Tag Archives: idaho

2018 Idaho Fall Hunting Prospects ‘Good’ For Elk, Whitetails, Better For Muleys

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

Hunters can look forward to a good fall season in 2018, with similar elk and white-tailed deer populations as last year and likely more mule deer in many areas.

Despite a setback in 2017 following a hard winter that mostly affected mule deer, most of Idaho’s deer and elk herds and harvests have been at or near historic highs in recent years and well above long-term averages. Hunters should see similar numbers this fall.

Let’s look at some figures to back that up.

In 2017, hunters took 22,751 elk, and they have killed more than 20,000 elk annually since 2014. That’s a significant statistic because before 2014, elk harvests were well below 20,000 for seven years. (The 10-year average from 2008-17 is 18,865 elk).

The last extended streak of elk harvests above 20,000 was from 1988 to 1996, which were historic high harvests in Idaho that topped out at 28,000 in 1994.

Whitetails are on a similar trend. Hunters took 26,502 whitetails in 2017, another 26,354 in 2016 following an all-time record of 30,578 whitetails in 2015. The last four years have been the highest consecutive years on record.

But mule deer hunters have not been as fortunate. A combination of a tough winter in 2016-17 and cutbacks in antlerless tags to protect breeding age does dropped the harvest by nearly a third from 37,070 in 2016 to 25,496 last year, but hunters should expect to see a modest increase this fall.

Here’s a more detailed look.

sawtaooth_elk_cc vicschendel

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Vic Schendel

Elk

Idaho elk hunters are having some of the best hunting of all time, and there’s no reason the current streak can’t eventually compete with all-time highs based on recent harvests and trends.

Word has gotten out that Idaho’s elk hunting is on an upswing, and part of the attraction is a  combination of readily available tags sold over the counter and healthy elk populations. Elk tag sales have increased for the last five years and exceeded 100,000 annually since 2015. Prior to 2015, tag sales had not topped 100,000 in 16 years. Nonresident tags sold out in 2017, and they are selling faster this year, and will likely sell out again.

The 2017 elk harvest ranked second-highest in the last decade with 1,242 more elk than in 2016. It also ranks sixth all-time, and it’s 30 percent above the 50-year average elk harvest.

Here’s how the 2017 elk harvest breaks down:

  • Total: 22,751
  • Overall success rate: 24.4 percent
  • Bulls: 11,650
  • Cows: 11,101
  • Elk taken during general hunts: 13,277 (18.4 success rate)
  • Elk taken during controlled hunts: 9,473 (44.6 percent success rate)

Elk populations remain strong because they’re less susceptible to winter kill than deer, so they can continue to rebuild herds from year to year. Last winter, statewide calf survival was 66 percent, and the long term average 55 to 65 percent.

While Idaho is reliving some of its glory years for elk hunting, the location of the animals has changed. During record harvests in the 1990s, Central Idaho’s backcountry and wilderness areas were major contributors. They are less so these days, but other areas have picked up the slack.

There’s been a shift in populations from the wilderness and backcountry areas toward the interface between forest lands, agriculture and rural areas.

Harvest results show this. The Panhandle is currently the top elk zone in the state, and the top 10 zones include the Weiser River, Pioneer, Boise River, McCall, Smokey/Bennett and Salmon zones, all of which have major highways running through them.

Those top-producing zones provide accessible opportunities for many hunters, but also have unique challenges because there’s often a mix of public and private lands where the elk roam.

Elk herds are doing so well in some zones, such as the Weiser River and Pioneer zones, that those herds are over objectives and Fish and Game has increased cow hunting opportunities to thin the herds.

For new elk hunters, or experienced hunters looking for a new place to hunt, Idaho’s elk populations are likely to remain healthy in the foreseeable future, so now’s a good time to learn a zone where there are abundant herds.

Idaho offers a variety of over-the-counter tags for elk hunters. Out of 28 elk hunting zones, only two are limited to only controlled hunts, although many zones have limits on the number of tags available.

