Tag Archives: idaho

Only 3 South Selkirk Caribou Left, Intensive Survey Finds

There may be only three mountain caribou left in Washington’s, Idaho’s and British Columbia’s herd — a 75-percent decline since last year.

RECENT SURVEYS FOUND NO BULLS IN THE SOUTH SELKIRK HERD. (USFWS)

Mid-March’s intensive three-day winter survey found only cows as well.

“It’s a tough situation for caribou in the South Selkirks,” says Bart George, a wildlife biologist for the Kalispel Tribe in Cusick, north of Spokane.

It marks a new low for a herd challenged by large-scale habitat alterations and new predators, wolves, arriving in the heights.

At one time mountain caribou were as numerous as “bugs,” according to a First Nations man interviewed for Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest, a film that made the rounds in the region last summer.

George says that the three cows, which are fairly young animals of seven years or less, were all captured and given GPS collars.

They were also tested to see if they were pregnant.

Those results just arrived in Vancouver and “hopefully” will be available soon, he says, but if the animals are pregnant, that would mean there may still be a bull or two somewhere out there on the landscape, or at least was last fall.

And if the cows successfully bear calves, the herd could possibly rebuild to six later this spring, George says.

If not, managers may need to supplement with caribou from farther north — though that may also depend on what surveys in the Purcell Mountains turn up.

“We’re not going to just let three animals, especially cows, die in the Selkirks,” George vows.

This winter has been pretty solid in this mountainous country, with snowpack at 150 percent of average — “great for caribou” — but it also buried a maternity pen that was built especially for the cows, rendering it useless for protection from predators.

It’s also too late to safely recapture the cows if they are pregnant, George says.

He plans to intensify his monitoring of the herd with a spotting scope, maybe even drones, in hopes of finding that they had calves.

The collars may also lead them to other caribou that somehow were overlooked during the fixed-wing and helicopter surveys last month.

“We were hoping for 12 again,” George says.

As for why the herd’s numbers dropped so precipitously from a dozen in March 2017, he says it’s possible that other members had been hit by an avalanche or there was a vehicle strike on the main highway through the mountains, though he didn’t hear of one.

“We’re still going to move forward as if there are caribou on the landscape, and go ahead with wolf control actions” on the BC side of the herd’s range, George says.

He notes that there’s a collar on one of Washington’s Salmo Pack, which numbers six and overlaps with the ungulate’s recovery zone.

Though the caribou primarily stay in Canada, the southernmost herd in North America still make occasional forays into Washington and Idaho, according to collar data, George says.

 

Correction: The Kalispel Tribe’s name and headquarters were incorrect in the original version of this post. They are based in Cusick, not Ione, further north on the Pend Oreille River.

2018 Northwest Spring Turkey Forecast

Prospects look good, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s regional turkey biologist. Here are her forecasts for Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

By Mikal Cline

Oregon’s wild turkeys continue to thrive, despite some mortality during the winter of 2016-17. We may notice a missing cohort of 2-year-old toms in the field this year, but in general the populations are quite healthy.

TACOMA CLOWERS OF THE BEND AREA GOT INTO THE DOUBLE BONUS DURING THE 2015 SPRING GOBBLER HUNT IN EASTERN OREGON, A PAIR OF ELK ANTLER SHEDS. HIS UNCLE CARL LEWALLEN SENT THE PIC. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Oregon primarily offers Rio Grande wild turkey hunting, though some Merriam’s still persist in the Cascades. Oregon’s core populations exist in the southwest portion of the state, in the vicinity of Roseburg and Medford. The scattered oak savannas and transitional pine forests offer excellent habitat. Mild winters and early springs contribute to high survival and productivity.

OREGON’S “GOOD OLD” DOUGLAS COUNTY PAID OFF FOR JAYCE WILDER DURING THE 2016 SPRING HUNT. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Take advantage of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Access & Habitat Program (dfw.state.or.us/lands/AH) if you are struggling to find good hunting access in this area. The Jackson Travel Management Area near Shady Cove is a personal favorite.

