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 51 - 75 of 198 questions

Q: Boise River in town

I had asked a previous question regarding the condition of the Boise River being so cloudy. I appreciate your answer and the detail that you took to explain the situation.
One thing that I did forget to ask is, what effect is this having on the fish? Certainty all that silt cannot be good for them. Are there areas of clear water they can get into the rinse their gills?
Thank you


We have very little concern that the recent levels of suspended sediment in the Boise River are negatively impacting fish populations. Fish, including the trout that everyone likes to fish for, are very resilient to temporary spikes in suspended sediment. Trout and other cold and clear water species only struggle when suspdended sediment levels become very high, include high levels of ash, when oxygen levels sag, or when a combination of these factors exist for a long time period.  These conditions were not present in the Boise River in recent months.  Fish populations and angling will be fine as soon as the water clears.  

answered 10/11/2014

Q: Fishing report: Stanley area lakes.

I am having trouble finding good fishing reports for Alturas, Stanley and Redfish lake. Can you provide some assistance or a good source. We plan on trolling with downriggers but can change up if needed. Thanks for any help you can provide.


Hi there. The Bent Rod Outdoors shop (208-879-2500) in Challis is a great source of info for recent fishing reports at some of those lakes. McCoy's Tackle shop (208-774-3377) in Stanley could also probably give you some good reports. Stanley Lake typically gets more pressure in the fall, winter, and spring for Lake Trout. Alturas and Redfish are fished quite a bit throughout the summer by tourists, and can be quite good at certain times of the year. Make sure you study the regs to know what you can and can't target/keep.

answered 9/9/2014

Q: Bear Valley Creek fishing ( Bruce Meadows )

I was recently fishing Bear Valley Creek at Bruce Meadows and caught a nice 16" Brown Trout. I was wondering if this is a species that Fishing Game planted or if this was just a fluke ?


Years ago, we used to fish the Bruce Meadows area and had a "ball" catching cutthroat and brook trout.  IDFG has never stocked brown trout in this area.
What I suspect you caught is a bull trout/brook trout hybrid.  They can have the brilliant spots that look similar to a brown trout and have the "worm-tracks" on the dorsal fin that come from the brook trout side of the parentage.  Bull trout/brook trout hybrids are incapable of producing viable off-spring.

answered 8/25/2014

Q: Winter trout fishing

Since I'm usually too busy to fish in the summer, I was wondering if there are any trout fishing opportunities in the Kootenai River drainage during winter? Thank you.


Unless otherwise noted, all streams and lakes are open year-round in Idaho now.  The Kootenai River is open all winter, as is the Moyie.  Both have some very good trout fishing.  There are lots of lakes in the Kootenai drainage as well that offer trout fishing opportunities all year.  Smith, Bonner, Brush, and Robinson are all stocked with hatchery trout.

answered 8/24/2014

Q: Whats Wrong With The Fishing On Island Park Reservoir?

I have fished Island Park Reservoir for 40 years.It used to be better than Henrys Lake.The Last 25 years have been terrible.What is wrong with this Reservoir.I have talked to people who wont go back their because the fishing stinks.Have you guys done any studies on this problem?


Thanks for your interest in fishing Island Park Reservoir.  We recognize that the fishing quality on that reservoir (like many others) fluctuates from year to year, and have been working to stabilize and improve the fishing up there.  Many factors play a role in fishing success, including stocking, wild production, environmental, weather, storage level, etc., and can be difficult to control.  One major change we've implemented is a shift in stocking fingerling trout (about 3" in length) to stocking advanced fingerlings that range up to about 6" in length.  We believe that has contributed to better fishing in recent years, as evident in our most recent creel survey data (2013).  Angler catch rates in 2013 were higher than they have been since the mid-1980's, and many anglers reported good fishing.  Reports from this year have been mixed, with some anglers reporting good fishing, but others struggling to catch fish.  My personal succes this year has been well below what I caught last year.  In short, Island Park is operated as an irrigation storage reservoir, and will fluctuate often and substantially to meet downstream demands.  This, in combination with the factors listed above, will continue to make managing for a quality, consistent fishery in Island Park a challenge.

answered 8/21/2014

Q: Shirts Lake Management Plan

I recently backpacked to Shirts Lake just west of Cascade in hopes of landing some Brook Trout with my kids...only to find that the lake is dead of anything but Tiger Muskie. It appears that IDFG introduced Tiger Muskie to control the Brook Trout population in 2007. I am curious as to the remaining management plan regarding the life span of the Tiger Muskie and when other fish may be reintroduced to the lake?