Hunters should research each zone and may want to look beyond the general, any-weapon seasons to find additional opportunity. Many archery and muzzleloader hunts provide antlerless, or either-sex hunting, and also options for early and late-season hunts.

top ten elk_graph

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Glenna Gomez, Idaho Fish and Game
17_rog_buck

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Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game

Mule deer

Mule deer hunting had also been on an upswing in recent years, but a tough winter across most of southern Idaho in 2016-17 winter dropped the population, which also contributed to a drop of 11,574 in the mule deer harvest between 2016 and 2017.

But a few things should be noted. The drop in doe harvest accounted for 22 percent of the difference between those two years, which was intentional to protect the does that will hopefully continue rebuilding the herds in coming years. Most of those protections remain in place.

Deer tag sales in 2017 fell by 7,323 tags compared with 2016. If those tags had been purchased, and those hunters matched the 2017 success rate for mule deer, it would have added another 2,123 deer to the harvest. That’s assuming they were all mule deer hunters because success rates for whitetails is significantly higher (see below for details about whitetails).

While the mule deer harvest dropped by 31 percent between 2016 and 2017, the success rate between the two years only dropped by 8 percentage points, 37 percent success in 2016 vs. 29 percent in 2017.

Here’s the breakdown of the 2017 mule deer harvest:

  • Total: 25,946
  • Overall success rate: 29 percent
  • Bucks: 20,275
  • Does: 5,221
  • Mule deer taken during general hunts: 18,588 (24.5 percent success rate)
  • Mule deer taken during controlled hunts: 6,909 (56.4 percent success rate)

Mule deer herds had been growing leading up to 2017 with five consecutive years of above-average winter fawn survival until the 2016-17 winter, which had only 30-percent fawn survival (based on radio-collared fawns) and was the second-lowest winter survival since fawn monitoring started in 1998.

Fawn survival vastly improved this year. The 2017-18 winter survival nearly doubled from the previous winter’s 30 percent survival to 57 percent last winter, which is right at the long-term average and should mean more young bucks in the herds during fall.

That’s the age group that saw a sharp drop in the harvest, accounting for 10,171 mule deer in 2016, but only 6,462 in the 2017 harvest.

Mule deer fawn survival rates last winter were also unusually uniform in the seven monitoring areas spread across the state with the lowest coming in at 45 percent and the highest at 66 percent.

Returning to an average fawn survival rate could easily bump the 2018 harvest by several thousand young bucks, however, there will still be fewer 2.5-year old bucks, many of which perished in the 2016-17 winter or were taken by hunters in 2017.

The Southeast Region and the McCall/Weiser areas were hardest hit during the severe 2016-17 winter, while other areas had closer-to-normal fawn survival, but still below average. Areas that weren’t hit as hard are likely to recover more quickly.

top10muledeer_graph

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Glenna Gomez, Idaho Fish and Game
whitetail buck

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Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game

White-tailed deer

Whitetails have long-been a favorite quarry for hunters in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, where they account for the vast majority of the harvest. But whitetails have also taken on statewide significance in recent years because their harvest has increased and closely matched mule deer, which has traditionally far outnumbered whitetails in the harvest.

Part of the reason for the shift is stable and abundant whitetail herds, lots of general season hunting opportunities that include long seasons and liberal regulations with either-sex hunting. Those factors also contribute to a higher success rate than mule deer.

Let’s breakdown the 2017 whitetail harvest:

  • Total: 26,502
  • Success rate: 43.9 percent
  • Bucks: 15,895
  • Does: 10,607
  • Bucks five points or larger (on one antler): 3,384
  • General season harvest: 23,312 (42.7 percent success rate)
  • Controlled hunt harvest: 3,189 (54.6 percent success rate)

Unlike mule deer, Fish and Game does not radio collar whitetail fawns and does each winter and monitor their survival, or do other annual population surveys for whitetails. Biologists rely on other data to judge the health of the population, including harvest data.

Harvest has been over 26,000 for the last four years, and the number of five-points in the harvest has been consistent since 2007.

Whitetail hunting is meeting nearly all of the department’s objectives for the number of hunters, hunter days, buck harvest, and percentage of five points. The only exceptions are the Selway/Middle Fork areas are below objectives for hunt numbers and days, and southern Idaho is below objective for five-points, but southern Idaho is not considered a major focus for whitetail hunters.

Idaho has not seen any significant outbreaks of whitetail diseases in recent years, and now outbreaks have been detected this year.