Wild turkeys also thrive on Forest Service land from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in the northeast corner of the state, over to the Ochocos. The Malheur National Forest is one of my favorite spots to hunt turkeys in Central Oregon, thanks to healthy populations and excellent public access. Wild turkey density starts to thin out in the Central Cascades, but the White River area continues to be a big producer.

SHHH, DON’T TELL THE TRUANT OFFICER, BUT KEVIN KENYON SKIPPED SCHOOL DURING LAST YEAR’S TURKEY SEASON, BAGGING THIS BIRD WHILE HUNTING WITH HIS UNCLE. “TOOK ALMOST 3 HOURS BUT WHEN YOUR TURKEY HUNTING PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE,” NOTED KEVIN’S DAD, MARK. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

ODFW made a concerted effort to trap and transplant overstocked birds this past winter. I believe we can expect some emerging opportunities in South-central Oregon (think Klamath to Lakeview), thanks to this effort. The Ochocos and White River Wildlife Management Unit populations will also benefit from ODFW’s efforts.

The south Willamette Valley, particularly Lane County, is another emerging opportunity for wild turkey hunters, should they be able to secure hunting access.

JACOB HALEY NOTCHES HIS YOUTH TURKEY TAG FOLLOWING A SUCCESSFUL MORNING WITH “GUIDE” TROY RODAKOWSKI IN THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

IDAHO BUMPS BAG

Spring turkey hunters in the Gem State can now take two bearded birds a day, thanks to a rule change from the Fish and Game Commission earlier this year. 

It’s yet another sign that gobblers are doing well in much of their range across Idaho.

“They’re overrun,” jokes NWTF’s Mikal Cline. It’s going to be a great turkey season in Idaho.”

Commissioners also increased fall hunting opportunities in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southwest regions, and added youth spring and fall controlled hunts in the Salmon district.

However, the general spring turkey season was closed in Unit 70, in Southeast Idaho.

The annual limit is still two bearded turkeys per spring.

WASHINGTON’S EASTSIDE TURKEY populations are robust, prompting the Department of Fish and Wildlife to propose more liberal fall seasons in some locations. The core population of Washington’s turkeys occurs in the northeast corner of the state, consisting primarily of the Merriam’s subspecies. Colville is the epicenter of spring turkey hunting in Washington, boasting high hunter success rates and a turkey harvest that is an order of magnitude greater than any other turkey management unit in
the state.

HOW JEREMY RACE CORRALLED THREE LITTLE BOYS TO SIT STILL FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME DURING THIS SPRING TURKEY HUNT IS ANYBODY’S GUESS, BUT HIS NEPHEW CARTER MADE GOOD ON HIS SHOT OPPORTUNITY. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

We are seeing increased nuisance and damage complaints coming from the suburban fringes of Spokane and Cheney, but hunter access remains a constraint. We are also seeing increasing hybridization between Rio Grande and Merriam’s in this area.

JOHNNY HONE DOWNED HIS FIRST GOBBLER WITH A SINGLE SHOT FROM HIS 20-GAUGE SHOTGUN AT 25 YARDS AFTER HIS DAD JOHN CALLED HIM WITHIN RANGE. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The foothills of the Blue Mountains in Southeast Washington are also a world-class destination, with the towns of Dayton, Pomeroy and Walla Walla serving as gateways for excellent Rio Grande turkey hunting.

The Klickitat River watershed offers the best turkey hunting closer to the west side of the state. Check with WDFW for access opportunities on wildlife areas and industrial timberlands in the area.

THE HARSH WINTER OF 2016-17 MAY HAVE LINGERING EFFECTS ON HOW MANY TURKEYS SPRING HUNTERS SEE IN SOME PARTS OF THE NORTHWEST, BUT OVERALL PROSPECTS ARE GOOD. RICH AND MATT OAKLEY OF VANCOUVER BAGGED THEIR FIRST EVER GOBBLERS IN KLICKITAT COUNTY ON THE SECOND DAY OF LAST YEAR’S HUNT. FRIEND GREG ELLYSON SENT THE PIC. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Turkey hunting in Southwest Washington for the eastern subspecies continues to be a challenge. These flocks have never thrived, but do persist in certain areas, including Lewis County. Tapping into local knowledge is the best way to complete your Washington turkey slam, but you will have to work for it.