The lake will be stocked with rainbow trout when all the Tiger Muskie are gone. A few remain and we will try and remove them this fall still. There were still some brookies left in 2013.

answered 8/18/2014

Q: Trout in unstocked lakes

I've found several alpine lakes in the Sawtooths with cutthroat trout yet the lakes do not appear in the F & G stocking reports for any year; they're called "unnamed lake" on the Idaho FishMap and no stocking record is given. In some cases, the lakes are not connected by creeks to any other lakes. Can I assume these lakes were stocked "back in the day" before records were kept and the fishery has reproduced naturally since? Or is there a super-secret stocking report only available to F & G employees (just kidding)?
Some related questions: Are there naturally reproducing populations in the alpine lakes or does stocking produce all sizeable fish? Why were quite a few alpine lakes in the Sawtooths recently switched from stocking of cutthroats to rainbow? I've noticed that rainbows are coming in in some of these lakes but cutthroats are still holding strong in others. Does F & G want observations by fisherman who visit the same lakes every year and notice things about the fishery?
Thanks for this Q & A opportunity and making the Idaho trout fishing so much fun!


A number of lakes were stocked many years ago with rainbow and cutthroat trout that established natural reproducing populations.  When we inventory the fish populations in the lakes, if they are being sustained by natural reproduction, we often discontinue stocking or stock less frequently.  Most mountain lake stocking that currently takes place is with sterile fish so we can better control spread and population numbers in the various lakes.
Most mountain lake stocking in Idaho is done by fixed-wing airplane.  There are some lakes that may not have a map name but we have a drainage numbering system and GPS coordinates that remain on our stocking schedule.  Some of these lakes without names may also have been inadvertently stocked prior to GPS technology and a self-sustaining population of fish resulted.
Species of fish stocked in a mountain lake depends on the type of habitat available, the availability of westslope cutthroat, and the preference of our Regional Fisheries Managers.  Over the years, by trial-and-error, we've discovered rainbow trout do better in some lakes than rainbow trout and vise-versa.  We've also made changes based on angler preference, as well.  There are even a number of lakes that receive both rainbow and cuttroat in the same year.  Additionally, there are some years where we don't have enough cutthroat to meet stocking requests so we substitute sterile rainbow trout - just to maintain a fishery in lakes without natural reproduction.
By all means - please send us fishing reports from your mountain lakes fishing trips.  Because of the amount of time required to access the lakes from the ground, our sampling crews visit them once every 10 - 12 years.  Your information if invaluable in helping us make adjustments to our management of mountain lakes fisheries.

answered 8/7/2014

Q: what causes a fish to turn white?

I recently floated the Big Springs river with my family. I was enjoying watching for and and finding fish. I seen one fish that appeared to be half white, with what appeared to be a vertical line at the dorsal fin. I paddled back up to see if I can see it again,then I seen the opposite side and it was all white except for the head and tail. The shape seemed like a trout because of the light color I was thinking Golden, but I very well could be wrong on the type but the white fish I am sure of. What did I see? or what caused the white fish?


What you may be seeing on the fish is fungus from a wound on the fish.  Many times, when herrons or pelicans attempt to catch a fish and miss, there will be injuries on both sides the fish where fungus will grow.  Once established on the fish, it can spread and can cause eventual mortality.  The other thing is sunburn.  Yes, fish do sunburn in clear, shallow streams.  The lighter skin pigments will darken with time.

answered 7/30/2014

Q: What are the bugs embedded in the trout at Sagehen reservoir?

I recently went to Sagehen reservoir and caught several fish that had living bugs embedded in their skin. Are they safe to eat?


Yes, remove the skin from the fish and they'll be fine to eat.
What you see on the skin of the fish are copepods, or often referred to as "aquatic lice."  They are present in almost every waterbody in Idaho and usually become active when water temperatures warm-up in June through August.
If you look at the copepods under a microscope you will see jagged hooks they use to attach to the outside of the fish.  Eventually, if they remain attached, will form an ulcer on the skin of the fish which can become infected.  Most of the time, water temperatures cool before the wound becomes fatal to the fish, and the copepods fall off.

answered 7/25/2014

Q: Catch limits

I was wondering about catch limits. At Edson Fichter Pond in Pocatello it says that there is now a 2 fish limit instead of 6 like it says on their website. I was wondering if the catch limit was per license or per person fishing. I have two boys who are under the age limit. Please clarify this soon, I'm planning on taking them fishing soon. Thank you!!!


