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 1 - 25 of 77 questions

Q: How long do bass in Southwest Idaho take to grow? What is the deal with no one keeping bass?

I am curious about a few things:
1) In southwest Idaho (Airport pond in Emmett, CJ Strike, Lake Lowell, etc) how long do small and large mouth bass take to grow? I have heard a 5lb bass is over 15 years old?
2) Why is it that everyone says to never keep bass? Does this negatively impact growth and population? Is this only in small ponds vs large reservoirs? What is the science behind this? Should people not be keeping bass to eat?


Both species of bass in most of the waters you list grow slowly. A 5 lb bass could certainly be 15 years old; however, no matter where you are talking about bass from the same year class show a range of growth rates with some growing slow, others near average, and others growing more quickly. This may be influenced by water temps, sex, feeding habits, and age at maturity. We recently estimated the ages of bass at Lake Lowell. Many bass in the 14-16 range ranged from 6-12 yrs of age.  Bass at other waters grow at a similar rate, but probably not quite as slow as Lake Lowell.  
There are several reason why people encourage others not to keep bass. One is people think it is a highly-prized sportfish and they have some interest in seeing high release rates, so they have the opportunity to catch trophy individuals. A second reason is that bass have consumption advisories throughout Idaho due to mercurcy bioaccumulation. All anglers should ensure that they are following these advisories which encourage only a certain numbers of meals per time period and to selectively harvest smaller fish. Lastly, you discuss science/biology, this is a very water specific question. We estimate harvest rates through tagging studies. We see a range of harvest rates from these studies. Most of the larger water bodies (Brownlee and CJ) have moderate harvest rates (20-35%) which have shown to be sustainable and capable of providing some trophy class fish too.  Smaller ponds and reservoirs may be over-harvested if they receive intense pressure, but not all receive intense pressure.  If you have additional questions, please call the Southwest Regional Office in Nampa.  

answered 4/18/2016


Thanks for the question,
The short answer is no.  Years ago, the Kokanee fishery in Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir (SFCR) was integral to the fishing experience in the reservoir.  In the late 90's we started to see a decline in angler catch rates.  This decline continued to worsen over the next 5-7 years to the point where, despite stocking the same number and with the same stock of Kokanee, we saw no improvement in angler catch rates.  We didn't want to give up, but we believed the predator load (Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Northen Pike Minnow) simply ovewhelmed the stocked kokanee.  So, we doubled stocking densities (at considerable costs) for 2 years and then monitored the fishery.  No luck.  They dissappeared, and the double stocking densities ocurred at considerable cost to the anglers (license dollars). At that point, we did not see the sense in spending license dollars feeding predators in SFCR, so we discontinued the program.
We have not revisited the hatchery stocking program since then, and have no reason to believe conditions have improved to where a hatchery kokanee based fishery would prosper.
We wish we could make it happen, but at this point in time, the precious hatchery kokanee are being used in fisheries known to produce kokanee fishing opportunities.
Please contact the region directly if you have additional questions or would like clarifications.  208-324-4359.

answered 4/12/2016

Q: Size of Idaho Bass

I've been spending some time fishing Silver Lake down in Boise. I have quite a few questions about it. It's rumored you guys are responsible for either actively stocking the lake or you stocked it at one point, is this true? Now that aside, there's two rumors that have really been bugging me. According to some fishermen 4-5 lbs is the "average" size of largemouth bass in this lake. They also claim 8lbs is a "quality" fish. I've yet to actually see any of these fish and I've caught plenty of 1.5 to 2 lb fish which they mentioned were four lbers. From this I can already image how they would see a four pounder as an eight pounder. Are their measurements off or are these just tall tales? Now my question is, for a northern lake here in Idaho, is this even possible? The second rumor I've heard which is there is spotted bass. To me this is just too outlandish, but could it be true?


Silver Lake is a private water. We have little to do with its management, though we have some oversight responsibility regarding fish stocking and importation. We certainly do not stock it currently (we do not stock waters inaccessible to the public) and there are no records of it being stocked by IDFG recently. However, historical stocking records are not perfectly complete, so it is possible that we may have stocked it a long time ago. Regardless, it is not a public water currently.
As for average size bass, anglers are known exaggerators. We would be more than fairly surprised that any water in Idaho possesses bass that average 4 lbs. As for 8 lbers, we occassionaly see largemouth bass in this size range in other waters that we sample, but they are exceedingly rare. Throughout my career, sampling thousands of fish with electrofishing equipment, I've only handeled two, both of which were from CJ Strike, though certain small waters in the Southwest Region have trophy potential.
As far as we know, there are no spotted bass in Idaho. If they are in Silver Lake, it would be without our knowledge and would be the results of illegal transport or introduction from other states. This is fairly unlikely as potential source waters are a long distance away.

answered 4/4/2016

Q: Game fish hatcheries in Idaho.