KEITH MOEN, THE SUBJECT OF A BIG ARTICLE IN OUR PAGES LAST FALL, HARVESTED THIS SPRING TURKEY A COUPLE SEASONS BACK IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

From Goldendale to the Methow, the east slope of the Cascades continues to hold pockets of wild turkeys, which do seem to be increasing, though there are not rigorous surveys in this area. Again, local knowledge from your district wildlife biologist will help you locate these birds.

MCKENNA RISLEY SHOWS OFF HER FIRST TURKEY, TAKEN IN THE METHOW VALLEY LAST SPRING WHILE HUNTING WITH HER DAD ROB. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

On an interesting note, we have heard evidence that wild turkeys have crossed Snoqualmie Pass and have been seen around North Bend.

Also, WDFW is in the process of updating its wild turkey management plan, including the trap and transplant operational guidelines. Until the plan is approved, T&T operations are on hold. 

Editor’s note: For more on how to hunt Northwest gobblers, check out the April issue of Northwest Sportsman!

Idaho Salmon Managers Set Spring Chinook Seasons

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Fish and Game Commission on Thursday, March 22 approved spring Chinook fishing on the Clearwater, Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to start April 28 and run until closed by the Fish and Game director.

SALMON MANAGERS EXPECT TWICE AS MANY SPRING CHINOOK BACK TO IDAHO RIVERS, LIKE THE CLEARWATER WHERE GARRETT GRUBBS CAUGHT THIS ONE SEVERAL SEASONS AGO, THAN LAST YEAR, THOUGH ONLY JUST SLIGHTLY MORE THAN THE AVERAGE OVER THE PAST DECADE. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Fisheries managers are forecasting a run of 66,000 spring Chinook, roughly double last year’s return and slightly above the 10-year average of 62,000.

Included in the forecast are 53,000 hatchery Chinook and 13,000 wild Chinook. The 2017 return was 30,000 and 4,000.

The actual run has just started with only six spring Chinook crossing Bonneville Dam as of March 22.

Rules will include open fishing four days per week, Thursdays through Sundays, in the Clearwater drainage and seven days per week in the Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers.

Daily bag limits will be four per day with no more than one being an adult (24-inches or longer) in the Clearwater River system and four per day with no more than two being adults in the Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers.

Sections of the Clearwater River open for fishing will include:

  • Mainstem Clearwater from Camas Prairie Bridge upstream to the mouth of the South Fork of the Clearwater River.
  • North Fork Clearwater from mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater from mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red rivers
  • Middle Fork Clearwater from South Fork Clearwater upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.
  • Salmon River will be open from Rice Creek Bridge upstream to the uppermost boat ramp at Vinegar Creek.
  • Little Salmon River will be open from the mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
  • Snake River will be open from Dug Bar boat ramp to Hells Canyon Dam.

Full rules will be posted on Fish and Game’s website in late March or early April.  Printed rules will be available prior to the season opener.

$70 Million From Federal Fish, Wildlife Restoration Program Coming To Northwest DFWs

Northwest fish and wildlife managers will receive nearly $70 million for fish and wildlife this year, thanks to the annual disbursement of funds from two key federal programs.

Oregon is set to receive the most, $25,510,834, through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts which help restore game and sportfish through excise taxes on certain hunting, angling and boating purchases.

THE FIRST CHUNKS OF THE SINLAHEKIN WILDLIFE AREA, WASHINGTON’S OLDEST, WAS PURCHASED USING PITTMAN-ROBERTSON ACT FUNDING IN 1939.. (JUSTIN HAUG, WDFW)

Washington will see $22,232,988 and Idaho $21,904,604.

The figures were announced yesterday by Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior.

“Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation,” Zinke said in a press release. “The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works.”

The feds use a formula based on how many fishing and hunting licenses that ODFW, WDFW, IDFG and other agencies sell, as well as land size to disburse the funding.