I was in Pocatello at Edison Fichter pond just yesterday.  Fishing for rainbow trout was very good and several people had their two-trout limit.  Each licensed angler can catch and keep 2 trout.  For resident youth under 14 years of age, they can also catch and keep 2 trout.  Nonresident youth under 14 can fish without a license but they must be accompanies by someone with a valid fishing license and the fish they catch and keep count towards the license holders daily bag limit.

answered 7/23/2014

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

Q: Salmon Catching

Im Going to go to coeur d' alene on august 18 then leaving the 21st and my family are going fishing at coeur d'alene lake and we were wondering we are going to get our fishing license's at walmart like always when we go fishing i was wondering do we have to get a salmon license's to catch salmon?


No, you don't need a Salmon Permit to fish in Lake Coeur d'Alene for Fall Chinook.  The Salmon Permit is only required when fishing for anadromous (ocean-run) salmon.  Land-locked salmon are treated like trout in most waters.

answered 7/16/2014

Q: tagged fish

I was fishing on the ashton resivor and I caught a tagged trout. What do I do with the trout?


Thank you for your question and congratulations on catching a tagged fish.  If you caught a tagged fish of harvestable size, we hope it was good eating!
When you catch a tagged fish, please report the tag using our Tag! You're It! program web page (go to, Fishing tab, Tagging Programs) or you may also call our toll-free Fish Tag Returns hotline at 1-866-258-0338. The info we're looking for is the number on the tag, where and when you caught your fish, what kind it was, and how big it was. Sometimes non-harvestable fish are tagged or you may choose to release the fish, rather than keep it - in that situation, please cut the tag off the fish before releasing it, and report the info on the webpage or using the hotline.
Idaho Fish & Game can estimate population size, harvest, growth, movement, and survival from these tags.  The overall goal of all of these tagging studies is to help the department manage Idaho's fisheries and to make fishing better for you.  The success of this program relies on voluntary reporting of tagged fish and we truly appreciate your efforts to get this info to us and for taking an active role in the management of your fisheries.
Thanks very much and good luck fishing!
Liz Mamer, Tag! You're It! Program

answered 7/13/2014

Q: How can I find an alpine cirque lake with a natural (non-human introduced) and native trout population?

I am trying to find an alpine cirque lake somewhere in central Idaho (Salmon basin) that has a natural trout population. By natural I mean not-introduced by humans at any point and not stocked; a population that arrived there by swimming up a headwater stream. So fish that arrived there prior to the 1800's. I am looking for such a lake for catch and release fly fishing. I know I can use the stocking records on your website to find lakes that don't exist in the database, but since those records only go back to the 60's and there was stocking before that in many areas it is difficult to know. I guess the only way to be certain would be a genetic analysis of the different populations. But does Idaho Fish and Game have any records of alpine lakes with pre-historic trout populations that have not received subsequent stocking? Maybe for Bull trout it's easier to assume they were present naturally, but what about westslope cutthroat? My sincere thanks for any help.


I hope you're not too disappointed, but there were never fish in the type of lakes you describe.  Prior to the beginning of mountain lake stocking in Idaho, headwater barriers and subsurface flows prevented native fish species from reaching upper elevation mountain lakes.  In the early 1900's enterprising sportsmen began transporting native salmonids (cutthroat and rainbow) and non-native brook trout to mountain lakes.  Once established in the upper elevation lakes, the fish were transported downstream by surface flows.
In Idaho, there are hundreds of high elevation cirque lakes with no inlet or outlet and they are totally fed by snow-melt.  A number of these lakes are not stocked with fish for various reasons - including extremely difficult access and protection of native amphibians.

answered 7/12/2014

Q: Swager lake

hello, my friend recently told me about a lake called swager lake. It is located near sawmill canyon. We were wondering if there is a walkable trail to it and what the limit might be?


You're friend was likely referring to Swauger Lake in the Little Lost River drainage. Swauger Lake is located on the other side of the Little Lost drainage from Sawmill Canyon, in the Dry Creek watershed. The trail to Swauger Lake starts from Long Lost Creek. The current regulations in Swauger Lake are:
trout limit is 2, none under 20 inches.

answered 7/5/2014

Q: What lures work best for chinook?

