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 176 - 198 of 198 questions

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Yes, you can. They have been available since January 1, 2003. Because no rules prohibited such plates, the Transportation Department decided it was allowed to issue some special interest plates for such towed vehicles. Wildlife license plates, including the bluebird, elk and cutthroat trout, generate money for Idaho Fish and Game nongame programs.

answered 1/23/2011

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It depends. In most of the state, there are no restrictions on the number of holes, but an ice angler can fish with up to five poles or lines at a time, and up to five hooks per line. A two-pole validation does not allow more than five lines while ice fishing. All lines must be attended by the angler. One exception is on Bear Lake, where a two-pole permit is required year around, for anglers to use two poles - even when ice fishing. Another exception is on Daniels, Springfield, Treasureton and Twenty-Four Mile trophy-trout reservoirs. On these trophy trout waters only one rod is allowed for ice fishing. Check fishing rules book for additional details.

answered 1/13/2011

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The winter stream season ends March 31 - except in the Panhandle Region, where it runs through May 22. Until then trout fishing is catch-and-release only, but whitefish and brook trout may be harvested in streams open during the winter stream season. Except that whitefish in the Big Lost River are protected and may not be harvested at any time. Fishing gear or bait restrictions that apply to a river or stream section during the general season also apply during the winter stream season. See regional exceptions in the Idaho 2008-2010 Fishing Seasons and Rules for waters open to winter stream fishing. Fish may be taken in the many rivers and streams open to fishing all year; other streams closed for the winter open to fishing May 23 for the Memorial Day weekend.

answered 3/14/2010

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Fish and Game stocks some waters all year round. Other waters are stocked at various times during the year. Some species are stocked all summer, others like trout are limited by temperature. So for some good early season trout fishing, head out now before the weather gets too warm. For a current stocking report in your part of the state contact the regional Fish and Game office, or go online to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/stocking/.

answered 2/28/2010

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It's a joke. But it wasn't always. In about 1917 it became illegal to fish from the back of an animal. Any animal. The law was not specific about the kind of animal, whether camel, zebra, rhino or giraffe. This item from the 1920 Fish and Game rules made it clear: "It is unlawful: ... ; to fish for trout from the back of any animal, or to travel up or down any stream on back of animal while fishing for trout." This restriction no longer appears in Fish and Game rules. But "chasing fish up or downstream in any manner" is still illegal.

answered 4/5/2009

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The winter stream season ends March 31 - except in the Panhandle Region, where it runs through May 22. Until then trout fishing is catch-and-release only, but whitefish and brook trout may be harvested in streams open during the winter stream season. Except that whitefish in the Big Lost River are protected and may not be harvested at any time. Fishing gear or bait restrictions that apply to a river or stream section during the general season, also apply during the winter stream season. See regional exceptions in the Idaho 2008-2009 Fishing Seasons and Rules for waters open to winter stream fishing. Fish may be taken in the many rivers and streams open to fishing all year; other streams closed for the winter, open to fishing May 23 for the Memorial Day weekend.

answered 3/23/2009

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Yes, and you don't need a steelhead permit. But any steelhead caught must be released unharmed immediately, and you could be cited if you're fishing with steelhead gear. A steelhead is a rainbow trout more than 20 inches long in steelhead waters.

answered 10/26/2008

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No. The daily limit in Henrys Lake is two trout, including brook trout. The possession limit, however, is the same as the daily limit; therefore the most fish you can have in your possession is two. Parts of the lake are closed to fishing. Check the fishing rules book for additional details.

answered 10/5/2008

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Idaho's steelhead are rainbow trout that, like salmon, migrate to the ocean and return to fresh water to spawn. They are classified as A-run or B-run, based on their size and ocean life history.A-run steelhead are usually found in the Snake and Salmon rivers. They return from the ocean earlier in the year, usually June through August, and they most often return after spending one year in the ocean. Because they return early in the year and because they usually come back after only one year in the ocean, average A-run steelhead weigh 4 to 6 pounds and are generally 23 to 26 inches long.The B-run steelhead most often return to the Clearwater River, but some return to tributaries in the Salmon River. These fish usually spend two years in the ocean, and start their migration to Idaho later in the summer or fall of the year, usually late August or September. Because of the extra year and the extra summer of growing in the ocean, they return as much bigger fish. Average B-run steelhead weigh between 10 and 13 pounds and are 31 to 34 inches long.Steelhead grow very large when they spend a third year in the ocean. These steelhead are usually larger than 37 inches and often weigh more than 20 pounds. The Idaho state record steelhead was 30 pounds and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.

answered 5/13/2007

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Ice fishing on reservoirs and lakes can turn those long winter days into great outdoor adventures. But always check the ice thickness and condition before venturing over deep water. Anglers need a minimum of 3 to 4 inches clear, solid ice to support their weight. But 8 to 10 inches are needed to support a snow machine or an ATV. Most lakes and reservoirs are open year round. When the weather is cold enough, ice on these waters can be safe and provide good fishing for yellow perch and trout and other fish. Consult the Idaho fishing rules brochure for seasons, limits and restrictions.

answered 1/28/2007

A: 