We are starting a rather large aquaponics project with the intention of feeding homeless and food shelters. We would like to stock some of our 950 gallon tanks with game fish such as Bass, Perch and Bluegills. We were wondering if you have a list of any game fish hatcheries here in Idaho?


There are several commercially licensed aquaculture facilities in Idaho that sell the game fish listed in your e-mail.  In Idaho, this business is regulated by the Idaho State Dept. of Agriculture and they could provide you a list of providers in your area.  To prevent transmission of diseases around the state, we would prefer you use a local source of fish.
You will need to obtain a Private Pond permit from our agency to possess game fish.  There is an application on our website under the "Fisheries" tab and "Forms."  The permit is free and good for 5-years.

answered 2/16/2016

Q: Private Pond inflow and outflow mesh size

I am thinking of applying for a Private Fishing Pond Permit. I have read in the Fishing Regulations and searched the Idaho Code 36-706 and can not find any information on the required mesh size to be used on my Inflow and Outflow. I will only be stocking with bass and crappie that I plan on taking from Dworshak reservoir (By obtaining a Live Fish Transport Permit). My outflow goes right back into Dworshak Reservoir so there is no danger of any fish species escaping the pond that aren't already in Dworshak. Can you please provide me with some information on Mesh Size?
Thank You


Greetings, thanks for your question. The mesh size requirements for fish screen is really dependent on several factors. The design of the outflow (pipe vs drain etc), the size of fish you want to screen, and the water flow through the screen make a big difference in the mesh size needed. We need more details about your potential pond design to really provide an accurate answer. At a minimum, you should expect nothing bigger than 1", but likely will need something down in the 1/4-1/2" size screen. 
I'm going to forward your question to the Regional Fish Manager in Lewiston who will be the point of contact for pond permits in your area. He will respond to you directly and can provide further guidance. 
Martin Koenig
Sportfishing Program Coordinator

answered 2/11/2016

Q: Can I use gamefish for fish bait ?

Can gamefish or parts of gamefish ( flesh, innards, heads, tails, ect. ) be used as bait to catch other fish ? I.e can I use a bass I caught for catfish bait ?


Yes, you may use game fish parts for bait (no live fish may be used except for crawfish that are caught in on the waters being fished)  Good Luck fishing

answered 2/5/2016

Q: Are crappie being removed from Lake Lowell

I haven't caught any crappie from Lake Lowell this past year. The year before I only caught 2 Crappie. Another angler told me that Fish and Game were removing the large crappie from Lake Lowell and placing them in ponds? Is this true. We need large crappie in Lake Lowell. The only other lake that produces good crappie is CJ Strike, which is a long drive from Caldwell. Lets us keep our fish.


There is absolutely zero truth to that rumor. Over the last couple of years, IDFG has been capturing, tagging, and releaseing channel catfish and largemouth bass at Lake Lowell to gain a better understanding of use and harvest rates. In addition, we also occassionally (about once every couple of years) collect a couple hundred bluegill and lesser numbers of largemouth bass to stock new ponds or drought-stricken waters that have refilled. During these efforts, we rarely sample crappie and have never removed or translocated crappie. In fact, we translocated nearly six thousand crappie to Lake Lowell during 2009 in an attempt to increase abundance. This effort did not achieve the intented result likely due to the extremely high abundance of common carp. 

answered 1/23/2016

Q: What is the reason for rasing the length limit on bass to 14" in the southeast region?

Why did Fish and Game increase the length limit on bass in the southeast region from 12" to 14"?


Thanks for asking about the bass rule change. We have been surveying the largemouth bass populations in the region for many years. Most of the largemouth bass fisheries in this region experience overabundance, which leads to stunted, very slow growing populations. Some of the 10-12 inch bass we have collected from the Franklin County reservoirs are 7 and 8 years old. Stunting in the bass population also negatively impacts the bluegill and perch fisheries. Our goal is to improve angler satisfaction by increasing the size of bluegill, perch, and bass they catch. The right bass population is key to managing bluegill and perch populations. In general, we need more, larger bass to thin out overpopulated bass, perch and bluegill. The change to 14 inches does that.
This link provides a report where we completed an experiment on Johnson Reservoir to see how more larger bass would benefit the bluegill fishery.
Smallmouth bass fisheries are very different. For example, a successful management rule for smallmouth bass on the Snake River from American Falls Dam to the Minidoka Refuge has been no size restriction on harvest coupled with a two fish limit. If you would like to discuss bass management in more detail, please call me at 208-232-4703.

answered 1/4/2016

Q: Bass in Treasureton

I was fishing on Treasureton on Tuesday and caught over 100 bass. Sizes from 3inches up to 17inches. Was it planned that these bass were planted in treasureton or were they illegally introduced? I was trying to catch some nice trout and only caught 1 cutthroat (13 inches) and a rainbow (16 inches). I did miss some other trout that were nice size.