All signs point to another good year for whitetail hunters with lots of opportunity and the chance to get a bigger buck for those who put in the time and effort.

Whitetail hunters should be aware of rule changes in Unit 10A in 2018, which includes a shortened season (Oct. 10 through Nov. 20), and hunters can not use a second deer tag in that unit.

top10whitetaildeer_graph

Creative Commons Licence
Glenna Gomez, Idaho Fish and Game

 

To learn more about harvest statistics, places to hunt, rules and more information, see the Hunt Planner.

 

‘Disheartening’ — Walleye Caught At Lake Cascade, IDFG Reports

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

An angler fishing for smallmouth bass and perch on Lake Cascade near Crown Point earlier this week instead reeled in an adult walleye, measuring more than 19 inches in length. Fish and Game regional fisheries manager Dale Allen positively identified the fish on Wednesday, August 22.

LAKE CASCADE FISHERY MANAGERS SAYS ITS “DISHEARTENING” THAT WALLEYE HAVE BEEN PLACED IN POPULAR LAKE CASCADE. tHEY SAY THEY WILL PULL RESOURCES FROM ELSEWHERE TO GET ON TOP OF THE UNWANTED SPECIES. (VIA IDFG)

The fish was illegally stocked in the reservoir and is the first-ever confirmed report of a walleye in Lake Cascade. Because of the illegal stocking and the threat walleye pose to Cascade’s and other downstream fisheries, Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a cash reward for information regarding this criminal case. Call the CAP hotline anytime at 1-800-632-5999.

Idaho has just a few walleye fisheries, all established by Fish and Game, and all in isolated reservoirs. Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir in south central Idaho is one example; no outlets from the reservoir exist that might allow walleye to escape to other waters. It is because of their potential threat to existing fisheries that walleye have not been more widely stocked in other Idaho waters.

The Department receives angler requests to establish new walleye populations every year. For the reasons noted, these requests are courteously denied. Unfortunately, some self-serving anglers are not willing to take no for an answer, instead taking matters into their own hands. “This illegal introduction was carefully thought out,” Allen noted. “The closest walleye fishery is more than 200 miles from Cascade. To survive the extended transport time, this fish – and possibly others – would have required clean, cold, aerated water for a number of hours.”

The Department may not know the extent or severity of this illegal stocking for several years. Because of the high stakes, resources will be diverted from other projects to expand fish sampling in Lake Cascade later this year to see if more adult walleye are present and to determine whether reproduction has occurred.

“This incident is particularly disheartening for Cascade,” Allen said. “Fish and Game spent years rebuilding a world-class perch fishery, and the reservoir is also full of big trout and trophy smallmouth bass. Adding another top predator like walleye will almost certainly impact these other sport fish.”

The negative ramifications of this illegal stocking extend well beyond the shores of Lake Cascade. With thousands of acre feet of irrigation water released from the reservoir on an annual basis, it’s no stretch that walleye could move through the Payette River system into Brownlee Reservoir and the Hells Canyon section of the Snake River.

Wild, Scenic And Fishy

This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Congressional act that now protects and enhances 3,000 miles of salmon-, steelhead- and trout-bearing rivers in the Northwest.

By Andy Walgamott

While fishing along the banks of Northwest rivers over the years, I’ve always kept an eye out for heart-shaped rocks, but I never found a good one till this past April.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I was on the Sauk, hoping to hook wild winter steelhead after federal overseers finally approved a state season, the first time the Washington Cascades river had been open in spring since 2009. It was a glorious day, and I couldn’t have been happier to be back on the water at that time of year.

John Day River, Central Oregon; 248.6 miles of designated wild, scenic and recreational river. Chinook, steelhead, redband rainbow trout, bull trout, lamprey, smallmouth bass. (BOB WICK, BLM)

As I tried my luck below a riffle, two drift boaters worked a slot above it, and when they pulled their plugs in and headed downstream, I bushwhacked my way upstream to the stretch to hit it with my jigs and spoons.

Lower Klickitat River, Washington; 10.8 miles designated as recreational river. Spring, summer, fall Chinook, coho, summer and winter steelhead, rainbow trout, lamprey. (JASON BROOKS)

That’s when I stumbled onto the big, smooth granite heart. Pegging its base with cobbles, I propped it up on a boulder for a photograph next to one of my favorite rivers.