Texas received the most this year, at $54 million, following by Alaska at $51 million and California at $42 million. 

According to the Department of Interior, since Pittman-Robertson went into effect in 1938 and Dingell-Johnson in 1950, a grand total of $20.2 billion has been sent back to the states.

“In discussions with hunters/anglers, we often mention that their license fees, leveraged with PR and DJ, account for about one-third of WDFW’s operating budget – a significant contribution,” WDFW Policy Director Nate Pamplin told me for a blog I posted here earlier this year on how much of your license revenue actually goes back to the agency.

Zinke made the announcement in Wisconsin, which was also the backdrop of a Tuesday NPR story on declining numbers of hunters, a warning about the impending “demographic wall” as baby boomers age out of the sport and attempts to get other outdoor enthusiasts and the public to pay a fairer share.

A bill in Congress would help fund managing the increasing numbers of endangered species across the country. Introduced in the House of Representatives last December, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act picked up more than two dozen cosponsors from both sides of the aisle earlier this month.

For more on the acts, the umbrella Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and the 29 key words written in 1937 and which that require your fishing and hunting license money to go straight to the DFWs and not state general fund coffers, see this handy-dandy presentation.

2017 Idaho Elk, Whitetail Harvest Up, Mule Deer Down, Hunt Managers Report

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Hunters took more elk and white-tailed deer in 2017 than in 2016, but mule deer harvest was down. With a much milder winter so far, Fish and Game biologists expect the drop in mule deer harvest to be short lived as herds recover from last year’s difficult winter across Central and Southern Idaho.

The 2017 elk harvest was about 17.5 percent above the 10-year average, and despite the dip in the mule deer harvest, 2017’s overall deer harvest was still slightly above the 10-year average.

(IDFG)

Elk harvest

Elk hunters are enjoying some of the best hunting in recent history. Harvest was up by 1,242 elk in 2017 over 2016, which was largely an increase in cow harvest. The bull harvest dropped 341 animals between 2016 and 2017.

Fish and Game increased cow hunting opportunities to reduce herds that are causing damage to private lands in parts of the state.

Idaho’s elk harvest has exceeded 20,000 elk for four straight years, which hasn’t happened since the mid 1990s.

Idaho’s elk herds have grown in recent years thanks in part to mild winters, but elk don’t typically suffer the same fate as mule deer when winter turns colder and snowier.

“Elk are much hardier animals and less susceptible to environmental conditions,” Fish and Game Deer and Elk Coordinator Daryl Meints said. “It has to be a tough winter to kill elk.”

(IDFG)

Deer harvest

The 2017 deer harvest dropped by 11,426 animals compared with 2016, which included a slight increase in white-tailed deer harvested, but 11,574 fewer mule deer harvested.

In response to last year’s hard winter, Fish and Game’s wildlife managers reduced antlerless hunting opportunities for mule deer in 2017 to protect breeding-age does and help the population bounce back more quickly. That resulted in 2,517 fewer antlerless mule deer harvested.

Fish and Game’s mule deer monitoring last winter showed only 30 percent survival for fawns, which was the second-lowest since winter monitoring started 20 years ago. Those male fawns would have been two-points or spikes in the fall had they survived, which typically account for a large portion of the mule deer buck harvest. Harvest statistics showed hunters took 3,709 fewer two points or spikes in 2017 than in 2016.

Mule deer tend to run on a “boom and bust” cycle, and “every few years, you’re going to have a winter when this happens,” Meints said.

However, it tends to be fairly short-lived unless there are consecutive winters with prolonged deep snow and/or frigid temperatures. While mule deer hunting was down, whitetail hunting remains solid and stable, and hunters took more whitetails than mule deer last fall, which is rare for Idaho.

TONEY GRIFFITH BAGGED HER FIRST WHITETAIL LAST NOVEMBER WHILE HUNTING IN NORTH IDAHO. MANAGERS THERE SAY THE 2017 HARVEST WAS NOT FAR BELOW 2015’S RECORD. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The whitetail harvest in 2016 and 2017 hovering just below the all-time harvest record of 30,578 set in 2015.

