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 658 questions


Price Lock is a win-win for you and Idaho Fish and Game. You are keeping your costs to fish, hunt and trap among the lowest in the West, and you are providing consistent funding for wildlife conservation, management and enforcement. In short, with Price Lock you are investing in Idaho’s fish and wildlife – making sure it is there next time you go hunting and fishing.

answered 6/23/2017


The Access/Depredation Fee is separate. This fee was enacted by the State Legislature to increase funds available to reimburse landowners for damage caused by wildlife to their crops and property.  The access portion of the fee will go to improve hunting and fishing access.  Learn more about this fee on the Access/Depredation page

answered 6/22/2017

Q: Is it legal to remove sturgeon from the water when ice fishing?

Is it legal to take sturgeon out of the water when fishing a private pond?


When fishing on PUBLIC waters, sturgeon must not be removed from the water, even when ice fishing.

But, owners of legally permitted private ponds can set their own rules on limits and allowable fish-handling.  That means public fishing rules do not apply to private waters that may contain sturgeon. 

Sturgeon lack a rigid skeleton and removing them from the water can damage their internal organs. Sturgeon live a very long time, so Idaho fishing rules are set up to minimize fishing-related injury to these unique fish.

answered 1/27/2017


Adult steelhead start swimming into Idaho waters each July. Beginning in July and for the next 10 months anglers pursue steelhead as they migrate up the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers. Steelhead fishing winds down in May as the fish reach their spawning grounds in Idaho’s mountain streams and hatcheries.

answered 6/1/2016


Because steelhead are in so many places in the state over such a long period of time, it’s hard to say there is a best time and place to go steelhead fishing. However, their upstream migration provides a general timeline for when they will likely arrive in different waters.

July through September: As steelhead start arriving into Idaho they tend to move into the Clearwater River using it as a thermal refuge. These early arriving fish tend to remain in the Clearwater until the Snake River cools toward the end of September or beginning of October.

October through December: October is an exciting time for steelhead anglers as two things tend to happen. Fish start spreading upstream into the Snake and Salmon rivers and by the time you reach November steelhead can be caught about everywhere. Another exciting thing that starts to happen in October is the larger B-run steelhead start entering the Clearwater River.

January and February: January and February can be times to fish with a little more solitude on the Clearwater, Little Salmon and Salmon rivers. Cold water reduces fish activity and catch rates decline, but fishing can still be productive when conditions are good.

March through May: The Salmon River upstream of Salmon, the Little Salmon River, the North Fork Clearwater and the South Fork Clearwater all provide the best fishing in the spring. Catch rates can be really good then as the fish are moving into the smaller rivers at the end of their migration.

Each month of the year and each location provide a completely different experience – the long days of September on the lower Clearwater, a warm October day in the Salmon River canyon, a cold January day in a drift boat near Riggins or Orofino, or the spring thaw in the Stanley Basin in April. The best time to fish for steelhead is a personal choice.

answered 6/1/2016

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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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: state record crappie out of crane creek reservoir

i want to go to crane creek and try for state record crappie . i can use all the help i can get. when should we go for crappie at crane creek? thank you.


If you are going for a big crappie, the best time will be in the spring time right before spawning. Crappie typically approach shallow water in spring to spawn when water temperatures are in the low to mid 60-degree range. Depending on the weather, that might be mid-April to late May. The best fishing in spring is usually during periods of warm stable weather. Finding crappie is the hardest part, since they can move daily and often bunch up in tight schools. Explore different types of lake structure near spawning flats such as lake points, creek channels, brush piles and ledges.  As water warms up, crappie will move up from deeper structure onto these shallow flats. Try a variety of lures, but small tube jigs tipped with scent or bait are a favorite for Idaho crappie. Rember, if you go for a Certified Weight Record, you'll need to weigh the fish on a certified scale and get a receipt. You can find complete information about the state record fish program and how to apply on the IDFG website here:
Good luck!
Martin Koenig
Sportfishing Program Coordinator

answered 4/19/2016

Q: Mirror Lake

Is there a public access (free) on Mirror Lake. If so, where is it located. Thanks.


Hello.  Yes, there is a public access to launch a boat on Mirror Lake.  It is located at the north end of the lake at the small resort/campground.  You'll turn off the main road about 0.5 miles before reaching the lake.  I believe there is a sign for the campground and resort.  The campground and resort are privately owned, but Idaho Fish and Game has an easement that allows for public access.  You can launch a small boat at the dirt boat ramp and then must park in one of the designated IDFG access site parking spaces. These parking spaces are clearly marked and are located just west of the resort office.  The dock is privately owned, so you cannot use it.  There is not public shoreline access to fish from, so you'll need to plan to have a small boat to fish from.  Note that only electric motors are allowed.
I hope this helps and good luck fishing!
Andy Dux

answered 4/15/2016


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: Fishing with two pole permits

Can another person fish on a two pole permit?


No they can not fish in idaho without a valid licnese that was purchsed for the individual.

answered 4/10/2016

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: How to pick the right color lure?

I'll be going to the store in a couple days for trout lures. i was wondering what type of lure is best for trout in the Boise River? my other question is how do I pick the right type of color? Should I just pick ones that I think will work and experiment with them?


