let us buy a 2nd permit for another 20 fish.


Sorry, you only get one salmon permit for the spring/summer Chinook season.  The first 20 notches are to record Chinook salmon from the Spring and Summer Chinook seasons.  The second group of 20 notches are for the Fall Chinook and Coho season.
answered 6/2/2015

Q: Expected hatchery salmon returns Pahsimeroi hatchery 2015?

What are the expected hatchery salmon returns to the Pahsimeroi this year?


Our preseason forcast for Spring Chinook returning to Pahsimeroi was just over 2,100 adults.  Incomplete PIT tag data is currently suggesting numbers may be less than our forecast - but it's still early and subject to change.
answered 6/1/2015

Q: chinook Salmon juvenile or adult

How do I tell the difference between an adult Chinook and a juvenile chinook.


Are we talking about a water with landlocked Fall Chinook or a river system that Chinook Salmon can use to reach the ocean? Anadromous (ocean-going) juvenile Chinook are typically defined as being two years of age or less.  They will be 3 - 5" in length - depending on their diet and water temperatures.  At approixmately 18 months of age they begin to smolt (body change to adapt to salt water).  They become silvery and usually begin their downstream migration to the ocean.  When they return to fresh water (1 - 3 years later) they are considered adults.  Chinook Salmon that live one year in the ocean are mostly males and will be 20 - 24" in length.  Two and three-ocean fish will be considerably larger.   Land-locked Chinook Salmon are stocked in several locations around Idaho to help manage Kokanee Salmon populations.  They are raised in a fish hatchery for their first year of life and will grow to 8 - 10".  When stocked in reservoirs they typically begin eating juvenile Kokanee and add roughly 8 - 10" of length per year.  Land-locked Fall Chinook will live 4 - 5 years in most Idaho reservoirs.  Most are unsuccessful at naturally reproducing.
answered 5/31/2015

Q: tiger musky in dog creek Res.

Is there a size limit on tiger musky in dog creek reservoir? And what is it?


Yes, there is a size limit on tiger muskie in Dog Creek Reservoir.  You can keep 2-tiger muskie that are 40" or longer in length, per day.
answered 5/26/2015

Q: loaches for catfish bait

what are the laws on using loaches (an invasive species ) alive or dead, for catfish bait?


You can use dead loach for bait when fishing for catfish, however, live crayfish are the only live bait that can be used, and they must be used on the water where they were collected.  See the following text on page 50 of the current fishing seasons and rules: "Note: Use of live fish, leeches, frongs, salamanders, waterdogs, or shrimp as bait is prohibited in Idaho, except that live crayfish may be used if caught on the body of water being fished."   You can download a copy of the fishing rule book here: Thanks!
answered 5/26/2015

Q: South fork salmon river quota

What is the quota for salmon on the south fork salmon river for 2015?


We haven't finalized the quota for the South Fork Salmon River - as of the last week in May.  The number of fish that are in excess of our brood stock needs and available to anglers (harvest quota) is not actually determined until we have data on the number of passive induced transponder (PIT) tags detected over Lower Granite Dam - the last dam before the fish enter Idaho.  PIT tagged fish destined for the South Fork Salmon River are currently below our pre-season forecast, however there are still PIT tagged South Fork fish coming over Bonneville Dam in the lower Columbia River.  At this point in time, we are going to wait until the second week in June to release our harvest quota estimates for the South Fork Salmon run. Ask this question again in two or three weeks.
answered 5/26/2015

Q: Catch and release

If you are doing catch and release fishing, do you need a fishing license in Idaho?


Yes, you need a fishing license to harass, bait, attempt to take, etc. any fish in public waters in Idaho.
answered 5/25/2015

Q: How do I look up my purchase history online?

I can't find my hunting license number that I purchased online through the website. I would like to view my purchase history.


If you access our license purchase page found at and complete a search for your information, the system will display the items you have purchased in the current license year at the bottom of the license, tag and permit selection page.The system will display your license number like:License #DescriptionPurchase Date  199-15-999999  HUNTING  03/16/2015
answered 5/8/2015

Q: How often are there openings for Fish and Game conservation officers?

I was thinking of going into the fish and game career. I was just wondering how often conservation officers jobs open or what's my chances of getting into this career around this area. Thanks Erik


The Idaho Department of Fish and Game typically posts an announcement for applicants to apply to Conservation Officer once a year. However, this can change at any time depending our department's needs. The Conservation Officer patrol areas are located in various locations throughout the state. The patrol area available to a successful applicant will depend on where the vacancy is located. For more information about becoming an Conservation Officer with IDFG please visit the following link -
answered 5/8/2015

Q: Chinook hatchery returns

Will they be updating the hatchery returns this year here on the website?


The short answer is yes.  Hatcheries are starting to trap chinook salmon and we are finalizing our website content and procedures for updating the trapping numbers. As of May 7, Rapid River had trapped 7 adipse fin clipped adult chinook salmon and Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery (on the Clearwater) had trapped 2 adipose fin clipped adults. Browse to the hatchery returns.
answered 5/8/2015

Q: Answering a question!

On March 12 a person asked about the super hunt tags, in no surprise it was talked about in circles, its all about money, not quality or Quantity of the animals it's what Idaho Fish and Game gets in their pocket. That's the whole deal. It has been brought to their attention about how to manage the herds of both deer and elk but severely refused. It would actually make Fish and Game accountable for doing their jobs. New Vehicles, and such other items as boats, campers, trailers, ie. What ever happened to the feed program we had, all of us chipped in and agreed to pay that year for feed, next thing we know is the feed never got put out, and a 80% winter kill happened because of the severe winter, where were the repercussions then, we suffered, no two deer tag season ever. Wow. really and now 80% of all our Super hunt tags are going to out of State residence who have a big pocket books. Please at least be honest to the public. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! Again I have spoke to a co worker who has approached the Idaho Fish and Game and offered advise and a plan to get us back on track and he was laughed at and refused, he was told it was a biologist deal and not enforcement deal. I digress, Again back to the question about the super tags, it's about the money, fix it and make no out of State residence eligible to draw for super tags, that is a privilege, and should just be a right because that person has money. Leave the rest of the draws open to out of State residence but at least give the residence of Idaho a chance to enjoy OUR State. If you must charge the out of State residence more to make up for the difference. I am sure they will pay.


The Super Hunt program is about generating money, specifically for the Access Yes! Program, which compensates landowners across the state to open up their private property to hunting, fish and wildlife dependent recreation. The Super Hunt is a raffle and is open to anyone wishing to participate.  People interested in participating can purchase as many opportunities as they wish.  Last year, the Super Hunt generated just under $225,000.  That money was used to open up over 840,000 acres for hunting, fishing and trapping.  Resident hunters are the primary beneficiaries. Last year, Idaho Fish and Game issued over 41,000 controlled hunt tags. 40 of those tags were Super Hunt tags. In 2013, 51% of Super Hunt tags went to residents hunters. In 2012, 62% of Super Hunt tags went to resident hunters. When the Fish and Game Commission approved the Super Hunt program, commissioners instructed staff to maximize revenue in order to maximize access to private land.
answered 5/7/2015

Q: Nonresident 2nd Tag Discount

Similar to 2014, will the nonresident elk tags be discounted to $299 for both residents and nonresidents after August 1, 2015?

answered 5/7/2015