Northern Idaho had an average winter last year, and whitetails in the Panhandle and Clearwater continue to thrive after a series of mild-to-average winters there.

“We don’t have as much telemetry-collar data like we do with mule deer, but there’s no reason to believe we haven’t had higher-than-normal survival of whitetail fawns and adults, and the harvest data supports that,” Meints said.

Looking ahead

While last winter’s above-average snowpack in Southern and Central Idaho took its toll on fawns, it also provided a lot of moisture that grew lots of food for big game animals. Many animals went into winter in great condition, and so far, weather has been mild compared to last year.

A mild, or average, winter typically grows herds because a larger proportion of the fawns and calves survive, which is a critical time for their passage into adulthood.

Even during the difficult winter last year, more than 90 percent of the radio-collared mule deer does, and more than 95 percent of the radio-collared cow elk survived.

IDFG Looking For Info On Goose Wastage Cases Near Boise

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Fish and Game is asking the public for information regarding two recent cases of wanton waste associated with the dumping of multiple Canada goose, mallard and goldeneye carcasses near Kuna Butte, southwest of Kuna.

(BRIAN JACK, IDFG)

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information in the case and callers can remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 twenty four hours a day.

Responding to a call on January 19th, Fish and Game conservation officer Brian Flatter found nine Canada geese, and two duck carcasses left to waste along Swan Falls Road south of Kuna. On February 5th, fellow conservation officer Brian Jack responded to a second call and found 31 Canada goose carcasses dumped in the same area.

No meat from any of the birds had been taken. Idaho code requires that the breast meat be removed before disposing of a harvested waterfowl carcass.

Evidence was collected at the scene, but the officers would like to speak with anyone who might have information about the wanton waste case. “I’m hopeful someone will make a call and provide information to move this case forward,” Jack said.

In addition to the CAP hotline, persons with information regarding this case may also contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465 weekdays, Idaho State Police at 208-846-7550 on weekends or the Ada County Sheriff’s Office anytime at 208-377-6790.

2018 Northwest Sportsmen’s And Boat Show Schedule

The countdown’s on: The first of 2018’s Northwest fishing, hunting and boat shows is not that far down the road.

SEATTLE BOAT SHOW GOERS PROWL THE AISLES AT THE CENTURYLINK FIELD EVENT CENTER. (SEATTLE BOAT SHOW)

Here’s the schedule for shows being held in January, February, March and April in Idaho, western Montana, Oregon, southern British Columbia and Washington:

Jan. 5-7 Great Rockies Sport Show, Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds, Helena; greatrockiesshow.com

Jan. 10-14 Portland Boat Show, Expo Center, Portland; otshows.com

Jan. 17-21 Vancouver International Boat Show, BC Place, Granville Island; vancouverboatshow.ca

Jan. 19-21 Great Rockies Sport Show, MetraPark ExpoCenter, Billings; greatrockiesshow.com

Jan. 19-21 Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show, TRAC Center, Pasco; shuylerproductions.com

Jan. 20-Feb. 10 Spokane Valley Boat Show at Elephant Boys 2018, Elephant Boys, Spokane Valley, spokanevalleyboatshow.com

Jan. 24-28 Washington Sportsmen’s Show & Sport Fishing Boat Show, Puyallup Fair & Events Center; otshows.com

NORTHWEST SPORTSMEN HEAD FOR THE BLUE GATE ENTRY INTO THE WASHINGTON SPORTSMEN’S SHOW IN PUYALLUP. (O’LOUGHLIN TRADE SHOWS)

Jan. 26-Feb. 3 Seattle Boat Show, CenturyLink Field Event Center and South Lake Union, Bell Harbor, Seattle; seattleboatshow.com

Feb. 2-4 KEZI Eugene Boat & Sportsmen’s Show, Lane County Convention Center, Eugene; exposureshows.com

(O’LOUGHLIN TRADE SHOWS)

Feb. 7-11 Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show & Sport Fishing Boat Show, Expo Center, Portland; otshows.com

Feb. 16-18 Central Washington Sportsmen Show, SunDome, Yakima; shuylerproductions.com