Grande Ronde River, Oregon; 43.8 miles designated as wild and recreational river. Spring Chinook, coho, summer steelhead, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass. (CASEY CRUM)

THE SAUK’S BRAWNY wild winters eluded me that day, but it was still great to be on several of the 12,754 miles of streams that comprise our National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, created by Congress way back in 1968 and signed into law by President Johnson.

North Umpqua River, Oregon; 33.8 miles designated as recreational river. Spring Chinook, summer steelhead, rainbow trout. (BOB WICK, BLM)

Though coming out of an era of increased environmental concerns – the Clean Air and Wilderness Acts preceded it and it was followed by the Clean Water, Marine Mammal Protection and Endangered Species Acts – it takes a notably less heavy-handed approach in its implementation.

Bruneau River, Idaho; 39.3 miles designated as wild and recreational river. Redband rainbow trout. (BOB WICK, BLM)

The act aims to “(protect) and (enhance) the values that caused [rivers like the Sauk] to be designated” through the “voluntary stewardship by landowners and river users and through regulation and programs of federal, state, local, or tribal governments,” according to Rivers.gov. “It does not prohibit development or give the federal government control over private property.”

Bruneau River, Idaho; 39.3 miles designated as wild and recreational river. Redband rainbow trout. (RANDY KING)

There are wild, scenic and recreational rivers in 40 states, and some of the fishiest in the Northwest are included.

Lochsa River, Idaho; 90-plus miles designated as recreational river. Spring Chinook, summer steelhead, bull, cutthroat and rainbow trout, mountain whitefish. (PAUL ISHII)

In Oregon, there’s all or portions of the Chetco, Crooked and its North Fork, Deschutes, Elk, Grande Ronde, Illinois, Imnaha, John Day, Klamath, McKenzie, Metolius, North Umpqua, Owyhee, Rogue, Smith, Snake and Wenaha, among many, many more.

Crooked River, Oregon; 17.8 miles designated as recreational river. Redband rainbow trout, mountain whitefish. (BOB WICK, BLM)

In fact, Oregon just might have the highest percentage of rivers of any state: 2 percent, 1,916.7 miles, of the Beaver State’s 110,994 river miles are wild and scenic.

Rogue River, Oregon; 84.5 miles designated as wild, scenic and recreational river. Spring and fall Chinook, coho, summer and winter steelhead, coastal cutthroat and rainbow trout, lamprey. (THOMAS O’KEEFE, RIVERS.GOV)

In Idaho, 891 miles, including much of the Salmon and its Middle Fork, the Middle Fork Clearwater, upper St. Joe and Owyhee, and Bruneau are listed.

Owyhee River, Oregon; 120 miles designated as wild in Oregon (continues in Idaho). Redband rainbow trout. THOMAS O’KEEFE, RIVERS.GOV)

In sharp contrast, only 197 stream miles in Washington have been designated – unusual when you consider that it’s the wettest state in the West.

Skagit River, Washington; 158.5 miles of designated scenic and recreational rivers. Spring, summer and fall Chinook, coho, pink salmon, winter steelhead, bull, rainbow and sea-run cutthroat trout. (CHASE GUNNELL)

Where listed rivers occur throughout most of Oregon, the Evergreen State’s are limited to the Cascades and include the upper and lower ends of the White Salmon, the lower 11 miles of the Klickitat, and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and its tributary, the Pratt.

BUT AT THE northern end of the mountain range is one of Washington’s best watersheds.

I don’t know how many times state district fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull has answered my question about why the Skagit system is so productive for steelhead, Chinook, bull trout and other stocks by pointing to its headwaters.

North Cascades National Park; the Ross Lake National Recreation Area; the Glacier Peak, Henry M. Jackson and Noisy-Diobsud Wildernesses; the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Out of all that protected federal land flows the wild and scenic Sauk, Suiattle, Skagit and Cascade Rivers and Illabot Creek.

It took many more questions of Barkdull to begin to understand that what looks like a mess – all the logjams, braids and big sunbaked cobble bars on the Sauk – is actually a good thing for fish.

They show a river largely unshackled by riprap and dikes, and allowed to meander as it has since for eons, a sign of a healthy river.