Bass were illegally introduced into Treasureton Reservoir.
"Bucket" biologists are a serious problem in Idaho.  They not only effect some our most important fisheries, they endanger native fish in some lake and river systems.  This has a huge impact from a dollars and cents perspective.  Lost revenue to the local economy and cost anglers in lost opportunity and fishery renovation costs can be in excess of $1,000,000 (e.g. Horsethief Reservoir fishery, which is being treated in 2015, generates over $4.5 million annually in revenue).  We poison several waters each year to remove undesirable fish species and restore appropriate fish populations.  In 2015, we are renovating Horsethief Reservoir, Hagerman Wildlife Management Area and Soldiers Meadows Reservoir at a cost to anglers of almost $50,000.

answered 9/24/2015

Q: Transporting Kokanee. Can i filet Kokanee in the field for storage and transport home? I will go to deadwood for a few days at a time and can bring home 50 fish. Can they be filet out and the carcasses put in their own cooler?

I will go to Deadwood for a few days at a time and can bring home 50 fish. Sometimes it is so hot they will start to go bad in a day. Can I filet them out with skin on and keep carcasses in their own separate cooler? It is easy to determine species and quantity. I can keep filets bagged and packed much cooler than whole fish.


When it comes to transporting fish, there are some specific (but often overlooked) rules to keep in mind. Your question is very good, as it addresses a gray area when interpreting the head/tail rule for transporting fish. The intention of the rule is for the fish to remain whole while in the field or transport. We recommend you keep the fish intact (gutting is OK) to avoid any law enforcement problems. This is intended to make it clear the number, species, and lengths of fish being kept. 
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has recognised the confusion over this rules and is proposing to make changes to make it easier for anglers to process fish in the field. If you would like to comment on the proposed changes to the "heads/tail rules", you can find our online public comment survey here:
Page 53 of the current fishing regulations states the rule for transporting trout and bass:
"Head and Tail Removal: 
It is illegal to have in the field or in transit any trout, char, coho, kokanee, grayling, tiger musky, or bass from which the head or tail has been removed."
You can find the current 2013-2015 Fishing Rules at this link:
Good luck fishing at Deadwood!

answered 8/12/2015

Q: Pacific Press Pond

I'm aware you guys don't stock this pond but you guys happen to know the full list of fish & aquatic life in here? To be specific I'd like to know if there are any cray fish in here and what lures to choose?


Thanks for your question about Pacific Press Pond. The pond is primarily a bass and bluegill pond, but may have other species of sunfish like pumpkinseed. IDFG does do not know if there are any crayfish in the pond. Soft plastic baits like senkos, worms, and creatures fished with a weedless Texas rig would be a good bet.
This is a private pond owned by Pacific Press and is not managed by IDFG. Please contact Pacific Press for more information about their specific access and fishing rules. They can be reached at 208-465-2500. 

answered 8/11/2015

Q: Ester Simplot Park

What happened to the fish that were in the pond that they drained for the park construction.


After the pond was lowered, contractors for the City of Boise helped us lower an electrofishing boat into the remaining water.  We then spent a day collecting as many game fish as possible. Captured fish, mostly largemouth bass and bluegill, were then transferred into adjacent ponds.

answered 7/21/2015

Q: Clarification on bass size regulations in Lake Lowell

I would like some clarification on the Bass rules in Lake Lowell. SW Idaho regulations state "None under 12 inches" in regards to both species of bass but Lake Lowell special regulations state " none between 12 and 16 inches". My understanding is this should be taken as "None under 16 inches" as there seems to be no specific exemptions in the lowell regulations to indicate one can keep bass under 12-in. Some have said to me that Lowell's rule of "none between 12 and 16 inches" means you can keep bass under 12in.
You Might see why there is a bit of confusion. Any clarification would be helpful