Feb. 16-18 Servpro Douglas County Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show, Douglas County Fairgrounds, Roseburg, Ore.; exposureshows.com

Feb. 16-18 Victoria Boat and Fishing Show, Pearkes Recreational Centre, Victoria, British Columbia; victoriaboatshow.com

Feb. 17-18 Willamette Sportsman Show, Linn County Expo Center, Albany, Oregon; willamettesportsmanshow.com

Feb. 23-25 Great Rockies Sport Show, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, Bozeman, Mont.; greatrockiesshow.com

A HAPPY READER OF NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CHATS WITH JENNIFER STAHL AT OUR BOOTH DURING 2013’S SNOW-STORM-LASHED PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPORTSMEN’S SHOW IN PORTLAND. (BRIAN LULLCIFER)

Feb. 23-25 KDRV Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show, Jackson County Expo, Medford; exposureshows.com

Feb. 23-25 The Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen Show, Town Toyota Center, Wenatchee; shuylerproductions.com

Feb. 24-25 Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show, Oregon State Fairgrounds, Salem; saltwatersportsmensshow.com

(O’LOUGHLIN TRADE SHOWS)

March 1-4 Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show, Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Redmond; otshows.com

March 1-4 Idaho Sportsman Show, Expo Idaho, Boise; idahosportsmanshow.com

March 2-4 BC Boat & Sportsmen’s Show, TRADEX, Abbotsford; bcboatandsportsmenshow.ca

March 9-10 Northwest Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo, Linn County Expo Center, Albany; nwexpo.com

March 15-18 Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds, Spokane; bighornshow.com

(O’LOUGHLIN TRADE SHOWS)

March 16-18 Great Rockies Sport Show, Adams Center, Missoula, Mont.; greatrockiesshow.com

April 19-22 Mid-Columbia Boat Show, Columbia Point Park & Marina, Richland, Washington, midcolumbiaboatshow.com

April 20-22 The Monroe Sportsman Show, Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe, Washington; monroesportsmanshow.com

May 17-20 Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show, Port of Anacortes’ Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes, Washington; anacortesboatandyachtshow.com

‘Free Fishing Season’ Returns To Northwest Starting This Weekend

Early June is “free fishing season” here in the Northwest, a chance to get friends and family without a license out and with all kinds of events and opportunities to take advantage of this weekend and next.

SPRINGERS ARE AMONG THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FREE FISHING DAYS ACROSS THE NORTHWEST. KRIS RONDEAU NABBED THIS BIG ONE ON OREGON’S UMPQUA WHILE ANCHOR FISHING THE LOWER END WITH A GREEN LABEL HERRING BEHIND A SPINNER. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

First up is Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon, June 3-4, which ODFW calls “the perfect weekend to take a friend or family member out fishing, crabbing or clamming.”

The agency has lined up a mess of events all over the state Saturday, and for even more ideas, check out the weekly Recreation Report!

Idaho’s Free Fishing Day is June 10, and Fish and Game will be hosting activities across the Gem State, including its Southwest Region.

Then, on June 10-11, it’s Washington’s turn to host the free fishing.

What to fish for in the Evergreen State? WDFW suggests coastal lings, spinyrays throughout the state and Columbia River shad, among other opportunities, and for even more, check out the June Weekender.

Just remember, even though the fishin’s free, all the usual bag limits and regulations apply.

 

Dworshak Reservoir Fishing Forecast

The following is a press release from Idaho Department Of Fish and Game

Dworshak Reservoir Fishing Forecast

 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 – 3:52 PM MDT

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a winter like this past one. But spring is here, the weather is warming and anglers are getting out on Dworshak Reservoir to chase bluebacks, smallies, or whatever else may bite.

Dworshak is one of the most popular fisheries in the Clearwater Region, and here’s how the fishery is shaping up.

Kokanee

Last season was a great year for kokanee anglers. There were more kokanee than typical, but of average size. A higher than average number of two year old fish resulted in one of the highest catch rates documented in the last 30 years. There was also a record number of larger, three year old fish.