What lures work best for chinook on the upper salmon river up by Stanley?


I'm not going to tell you that lures don't work for catching Chinook salmon - because as soon as I do, the fish prove me wrong.  If you are going to use a lure, use one that mimics a predatory fish the Chinook think might be a threat to eat the eggs they are preparing to lay.  I would consider an olive green and silver color spoon that could resemble a bull trout or a northern pikeminnow.
Your chances of catching a Chinook salmon are better if you use bait.  Salmon eggs or tuna balls have proven to be effective baits for catching Chinook.  Remember to use a barbless hook.

answered 6/30/2014

Q: Swan Falls Res Panfish

I know there are crappie in the lake behind Swan Falls Dam, but I never hear much about people catching them there. Are there any fish surveys or other data that would show the size and number of crappies and other panfish in the reservoir?


If you go to our webpage (; click on the "Science" tab; "Fisheries" and search for "Swan Falls Reservoir," you will find all our technical information for Swan Falls Reservoir.  Swan Falls Reservoir has both species of bass, bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and rainbow trout.  Essentially, everything that is found in C.J. Strike Reservoir can be found in Swan Falls.  Only difference is, Swan Falls is a very shallow, sediment laden reservoir.  Fish habitat is marginal so populations are not as large as you would find in C.J. Strike.
Fish coves and rocky shoreline for the best warmwater fishing.  Also, anyplace with woody debris will attract fish in Swan Falls.

answered 6/26/2014

Q: Fish Stocking in the Buffalo River

I have noticed in in recent years that the fishing has significantly went down on the Buffalo River. In looking at historical stocking reports, it states that there has been no stocking since 2002. Is there a specific reason for this? My family and I enjoy the fishing in Island Park especially the Buffalo River and would like to know if stocking is going to start again. Thanks.


Thanks for your interest in the Buffalo River.  As you note, we have not stocked that reach for over a decade, primarily because angler use of hatchery fish was low there.  The reach is currently supported by natural reproduction of resident trout, and also some fish from the Henrys Fork that migrate upstream over a fish ladder on the lower end of the Buffalo.  Since the reach is supported by natural reproduction, there will be periods where the fishing is better than other years, and also worse.  Generally, envirnomental conditions such as temperatures and precipitation dictate how many wild fish are produced each year, which in turn influences angler catch rates.
Given our current financial situation with declining license sales, it is unlikely that we will be able to stock the Buffalo River in the near future.  Our hatcheries are supported entirely by revenue generated from license sales, and until those sales improve, we are scaling back production.  Stockings in all waters have been reduced, and in some cases (like the Buffalo) eliminated entirely.  If and when our financial situation improves, we can re-visit the stocking program and increase stockings where they will be effective at improving the fishing.
If you have additional questions, feel free to give me a call at 208-525-7290.

answered 6/24/2014

Q: soldiers meadow reservoir

since IDFG poisoned all the fish in soldiers meadows, is there any plan at all plant crappie back in the reservoir?...the only reason i went to soldiers meadow was to catch good eating crappie and would like to continue fishing there and so would alot of other poeple I know.... and please if your not going to stock crappie, please put something in there besides trout.


This winter and spring we held public meetings, sent out e-mails (over 800) and posted notices in the newspaper to get input on which fish people would like to see the reservoir managed for in the future.  Based on public response we have decided to manage Soldiers Meadow Resrvoir for Kokanee.  This spring we stocked fingerling Kokanee into the reservoir, and by 2016 these fish should be big enough to provide a fishery.  We will also stock a limited number of sterile rainbow trout to provide some shore fishing oppotunities.
If you have further questions, feel free to give me a call.
Joe DuPont, 208-799-5010.

answered 6/13/2014

Q: Cutthroat trout in Baptie lake?

Historically, Baptie lake, near Goat and Betty lakes in the copper basin area, has produced very large cutthroat trout. This lake produces cutts in the 28-30 inch class and i noticed their numbers have dwindled over the past ten years. This lake has not been stocked with cutts since 1989. This is an amazing fishery. Very few alpine lakes are capable of producing trout this size. Why has the stalking of cutthroat trout stopped? Why is the potential of this lake being ignored and used to host tiny greyling and goldens?