Based on my own personal experience, I would recommend smallish in-line spinners. Common brands include blue fox or mepps. Personally, I have caught trout on silver or blue and silver, blue fox spinners in size one to three. Alternatively, you might want to try small (2-3.5") "stick" baits. Common brands include rapala, storm, or others. Lastly, you might consider black or brown marabou jigs.  You will see other anglers on the Boise River that prefer bait (primarily worms or eggs) or fly fishing (primarily nymphs or streamers), which would be other options. Please be reminded that for the most part, the daily bag limit is six trout except for a small section in east Boise.   

answered 3/30/2016

Q: What types of live bait are allowed to be used in Idaho?

Are we allowed to use live minnows for bait while fishing for crappie and bluegill here in Idaho? And are we allowed to use bee moths or as some call it wax worms?


No live swimming bait is legal for use while fishing in Idaho waters.  Non-swimming live bait like worms, nightcrawlers, fly larve (maggots), wax worms, etc. are allowed to be used while fishing.  Live crayfish can only be used for bait if they were captured from the water in which you are fishing.
The reason for not allowing live bait is two-fold.  First, we don't want new invasive fish species to be established in Idaho from live bait escaping from anglers.  The second issue has to do with transmission of diseases.  Some out-of-state bait sources carry diseases that could be transmitted to Idaho fish populations and cause population level mortality.  This not only effects recreational populations of fish but can also become introduced into commercial fish rearing operations and have huge impacts on their business.

answered 3/29/2016

Q: Please plant some trout between Minidoka and Milner dams in the river, K2 park would be a good start in Burley.

Could Idaho Power's catfish planting be changed to "Trout"? We have had enough catfish...


To whom it concerns,
We appreciate your recommendation to stock Trout in Milner Reservoir; however, water temperatures are typically unsuitable for rainbow trout survival in the Milner Reservoir pool. Stocked trout that pass through the Minidoka Dam do not persist much downstream.  We have documented water temperatures that are not suitable for rainbow trout. If you haven't tried it yet, consider fishing the Minidoka bypass on the South Side.  There is good access and word has it some great trout fishing.

answered 3/24/2016

Q: Is it legal to take a photo of fishing license to show proof of purchase?

With todays age of personnel electronics. Would it be legal to use a photo on my phone to show proof of purchase for a hunting or fishing license? Since we can print our license at home if we purchase online. And is IFG looking into having an app. that will show proof?


Thank you for your question.
Yes, you may take a picture of your license and store it on your mobile device as proof of having a license.
We do not have any plans to build an app for licensing. However, we do have a mobile optimized website and those who purchase their license via a mobile device now download their license to their mobile device rather than receiving a printed license.
Please contact us again if you have additional questions.

answered 3/15/2016

Q: Permit question

What is the difference between three day License and permit for $37.50 opposed to the steelhead permit for $25.75? If they both have a three day license then what is the benefit for the more expensive permit?


There is a difference between the Steelhead Permit and the 3-day Salmon/Steelhead.   The 3-day Salmon/Steelhead is a 3-day Fishing License with a Salmon Permit and a Steelhead Permit.   The Steelhead Permit cannot be purchased unless you have a Nonresident Fishing LIcense.  As of the date this question is being answered (3/16/16) the total cost for a Nonresident Fishing License and the Steelhead Permit would be $124.00.  These items would be good for the calendar year instead of just 3 days.

answered 3/15/2016

Q: Main area for fishing

I want to know how to find the main areas for fishing?
Is there a map or site


Unfortunately our Fishing Planner, which houses, our map center is temporarily unavailable. In the interim, please see the "Fishing" tab on our website. From this page you can find our Family Fishing Waters section, our Angler Guide section, fish stocking and much more. Some of the secions contain maps/locations for fishing in Idaho.

answered 2/24/2016

Q: How can I tell what is private land and what is public?

We would like to go to Sinker Creek Lake but some sites say that it is on private land. How will we know what is private and what is public?


Please check out the interactive map center on the IDFG website for a detailed map.  After you open the map center, zoom to the area you are interested in.  On the upper left hand side, select turn layers on/off. Scroll down throught the selections and turn on land management status.  This will display property ownership in different colors. This reservoir's shoreline is about 99% private and 1% public (BLM).  Technically, you could legally access the 1% that is public if you had a good GPS unit and a map and if the reservoir was near full pool. However, I would not recommend that anyone try this as the margin for error is small and the fishing is not likely worth it due to recent drought conditions.    

answered 2/23/2016

Q: Magic Valley Fishing

I would like to know if there are any trout in Clover Creek and/or King Hill Creek? Also if there are trout in Salmon Creek Falls below the reservoir but upstream of Lily Grade? Thanks.


Dear Mr. Arnett,
Yes, there are trout in Upper Clover Creek, King Hill Creek, and Salmon Falls Creek upstream from Lily Grade.  These trout are native Redband Trout. They are relatively small and typically look slightly different than your standard hatchery Rainbow Trout. They typically have more red along their side (see link at the bottom of this email).
We do not stock any of those waters, so you should not expect to see hatchery Rainbow Trout or other Trout Species.  There's a chance you might encounter a Brook Trout in the upper-most headwaters of Clover Creek, but it would be unlikely.
If you have further, or more specific questions, feel free to contact the fisheries staff in the Magic Valley Region at 208-324-4359.
Thanks for your question.

answered 2/23/2016