That not many people, farms and infrastructure line its banks make that more possible here, but I’d love it if in another 50 years, when the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act turns 100, more than just one-quarter of 1 percent of the nation’s streams are part of the system.

Mollala River, Oregon; 23 miles proposed as wild and scenic river. Spring Chinook, coho, winter steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow trout, lamprey. (BOB WICK, BLM)

‘Free Fishing Season’ Arrives In Northwest With Lots Of Learning, Angling Ops

Oregon kicks off “free fishing season” in the Northwest this Saturday and Sunday, while Washington and Idaho hold their festivities on June’s second weekend.

It’s not only a great way to get lapsed anglers — yo, Uncle Terry, I’ll be by early to head to the lake! — on the water but features a ton of kid- and family-friendly events.

MAEVE, AGE 7, WITH HER FIRST FISH CAUGHT WITH THE HELP OF AN ODFW ANGLING EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR AT TIMBER LINN PARK POND IN ALBANY DURING AN EARLIER FREE FISHING DAY EVENT THIS YEAR. (ODFW)

Here are what ODFW, IDFG and WDFW are planning for their state’s respective free fishing days:

THE FOLLOWING ARE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASES

Fishing is free June 2-3 in Oregon
Learn to fish at events statewide

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3.

During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions.

“Free Fishing Weekends are a great opportunity for friends and families to get out and enjoy a day or two of fishing,” said Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager. “Trout, warmwater fish, ocean fishing, crabbing and clamming are just some of the great opportunities available.”

Look for the best opportunities in ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday.

Oregon State Parks are also free to visit on June 2-3, with day-use parking fees waived both days and free camping on Saturday, June 2 (an $8 reservation is required to guarantee a camping spot).

ODFW and partners are also hosting a number of fishing events around the state. Volunteer angler education instructors will be loaning out fishing gear and giving tips on how to catch and clean fish at most events. For more details and contact information for these events, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/2018-free-fishing-days-and-events

Saturday, June 2

  • Albany, Timber Linn Park Pond, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Alsea, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Ashland, Hyatt Lake-Mountain View Shelter, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Baker City, 203 Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Camp Sherman, Wizard Falls Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Chiloquin, Klamath Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Clatskanie, Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Detroit, Detroit Lake/Hoover Boat Launch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Eugene, Alton Baker Canoe Canal, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Gervais, St Louis Ponds, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gold Beach, Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m.-noon
  • Hammond, Coffenbury Lake-Fort Stevens State Park, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Hebo, Hebo Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Heppner, Cutsforth Pond, 8-11 a.m.
  • Klamath Falls, Lake of the Woods Resort, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Lakeside, Eel Lake/Tugman Park, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Oakridge, Willamette Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Otis, Salmon River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-noon
  • Prairie City, McHaley Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Rockaway, Nedona Pond, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Selma, Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Silverton, Silverton Marine Park, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (required to park offsite, see details)
  • Sunriver, Caldera Springs, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Sutherlin, Cooper Creek Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Tillamook, Trask River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Toledo, Olalla Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sunday, June 3

  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Port Orford, Arizona Pond, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reedsport, Lake Marie, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Under statute set by the Oregon State Legislature, ODFW can offer eight days of free fishing each year. The other remaining days of free fishing in Oregon coming up this year are listed on page 16 of the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations and are Sept. 1-2 (Sat.-Sun. of Labor Day Weekend) and Nov. 23-24 (the two days after Thanksgiving).

Free Fishing Weekend events in Southern Oregon

ROSEBURG, Ore – Oregonian’s can fish, crab and clam for free during Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-3. Events held around Southern Oregon give families an opportunity to try their hand at landing a trout.

The following events held are Saturday, June 2 unless noted:

Coos County:

  • Eel Lake at Tugman State Park, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. At a series of stations, kids will learn how to identify fish, tie knots, and cast along with fishing courtesy and water safety. Kids 12 and under can have the chance to catch trout out of a net pen. Lunch is provided.