Catches like the one pictured below were common for several hours of fishing. This year there could be a typical number of kokanee, but of above average size.  We expect there will be approximately 210,000 two year old kokanee, which is very close to the average two year old fish abundance since 2000.

In addition, about three percent of the two year old fish from last year could carry over as three year old fish, which would be a little over 10,000 fish. If this is the case, anglers could expect to catch one larger three year-old fish in each limit of 25.

One unknown this year is how many kokanee were entrained – lost through the dam. High entrainment would mean lower than average survival, and fewer fish than expected. Heavy snowpack resulted in the Corps of Engineers releasing high volumes of water out of the dam this spring.

While we did see evidence of a couple of entrainment events in late April, they appear to have been short in duration. We won’t know for sure until our surveys in late July, but at this point it appears we’ll still have plenty of fish for a decent fishery.

While on Dworshak in early May, we marked very few fish on our sounder and the anglers we spoke to were having a hard time locating fish as well. While this may indicate a lack of fish in the reservoir, we noticed what few fish we marked were holding very shallow. Surface temperatures at the time were ideal for kokanee, meaning that many of the fish could have been holding close to the surface, where they are difficult to impossible to find with down looking sonar.

This happened last April as well, when the fish seemed to disappear for about a month, until water temperatures warmed enough to force the fish back down in the water column. Any fish that haven’t been flushed out of the reservoir this spring will be much easier to locate as the water warms.

Overall, while kokanee numbers may be down from last year, size is on the increase. Most fish are already above the long-term average of 10 inches, and they should be just starting to grow for the year. We have already measured fish over 12 inches, including one that was brought to a check station that was 14 inches. With good growth, we could see fish averaging 12 inches by summer.

Smallmouth

If you’re not a kokanee fisherman, there are still plenty of reasons to fish Dworshak. Bass fishing has been good the last two years, and this year is shaping up to be more of the same.

Water temperatures have been cooler this spring, compared to the last two years, and larger fish moved into shallow water on the lower end of the reservoir by late April. As a result, the fishing has been slow, but the fish caught have been larger than average.

The smallmouth we checked in April averaged over 15 inches long, with some over 18 inches. As the water continues to warm, the larger fish will move into deeper water and smaller fish will move up along the banks. As this happens, catch rates will pick up, but average size will go down. Water temperatures have been much cooler on the upper end of the reservoir, so these movements will be happening over the next few weeks.

Even with cooler temperatures and some tougher angling conditions this spring, some dandy smallmouth continue to be caught. Anglers fishing a tournament at the end of April did quite well, with most anglers returning with limits of medium to large fish.

2017 Idaho Spring Turkey Prospects: ‘Fair-to-good’ Numbers

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Spring turkey hunting outlook: fair to good; general season opens April 15

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 – 11:46 AM MDT

 

Winter decreased some flocks in southern Idaho, but Panhandle and Clearwater should have good hunting

General turkey season opens Saturday, April 15, and you can see units that have general hunts in our turkey hunting rules , as well as details about the seasons. Hunters will find most general hunting opportunity in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southwest Regions, and beyond that most areas are limited to controlled hunts. 

(Idaho Fish and Game)

Higher-than-normal snowfall in much of the state likely decreased turkey populations in some areas, but hunters should still find fair-to-good turkey populations depending on the region. 

“In Southwest and Eastern Idaho we anticipate populations to be down based on field reports, turkey populations remain good in the Clearwater and Panhandle regions,” said Jeff Knetter, upland and migratory bird coordinator. 

Knetter explained turkeys typically cope with winter differently than big game. They typically seek out feed from agriculture operations, such as feed lots and feed lines for livestock. 

In areas where that’s not an option, they can have difficulty surviving winter if they’re unable to get natural food off the ground. Fish and Game in cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation fed some birds during winter the Cambridge, Council and Garden Valley areas to help them get through winter. 

Hunters are also warned that many areas have experienced flooding during late winter and early spring, so they should double check access to their favorite hunting spots. They might also encounter lingering snowdrifts that block them from their hunting spot. 

turkeys, spring, Southwest Region

(Photo by Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game)

Fish and Game’s regional wildlife managers give an overview of what’s happening with turkey hunting in their regions. 

