Tag Archives: idaho

‘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