You can. They have been available since January 1, 2003, after the state transportation board the previous May responded to a question about issuing plates for towed recreational vehicles. Because no rules prohibited such plates, the Transportation Department decided it was allowed to issue some special interest plates for such towed vehicles. Wildlife license plates, including the bluebird, elk and cutthroat trout, generate money for Idaho Fish and Game nongame programs.

answered 1/21/2007

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In Idaho, you can use fish and fish parts for bait anywhere except in "no bait" waters. Many anglers use dead rainbow trout or trout parts from hatcheries for sturgeon bait, but they need a receipt to show the source if they have more than six trout in their possession. If other species of gamefish are used, anglers need to watch limits for them as well.

answered 3/26/2006

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In response to anglers' requests for more family-oriented fishing opportunities and simplified rules, IDFG has developed the Family Fishing Waters program. The idea is to make it easy, simple and fun for folks to go fishing with the children, and to target waters where beginners have a great chance of catching their first fish. Many of these waters are at parks or areas with other facilities that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Family Fishing Waters are open all year and have a six fish limit for trout and bass. There are no bag limits on other species and no length limits. Family Fishing Waters also provide easy access, and area easily fished by anyone with simple, standard fishing gear. Check the Region maps in the new 2006-2007 Fishing Rules Book for Family Fishing Waters near you. The brochures soon will be available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices. Anglers aged 14 and older must have a fishing license in their possession.

answered 12/29/2005

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If you had left Idaho 20 years ago and just returned, you would be amazed at the number of fishing waters open year round now. Basically, if it is a lake, pond, reservoir or large river, it is probably open to fishing right now. If it is a smaller stream with trout, it probably will not be open to fishing until Memorial Day weekend. But, please take a few minutes to look at the fishing rules book, especially the "Exceptions" sections in each region.

answered 3/27/2005

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You heard something dog owners should know. Salmon, including kokanee and maybe rainbow trout, can carry a parasite that is potentially fatal to our four-legged friends. Best advice is to not allow your dog or cat to eat raw salmon, salmon guts or waste from the processing of salmonid fish.

answered 1/9/2005

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No, in this case you can keep six trout and six bass for a total of 12. Limits apply to each species of fish. You need to check for special rules for the place you are fishing. If there are no special rules in the exceptions pages then general rules for trout and bass apply. Please note the general rule for bass is 6 fish, none under 12 inches.

answered 4/29/2004

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The rule on artificial light, which applied only to trout, was dropped several years ago. Lighted lures are okay.

answered 9/7/2003

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The new Idaho license plate featuring a native cutthroat trout in a mountain scene will join the popular bluebird and elk plates at your county assessor's office early in 2003 but not at the first of January. The graphics for the new plate were not delivered to the Idaho Department of Transportation as quickly as was anticipated, so it looks like something around a month's delay. Patience: The license plate is bound to look fine on anglers' and fish fanciers' favorite rides.

answered 12/29/2002

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This is indeed about the time of year you may see kokanee start heading up some of our trout steams from lakes and reservoirs. You're right, they are salmon, but being a landlocked variety, fishing for kokanee is not affected by rules for salmon fishing. In most areas kokanee will be counted in your trout limit, but there are exceptions in the rules, so read your rulebook on the specific area you are fishing. Remember, game fish must be hooked in the mouth or head. Not so long ago snagging kokanee was allowed in Idaho, but that is true no longer, and intentional foul-hooking can bring you a ticket.

answered 8/11/2002

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Technically the brook trout is a char, more closely related to bull trout than to rainbows or cutthroats. They are not a native species in Idaho. The limit is high because brook trout are very prolific and tend to out-compete and interbreed with the other trout species. Brook trout are a significant threat to fishing opportunity for native cutthroat trout and bull trout. They also tend to become stunted when over-crowded in lakes.

answered 5/13/2001

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A number of years ago, the department did publish such a book which was extremely popular with many anglers but irked a lot of others whose favorite secret trout lake was revealed. As backcountry use increased, the department decided for biological reasons that it was best to stop printing a guide that potentially could bring too much pressure on sensitive fishing resources. Many old-time Idaho anglers still have a copy in their fishing libraries-usually guarded tighter than the family silver-that they might let you see. Not much has changed in alpine fisheries over the years and the high country is still the right place to be this time of year.

answered 7/6/2000

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Brook trout are an introduced species that is very prolific and competes with native trout for food and habitat. Reducing the competition is the objective of this limit. Actually, the rule is "ten in addition to the trout limit" so if your first six trout were brook trout, you could be going home with 16 of them altogether.

answered 6/1/2000

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Fish and Game needs some information in an effort to improve the catchable rainbow trout we plant in some Idaho waters. If the tag has "$$ 10 $$" on it, you're and instant $10 winner. Otherwise, turning in the tag information places you in a drawing for $50. It is cheaper (and more fun) to reward anglers for turning in tags than to gather this information some other way. If you caught a trout with a tag, send your name, address, phone number, date and location fish was caught and the flattened tag (or just the number, if you want to keep the tag) to IDFG Fisheries Research, P.O. Box 428, Jerome, ID 83338.

answered 5/11/2000