Curry County:

  • Arizona Pond, Sunday, June 3 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. The annual Elk River Hatchery free fishing event moved to Arizona Pond located 15 miles south of Port Orford on Highway 101 across from Prehistoric Gardens. This event is open for youth age 17 and under and is hosted by Elk River Hatchery and Oregon State Parks. Rods, reels, bait and tackle will be provided for the event, along with ice and bags so kids can take their fish home. Volunteers can help young anglers and Port Orford Rotary is providing lunch and refreshments. A raffle will be held at noon. ODFW is stocking 800 legal-sized and 300 trophy trout. Information: David Chambers, 541-332-7025.
  • Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. This event is for kids 13 and younger. Sign-up for prizes begins at 8 a.m., and the event features lunch, prize drawings, and loaner fishing equipment. Adults are encouraged to help their young ones fish. Help will also be on hand from Curry Anadromous Fishermen, Oregon South Coast Fishermen, ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service who are all sponsoring the event. Libby Pond is about eight miles up North Bank Rd., Gold Beach.

Douglas County:

  • Cooper Creek, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This popular event has a kiddie pond stocked with trout for kids up to 12 years old, loaner rods and reels, casting lessons, and a fish cleaning station. Once kids go through an education station, they get a ticket for raffle drawings. Free hot dogs and Pepsi. ODFW is stocking 2,000 larger sized trout just before the event.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This fishing derby is for kids 17 and younger. Check-in begins at 6 a.m. at the resort’s Marina. There will be prizes for biggest fish by different age classes so kids should check in their trout for measurement at the Marina by 2 p.m. There will be door prizes and hot dogs in front of the resort after check-out concludes.
  • Lake Marie, Sunday, June 3 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. for kids 14 and under. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Rods and reels will be available, along with help for first-time anglers. Kids can enter a casting contest and get a bounty for picking up litter. Kids can also try out Gyotaku, or fish printing. Hot dogs and soda are free to kids with a nominal charge for adults to help pay for next year’s event. ODFW recently stocked 2,000 larger sized trout for the event.

Jackson County:

  • Fish Lake, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The BLM and USFS will have rods, tackle and bait on a first come, first served basis.

Josephine County:

  • Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Josephine County’s only Free Fishing Weekend event is sponsored by the Middle Rogue Steelheaders and ODFW’s Angler Education program. Rods and reels are available for loan and bait is provided. There’s a fishing contest for the biggest fish caught by youth, donated prizes, a free BBQ 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and a 50/50 raffle.

All other regulations apply including bag limit and size restrictions. People who already have a combined tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut are encouraged to use it as it provides data for fish managers.

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

June 9 is Free Fishing Day

Saturday, June 9th is Free Fishing Day, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites veteran and novice anglers of all ages, residents and nonresidents alike, to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license. Though fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

“Free fishing day provides a great opportunity for novices to give fishing a try and perhaps develop it into a life-long pursuit,” Fish and Game regional fish manager Joe Kozfkay said. “Parents are encouraged to bring their children out for a day of fun fishing excitement.”

Lack of fishing experience is no excuse. At special locations around the southwest region, equipment will be available for use and fishing experts will be on hand to help novice anglers learn the ins and outs of fishing. In addition, all these locations will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout prior to the special day. Look for the event nearest you and Take a Kid Fishing.

For more information regarding Free Fishing Day, contact the Fish and Game McCall office (634-8137) or the Nampa office (465-8465).

Free Fishing Day Events in the Southwest Region – Saturday, June 9, 2018
Note: pay special attention to event times. Check the Fish and Game website (https://IDFG.idaho.gov) for schedule additions and or changes.

Atwood Pond (Payette) – Registration begins at 8:00am

Hosted by Safari Club International

Council (Ol’ McDonald) Pond – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Fischer Pond (Cascade) – 10:00am – 2:00pm

Hosted by Lake Cascade State Park and Idaho Fish and Game

Kimberland Meadows Pond (New Meadows) – 9:00am – 1:00pm  

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Kleiner Pond (Meridian) – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Southwest Idaho RC&D Council, Micron Technology and Idaho Fish and Game

Legacy Park Pond (Mt. Home) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Idaho Fish and Game Reservists

Lowman (10-mile) Ponds – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Lowman Ranger District), Sourdough Lodge and Idaho Fish and Game

McDevitt Pond (Boise) – 8:00am – Noon

Hosted by the Boise Police Association and Idaho Fish and Game

Northwest Passage Pond (McCall) – 9:00am – Noon

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

Rotary Park Pond (Caldwell ) – 9:30am – Noon

Hosted by Caldwell Rotary and the City of Caldwell

Sawyers Pond (Emmett) – 9:00am – Noon
Hosted by the Gem County Recreation District, Boise National Forest (Emmett Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Visitor Center Pond (Idaho City) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Idaho City Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) – 8:00am – Noon
Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

OLYMPIA – Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license on “Free Fishing Weekend,” scheduled for June 9-10.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state.

Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries. Nor will they need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted.

Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). A Discover Pass will also not be required on Washington State Parks lands throughout the weekend, but will be required on DNR lands both days.

“If you haven’t fished in Washington, or want to introduce fishing to someone new to the sport, this is the weekend to get out there,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW inland fish program manager.

Options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:

  • Trout in lowland lakes, and in the many rivers opening to trout fishingJune 2 throughout the state
  • Lingcod on the coast.
  • Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout Washington.
  • Shad on the Columbia River.
  • Hatchery steelhead on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

New anglers should check online for the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage (http://wdfw.wa.gov). The site provides details on lowland lake fishing, high lake fishing and marine area opportunities. Catchable trout stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the weekly stocking report on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

For those who want even more fishing advice, the Fish Washington video page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/videos) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.

Anglers who take part in free fishing weekend can also participate in the department’s 2018 Trout Fishing Derby and redeem green tags from fish caught over the weekend. Interested anglers should check for details online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby.

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid through June at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. In addition, the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/mobile_app.html), is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, it’s still important to check the regulations for other rules such as size limits, bag limits, catch record card requirements and area closures that will still be in effect, said Thiesfeld.

Catch record cards, required for some species, are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.

 

 

Idaho Commission OKs Issuing 1 Grizzly Bear Permit For Fall Hunt

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

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners on Thursday, May 10 approved a hunting season for grizzly bears in a portion of eastern Idaho with one tag offered.

WITH GRIZZLY BEARS IN THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE ECOSYSTEM — THIS ONE WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE PARK’S HAYDEN VALLEY — LONG SINCE RECOVERED, IDAHO FISH AND GAME MANAGERS WILL OFFER A SINGLE TAG TO HUNT ONE IN THE GEM STATE, THOUGH OFFICIALS CAUTION THE SEASON MAY BE CHALLENGED IN COURT, IN WHICH CASE THE TAGHOLDER’S MONEY WOULD BE REFUNDED. (NPS)

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has met federal recovery criteria since the early 2000s. The state of Idaho and its professional wildlife managers played a key part in this population’s recovery, in partnership with other states, and federal, tribal and local governments. In 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the population off of the Endangered Species Act list, and Idaho will continue to responsibly manage the population in coordination with Wyoming and Montana now that federal protections are lifted.

The conservation strategy for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly population includes hunting as a management tool when the population is more than 600 bears.

The 2017 population estimate is 718 grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone “demographic monitoring area” (DMA), which encompasses suitable grizzly habitat in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The DMA includes all of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but no hunting will occur in either national park. The population in the DMA has been stable over the last decade with annual population estimates in the monitoring area ranging between 694 and 757 grizzlies.

Idaho grizzly bear hunt

Fish and Game will offer one tag for the opportunity to hunt a grizzly bear in a controlled hunt, random drawing limited to Idaho residents. Application period will be June 15 through July 15. Resident hunters who applied for any other controlled hunt in 2018 may also apply for the grizzly bear hunt.

The hunt will run Sept. 1 through Nov. 15. No baiting or hound hunting will be allowed for the grizzly bear hunt. Grizzly bears, like bull moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat, limit tags to successful hunters “once in a lifetime.”

Because actual implementation of the grizzly hunt may be subject to a pending lawsuit in federal court, hunters applying should beware that the hunt could be canceled, in which case the pre-paid tag fees would be refunded, but the controlled hunt application fees would not.

How is the number of bears available for harvest determined?

Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have agreed to manage the Yellowstone grizzly bear population in the DMA between 600 and 748 bears, which corresponds to the average population from 2002 to 2014. No hunting will occur if the population is below 600 bears in the DMA.