Thanks for your question on Lake Lowell! 
The "General" bass rules for the Southwest Region do in fact state 6 bass per day, 12-inch minimum. However, Lake Lowell falls under the "special rule waters" which are listed separately (page 23 of the rules book). These waters have their own rules that are separate from the general rules.
Lake Lowell: January 1 – June 30, bass limit is 0, catch/release only. July 1 – December 31 – bass limit is 2, none between 12-16 inches.
This means that you can keep only 2 bass per day, and they must be either below 12” or over 16”. There is no harvest before the July 1 to December 31 period.
These rules are intended to manage for higher numbers of 12-16” bass to maintain good catch rates of medium sized bass, and still allow some harvest of smaller fish and occasional large bass, while protecting spawning bass before July 1. 
Good luck fishing!
Martin Koenig
Sportfishing Program Coordinator

answered 5/7/2015

Q: 2015 fishing status of Paddock Reservoir?

What is the fishing status of Paddock in 2015? Obviously the last few years have been bad for a variety of reasons


Unfortunately, this will be another bleak year for Paddock Reservoir. With little to no snowpack remaining in the Paddock drainage and the unusually warm and dry spring; there is no chance of the reservoir filling.  We just hope enough water will remain in the deepest part of the reservoir for a few crappie, bass and bluegill to survive.
I fished Paddock Reservoir back in the late 1980's when it produced numerous, large crappie.  The key is water.  If we can get back to consecutive years of average or above average precipitation, Paddock will again produce some of the best fishing in Idaho.

answered 5/5/2015

Q: restocking Black Canyon Reservoir

When is black canyon reservoir going to be restocked. Most of the fish in the reservoir were killed or sent down stream when the reservoir was completely drained in the winter of 2012, and what species are to be restocked.


Unfortunately, we will not re-stock Black Canyon Reservoir for at least a couple of more years. It is very likely that the reservoir will be drawdown substantially during at least two more of the coming winters. This is part of a project, led by the Bureau of Reclamation, that will add a thrid hydro-electric turbine to Black Canyon Dam. The third turbine will increase hydro-electirc gnerating capacity. After all construction has been completed, IDFG, utilizing assistance from the Bureau of the Reclamation, will re-stock the reservoir with several species of fish. At a minimum, smallmouth bass and crappie will be transferred to the reservoir .   

answered 4/29/2015

Q: clearwater river smallmouth bass

Aaround what time of year do the smallmouth bass on the clearwater river start prespawn and actual spawn?


The spawning period is typically in mid to late May but can vary ~ two weeks earlier to two weeks later.
Many things influence when fish spawn.  Water temperatures, the hydrograph, photoperiod, the availability of proper-sized substrate etc. all play a part.

answered 1/20/2015

Q: How many fish are stocked in Idaho every year?

How many fish were stocked in the entire state by Idaho Fish and Game in 2014?


In 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game was directly involved in the stocking of over 32,000,000 fish!  Fish species stocked include both native and non-native trout/salmon species (Rainbow Trout, Chinook Salmon, Lake Trout, etc.) as well as non-native cool- and warm-water species (like bass, catfish, etc.).  Interested in learning a bit more about when and where we stock fish?  Information on both current and historical fish stocking is available on the Fisheries page of our website:
Get out and FISH IDAHO!  

answered 1/12/2015

Q: Canning trout

Is it legal to can trout while fishing?


The short answer is, "no."
Centain species of game fish, which trout are defined in Idaho rule 13.01.11. , can not have the heads and tails removed while in transit.  You also must be able to show how many fish, the length and species of fish you have in possession while in the field.
Idaho Administrative Code 13.01.11.
02. Restrictions. No person shall have in the field or in transit any trout, tiger muskie, or bass from which the head or tail has been removed. (3-20-97)
03. Bag Limit. The maximum number of fish that may be lawfully taken by any one (1) person in one (1) day. The term “bag limit” shall be construed to be an individual, independent effort and shall not be interpreted in any manner as to allow one (1) individual to take more than his “bag limit” toward filling the “bag limit” of another. The bag and possession limits are equal except for salmon and steelhead. (3-20-97)
29. Possession Limit. Maximum number of fish that may be lawfully in possession of any person. “Possession limit” shall apply to fish while in the field or being transported to the final place of consumption or storage. (3-20-97)
02. Restrictions. No person shall have in the field or in transit any trout, tiger muskie, or bass from which the head or tail has been removed. (3-20-97)

answered 1/7/2015

Q: How many crawdads are in Cda lake?