Panhandle Region

Turkey season in the Panhandle is looking quite good despite the snow that accumulated in the lower elevations this winter. Wintering turkeys are typically associated with agricultural land, often around livestock feeding operations, so food is usually available.  

Although the region had at near-normal winter snowpack, the winter did not begin in earnest until mid-January and snowfall in December and early January was below normal, so turkeys were not stressed for a long period. Things are now opening up and we’re seeing a very nice spring greenup due to the abundant moisture. 

A challenge for turkey hunters this year might be access due to poor road conditions due to flooding, but there should be abundant turkeys. During the spring season, hunters may purchase and use up to two turkey tags; only toms may be harvested in spring. As always, remember to respect private property, and ask first before you hunt there. 

Wayne Wakkinen, Panhandle Region Wildlife Manager

Clearwater Region

Last fall was warm and wet and early winter and snow pack was below average. This winter has seen what would be historically more normal snowpack, but valley snow levels were above normal. Despite this, turkeys in the Clearwater appear to be doing well. Snow at lower elevations came off relatively early and turkeys have had the advantage of spring green up.

The largest challenge to Clearwater turkey hunters this year will also be access. Warm weather and rain on snow events have caused flooding, road washouts and slides. Additionally, snow is gone at lower elevations, but some hunters will find it difficult accessing some valley hunting spots because of snow drifts on roads at higher elevations.  

Clay Hickey, Clearwater Region Wildlife Manager

Southwest Region

Turkey populations have been increasing steadily the last several years. However, this past winter was hard on turkeys in places experiencing prolonged deep snows. Turkeys along the lower Boise River appear to be doing well. Unit 38 and a portion of Unit 32 are controlled hunts and hunting in low country along waterways often requires landowner permission. The Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area in Unit 38 is open to turkey hunting for controlled-hunt tag holders. 

Units 33 and 39 are general hunts with small turkey populations scattered throughout.

In the northern part of the region, the National Wild Turkey Federation provided feed to private landowners in several areas, which helped turkeys come through the harsh winter pretty well. Access will be limited at higher elevations until sometime in May.  

There are turkey populations at Cecil D. Andrus Wildlife Management Area near Brownlee Reservoir. Motorized travel is restricted on the Andrus WMA until May 1, but walk-in hunting is open.

Hunters can also find Access Yes! properties with turkey hunting opportunities near Indian Valley, and north of New Meadows. 

Rick Ward and Regan Berkely, Southwest Region Wildlife Managers

Magic Valley Region

The region has a limited number of turkeys in Unit 54, with most residing on the west side of the unit. Turkeys are limited to controlled hunts only in the region, and normal survival is anticipated after the winter. 

Daryl Meints, Magic Valley Region Wildlife Manager. 

Upper Snake Region

In general, the Upper Snake has small populations, and the bulk of these turkeys are associated with the South Fork of the Snake River and Snake River riparian areas. Those areas likely had some winter mortality to further depress these limited populations. I would anticipate turkey densities to be slightly below what we have experienced over the last number of years. Hunting is limited to controlled hunts across the region.

Curtis Hendricks, Upper Snake Region Wildlife Manager

Southeast Region

The region has severe winter conditions from late December through March, and anecdotal reports indicate that some winter mortality on turkeys occurred in isolated areas. We anticipate turkey densities to be lower than in previous years. However, turkey numbers were extremely high this past year, and despite some winter mortality, there should still be robust turkey populations for hunters to enjoy. During the early period of the spring season, hunters might find turkey distributions to be slightly different due to lingering snow at higher elevations. 

Zach Lockyer, Southeast Region Wildlife Manager

Salmon Region

The region has low turkey densities, about 400 in Custer County and about 125 in Lemhi County. There are very limited controlled hunts for those birds.  The region likely had some winter mortality to further depress these limited populations and hunt success. Where the turkeys occupy lower elevations in the region, access will not be a problem due to snow.  

Greg Painter, Salmon Region Wildlife Manager