Thanks for your interest in Baptie Lake in the Copper Basin.  As you note, Baptie is capable of growing some very large trout.  In the past, the fishery has been supported by cutthroat trout, although in more recent times, grayling and now golden trout have been stocked.  We switched to goldens to take advantage of the fast growth in that lake in the hopes of creating a fishery for large golden trout - an opportunity that is rare across the range of golden trout.  We realize that they will not grow to the same size as cutthroat used to, but we think it is worthwhile to try to grow a potentially large (for the species) golden trout.  We do try to offer a diversity of angling experiences in our mountain lakes program, and cutthroat trout are available in both Goat and Betty lakes nearby.  If we are unable to provide a satisfactory fishery for large golden trout, we can reevaluate our stocking program as neessary to ensure we meet our management objectives and increase angler satisfaction.
If you have additional questions, feel free to call me at 525-7290.
Dan Garren
Regional Fisheries Manager, Upper Snake Region

answered 6/9/2014

Q: Lake Trout status in Payette Lake

It appeared that Fish and Game was placing nets in Payette Lake this spring. Are the Lake trout being targeted for removal? What is the long term management plan for them in Payette Lake?


The nets placed in Payette Lake were to allow us to 1) assess the body condition of lake trout in Payette Lake and 2) to make a population estimate of the lake trout in Payette Lake.
We have a known number of tagged lake trout in the waterbody from previous trapping efforts.  We can then use the ratio of tagged versus untagged fish captured to generate a rough estimate of the overall lake trout population.  We do have a minor correction factor we apply to off-set natural mortality and potential angler harvest - for fish over 29" in length.

answered 6/5/2014

Q: possession for the limits.

do trout fishing have possession limits?


Yes, the possession limit for trout is the same as the daily bag limit.  Even if you are gone for the weekend (3 days) you can still only have one possession/bag limit per licensed or resident angler in your vehicle.  In most places in Idaho, that is 6 trout per licensed angler while in transit.

answered 6/4/2014

Q: Commercial source for wild Idaho trout?

A restaurant in Seattle lists "Stream Trout" on the menu. I asked the chef where was the trout from. Answer: Idaho.
So I said, "oh, from a fish farm"?
The chef was irate in replying that her restaurant serves no farm raised fish.
I replied that it was unlikely that there was a commercial source of wild trout from Idaho.
Question: Is there a source of "stream trout" from Idaho that are not a fish farm product?


Next time, ask the chef to check with their restaurant buyers to identify the source of the trout being served.  There is no commercial harvest of rainbow trout allowed in Idaho from streams.  The majority of trout sold from Idaho is raised in the Magic Valley (Twin Falls/Hagerman) area on water flowing from the 1,000 Springs aquifer.  Large companies such as Clear Springs Trout, Rangen's, and Idaho Trout Producers market the vast majority of commerically produced trout in Idaho from their Magic Valley facilities.

answered 6/2/2014

Q: Chesterfield reservoir

is Chesterfield reservoir open for big fish or just planted?


Chesterfield Reservoir, located in our Southeast Region is managed as a "quality fishery."  It is annually stocked with rainbow trout, however, the daily trout limit is 2 per licensed angler.
Chesterfield Reservoir is very "productive" and grows big fish in a short amount of time.  The real limiting factor for this system is water.  In years where water levels remain high through the winter, trout will grow and survive for more than a year.  When water levels are low, then over-winter survival of trout is low and the fishery is supported by 8 - 10" fish stocked in the springtime from our hatchery system.

answered 5/27/2014

Q: Upper Snake Region ( Willow Creek tributaries that are closed until July 1st

In the Fishing regulations 2013 - 2015, Upper Snake Region, you have Willow Creek Tributaries open - July 1st through March 31, 6 fish no cutthroat trout. You then show Hell creek and Lava creek as willow creek tributaries but, you do not show Cellars Creek, Grays Lake Outlet, Brockman Creek, Dan Creek, Mill Creek and I know there are more. My Question is. Are all these steams also closed until July 1st ?


On page 38 of the 2013 - 2015 Fishing Rule booklet, bottom right hand column, are the rules for Willow Creek and all tributaries to Willow Creek.  The season for all tributaries: July 1 - March 31, you can harvest 6 trout but none of them can be cutthroat trout.  All Willow Creek tributaries (including the one you asked about) are closed to fishing from April 1 - June 30.

answered 5/22/2014