Scientists have determined how much mortality on male and female bears can occur while managing for a sustainable population. Hunting can occur if the measured and predicted annual grizzly mortality is less than the total allowable mortality in any given year. Hunting opportunity is determined by subtracting the known and predicted annual mortality from the total allowable mortality for the population.

Why a single tag?

Idaho, Montana and Wyoming allocate available hunting opportunity based on the proportion of land each state has within the DMA (excluding Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks where no hunting is allowed).

Idaho has 8 percent of the land in the DMA, and in 2018, 8 percent of the total allowable mortality available for hunting represents one male bear.

Avoiding female bears

Fish and Game biologists will work with the person who receives the tag to ensure the hunter understands rules, hunt boundaries and how to distinguish male bears from females.

At any given time, roughly half the female bears will be with cubs or juvenile bears, none of which are legal to harvest under the rules of the hunt. That means about 75 percent of the unaccompanied adult bears are male, and the identification training provided by the department will help the hunter avoid harvesting a female bear.

History

Grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has recovered since being listed as endangered in the 1970s. The population has increased from less than 200 in the 1970s to the current 718 bears. Biologists saw consistent population growth (between 4.2 percent and 7.6 percent annually) from 1983 to 2002, then slower population growth (.3 percent to 2.2 percent) from 2002 to 2014. Biologists say the slowed growth rate and stable population in the monitoring area suggest the population is at, or near, the carrying capacity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The Greater Yellowstone population met the recovery criteria outlined in a 1993 recovery plan by the early 2000s. State and federal agencies finalized a long-term conservation strategy in 2007, and the Yellowstone grizzlies were removed from federal protection that year.

In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed legal challenges to delisting, finding that regulatory mechanisms were adequate to support the recovered Yellowstone population. But the court ordered the bears to go back on Endangered Species list until the Fish and Wildlife Service analyzed if a decline in whitebark pine threatened the bear population’s recovery.

The bears were delisted again in July, 2017, and Fish and Game proposed its grizzly hunting season in March, 2018. The proposal garnered more than 900 comments to Fish and Game’s website during the public comment period in April and early May. Comments greatly varied, but the majority favored moving forward with a grizzly hunt.

None Of Last 3 South Selkirk Caribou Were Pregnant

More grim news about the last herd of mountain caribou known to frequent the Lower 48: Pregnancy tests on the remaining three females all came back negative.

That means the subpopulation of North America’s southernmost caribou is dangerously close to becoming extirpated from Washington and Idaho.

A FEMALE MOUNTAIN CARIBOU STANDS IN A MEADOW AT JASPER NATIONAL PARK, IN CANADA. (THOMAS HARTMANN, WIKIMEDIA, CREATIVE COMMONS 4.0 INTERNATIONAL)

The news has left wildlife biologists wondering what to do next.

“We don’t really know,” said Bart George with the Kalispel Tribe north of Spokane. “We’re trying to figure that out, talking to our Canadian counterparts.”

The only three members of the South Selkirk Herd seen during a three-day March survey, biological samples were taken from the cows during capture and collar operations, and George had been hopeful that they’d been bred the previous fall.

But the negative results now suggest that the other animals all died between late winter 2017’s count of 11 and last October’s and November’s rut.

“I don’t know where we would’ve missed them,” George said of this year’s search.

He points to changed predator-prey dynamics in the heights where the caribou feed on lichen that grows on old-growth timber, which is being logged, opening up browse for deer, moose and elk, which brought up bears, cougars and increasingly, wolves.

George said that the three South Selkirk females are otherwise in their prime breeding years.

“They should have been bred” if there was another bull in the area, he said.

It’s now bitterly ironic, but last fall a maternity pen was constructed specifically for these females to be able to rear calves in a predator-proof enclosure.

Another recent survey found just four mountain caribou in the South Purcell herd, which roams near Kimberley, BC, about 40 miles north of the international border.

George said it’s possible that that quartet — all bulls — could end up together with the South Selkirk trio.

Recent news coverage of the dramatic decline in the herd focused on the word extinction, but that’s not really the correct term.

“If this herd is extirpated, it’s a pretty significant range constriction for southern mountain caribou,” said George.

But he’s still not ready to give up hope.

“We’re still going to be managing caribou one way or another. We’re going to do our best for this herd and try getting caribou back on the landscape,” he said.

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.