I'm not looking for exact that's impossible but how healthy is the population of crawdads in Cda lake? What about CDA beach area? About what percent (from what you know) do the crawdads make up on a smallmouths diet? What kinds of fish are in CDa lake? What makes up most of a smallies diet on CDA? Thx if you don't know that's fine just anything you do would be much appreciated


We don't typically do crayfish surveys, but we can tell you that all indications are, the population is healthy and makes up a significant portion of the diet of adult bass in CDA lake during the summer.  Although we haven't opened CDA lake to the commercial harvest of crayfish, we did have one request two years ago from a commercial angler to fish the lake and he found the size of the crayfish was smaller than most restaurants desired.
Two years ago, the University of Idaho had a graduate student looking at the diet of smallmouth bass in CDA lake and in particular, the percentage of their diet that was made-up of crayfish and snails.  I haven't seen the final report but you might want to look at the University of Idaho's website to see if the results have been published.  Look under the College of Natural Resources.
I have seen work done on other bodies of water in Idaho and during the summer, crayfish can comprise upwards of 20% of the overall diet of adult largemouth bass.  In the winter, the percentage declines to virtually 0%.

answered 12/20/2014

Q: Indian Creek Reservoir

What happened to Indian Creek Reservoir? Was it a victim of drought or did water use upstream change or was there some other factor at work?


Changes in land use, new wells for urban development, the need for dam repairs and the drought all have affected the reservoir levels at Indian Creek Reservoir.
Indian Creek Reservoir is filled primarily by low elevation snowfall.  Back in the 1980's and early 90's, water used to back up past the interstate because of above average winter precipitation.  It is also a productive system from a fisheries perspective for both warm and cool water fishes.  It used to produce some of the largest bluegill in the state.  It was also know for crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish and rainbow trout.
If we ever get back into a wet cycle, we are ready to invest sportsman's dollars into dam repairs that will improve water retention in the reservoir.

answered 10/24/2014

Q: Bass fishing at American Falls reservoir

Is there good bass fishing at American Falls reservoir?


American Falls Reservoir has a healthy population of smallmouth bass.  Spring fishing is the best.  Fish rocky shorelines and use plugs, rubber worms or poppers for best results.

answered 10/4/2014

Q: Quality Bass Regulations

I understand the "quality" bass regulations for Lake Lowell. My question is do those regulations apply for bass caught out of the canal that comes out of the lower dam? I.E. the Caldwell end.


No, the quality bass rule only applies to the Lake.  The Lowline Canal is a "general rule" limit of 6 bass with a minimum length of 12"
Water will be shut-off to the Lowline Canal in just a few weeks.  There will probably be a salvage order that allows unlimited harvest of game fish, providing you have a fishing license.

answered 8/30/2014

Q: Beach's Pond Stocking

Instead of trying to stock bass, bluegill, and catfish in Beach's Pond, why not just stock catfish in Beach's and use Anderson Wetlands for bass and bluegill?


In the past, we have attempted to utilize Beach's Pond for bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.  Unfortunately, this did not work well. In small ponds, channel catfish are substantial predators. In this portion of the state, we now avoid stocking channel catfish in nearly all small ponds (less than 2 acres).  In situations where channel catfish are not harvested quickly, they have the ability to harm other fish populations such as bass and bluegill. For the time being, we do not plan to stock channel catfish in any of the Wilson Ponds.  As a side, there are plenty of outstanding catfishing opportunities in the Snake River, Lake Lowell, Brownlee Reservoir, as well as in several larger ponds around the Treasure Valley.

answered 8/30/2014

Q: Fishing while SCUBA diving...

As stated before, a diver may only take bullfrogs and crayfish by hand while diving. If I use a short fishing rod and a lure/bait, can I fish for bass while diving in Lake Pend Oreille?


Yes, you can fish using a rod, reel and lure/bait while under water.  I'm not sure what the advantage would be - but it is legal.
We often receive questions about the use of spearguns while diving, to harvest fish.  Only nongame fish can be harvested using archery equipment, spears or mechanisms that propel a sharp device to take fish.  A fishing license is required to fish using these methods.

answered 8/27/2014

Q: Catching Fish

Here's A very quick question im going fishing at coeur d' alene lake and i wanted to know can you catch as many fish as you want and do you have to release them i would be very pleased if you answered.


Bag limits for Lake Coeur d'Alene are: you can keep 6 rainbow trout (no harvest of cutthroat trout); 6 bass - any size; 25 brook trout; 2 fall Chinook that are at least 20" in length; 15 kokanee; and 25 whitefish.
These limits are independent of each other, so you could legally have 79 fish in the aggregate.

answered 7/18/2014