Fishing conditions and catch rates on the Clearwater River downstream from Orofino were good during the week but diminished over the weekend. On Saturday, cloudy water conditions were observed and water clarity decreased as water levels began to rise. By Sunday afternoon and the river flows reached 22,900 cubic feet per second causing swift and muddy water conditions with floating debris. The North Fork of the Clearwater was the most popular and productive fishing area over the weekend for both boat and shore anglers who were avoiding the muddy water conditions on the mainstem. On Sunday morning, approximately 100 anglers were observed fishing on the North Fork by IDFG personnel. The South Fork of the Clearwater was not monitored during the week, but anglers reported that they had caught more fish during the week days before water conditions began to become less favorable over the weekend. Saturday afternoon, flows on the South Fork began to rise and on Sunday water conditions were high and muddy. The majority of success over the weekend occurred as high upstream as the Mt. Idaho grade. Very little effort was observed on the Salmon River downstream of Riggins over the weekend due to the high muddy flow coming from the Little Salmon River. Most of the effort occurred above the mouth of the Little Salmon in river locations 12 and 13. A majority of the anglers checked from location 13 were anglers on guided trips. - Amanda Schmidt. Fisheries Technician, Idaho Fish & Game Clearwater Region
Earlier this week, the Boise River had some water issues. Or no water at all, in places. This was due to an equipment failure at Barber dam.
We've had several concerns about effects to fish in the Boise River due to this.
Our biologists are investigating the issue and have written a description of what they look for to make sure the fish stay happy in the beautiful Boise River.
by Joe Kozfkay, Regional Fisheries Manager
On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, February 3rd and 4th 2015, a series of unfortunate occurrences at east Boise’s Barber Dam (owned by Ada County and operated by Enel Green Power) caused Boise River flows to drop to zero for a period of seven hours.
Maintenance activities are being performed on the dam’s spillway, and to ensure construction crew safety, Barber Pool is being held at less than full pool levels, with all river flows being routed through one turbine. Unfortunately, the gate that allowed water to reach this turbine closed Tuesday night and alarm systems failed. Upstream flows were then caught in Barber Pool, until the point where the pool was refilled and additional water began cresting the dam’s spillway.
During the seven-hour period of zero cubic feet per second river flow over or through Barber Dam, several miles of the Boise River were de-watered or did not receive the “normal” wintertime minimum flow of 240 cubic feet of water per second. Very few people saw the river in this condition as it occurred in the middle of the night. From a fish habitat standpoint, riffles and run habitats were likely severely de-watered, whereas pool habitat likely retained water. Farther downstream areas were less impacted as infiltration of groundwater re-wetted the river channel.
Winter is a critical period for many aquatic species. Dramatic river flow reductions can have negative impacts on aquatic organisms such as fish and invertebrates. Fish survive the winter by reducing activity levels and seeking habitat where they can avoid expending energy while at the same time avoiding predators. This is especially true for young trout. The Boise River possesses wild, spring-spawning rainbow trout and wild, fall-spawning brown trout. Young rainbow trout reside on the river’ edges, usually near downed wood or other cover. A rapid drop in river level may force young rainbow trout to seek alternative cover and become susceptible to predators. It may also cause stranding and death.
For the most part, brown trout spawn throughout the month of November. Boise River water temperatures result in an approximate 60-day brown trout egg incubation period. In early February, young brown trout are just beginning to hatch or have just recently done so. At this critical life stage, water level drops are known to cause brown trout mortality. Other fish species also reside in riffles and near shore areas and may have been affected by the dramatic drop in river flow, including sculpin, dace, and whitefish.
Idaho Fish and Game crews conducted visual surveys of this river segment on Wednesday afternoon, February 4th. No dead adult fish were observed, which was a positive sign. Measurement of potential impacts to young trout and other species are only beginning and will be much more difficult to determine. Crews are at the river today, sampling riffle and river margin areas in the de-watered area and in downstream reaches to make a relative comparison. This should provide some information on possible impacts of the de-watering event.
Other types of suspected impacts may not be readily measured, especially for young trout, non-game fish, or invertebrate numbers and species. Based on the results of these and subsequent surveys, Fish and Game staff will determine whether appropriate mitigation should be pursued from responsible parties.
Magic Valley residents fear a poached deer is an animal with which they enjoyed sharing their neighborhood. Public reaction and an update on the investigation at the Times News(http://magicvalley.com/lifestyles/recreation/trophy-buck-s-poaching-spar...)
Collisions with wildlife are possible no matter where you drive in Idaho, but in certain parts of Southeast Idaho, extra caution is highly advised.
Those places are in this Idaho State Journal article.
As expected we saw a large increase in the number of anglers this past weekend due to the Hardwater classic ice derby that was taking place on Saturday. This pressure continued throughout the weekend with a fair number of anglers being observed on Sunday as well. This week the number of anglers out on the ice decreased with only a few people out fishing mid-week. Ice conditions continue to remain steady with approximately 8" of ice around the lake. We’ve been experiencing some warmer temperatures and lows that aren’t getting cold so we’re probably not gaining any ice. There have been numerous reports of pressure cracks throughout the reservoir with open water gaps. The predominant one being noted is around Sugarloaf. As always caution should be taken anytime travelling out on the ice with an atv or snowmobile.
The fishing over the weekend increased significantly with a lot of bigger size perch being brought in. With that being said there was a still a lot of people that were reporting very little success. The winning perch in the Ice derby came in just under 2 lbs. Although I saw a lot of nice fish being harvested there wasn’t a lot of extremely large fish. A majority of the bigger fish being caught over the weekend were in the 13" range with the occasional fish over 14". There were also several nice trout taken over the weekend, but as with the perch the fishing was slow and very inconsistent. The majority of the pressure was seeing around Sugarloaf and with that pressure came the best success from around the lake. Those that were on ATV’s and snowmobiles were about to search out where the fish were and able to catch a reasonable amount of nice fish.
Hopefully we’ll get some colder temperatures and the ice will remain thick for the remainder of the winter. With warm daytime temperatures and no snow on the ice, the ice is very slick and some sort of traction should be used when walking around on it.
Idaho Parks and Recreation along with Idaho Department of Fish and Game are teaming-up to bring you one of the most scenic fishing ponds in Idaho. Ground was recently broken in the park for a fishing pond that will be stocked with rainbow trout by the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game.
Wallace Keck, Park Superintendent and Doug Megargle Regional Fish Manager are collaborating on the project as a way to provide better customer service for anglers visiting the park and living near the town of Almo. This will also allow the Fish and Game to stock fish in an area where they are more likely to be harvested by anglers. It will also help to protect Yellowstone cutthroat trout found in Almo Creek by providing more angler opportunities in the pond.
This week's ice conditions improved from last week with ice reported between 6-8" everywhere around the lake with some spots with 10+ inches. With that being said we also had a warm spelled sweep through the area on Sunday with rain and warm temps causing the snow that was on top of the ice to melt. Since we have had cold temps the last couple of days that has frozen solid adding another layer of ice to what was already accumulated. Since there is no snow on the ice, the conditions are very slick so caution should be had. There have been a large number of people taking ATV’s and Snowmobiles out on the ice, although caution should be used when taking heavier equipment out on the ice.
The pressure this past week peaked on Saturday which saw a lot of anglers scattered throughout the entire lake both North and South. But with the warm spell on Sunday the fishing pressure dropped quickly with very few anglers being seen on Sunday as well as through the first part of this week. Even with the increased pressure on Saturday catch rates were still relatively slow. Once again perch angler reports of mostly smaller fish and very few quality sized fish coming out. The trout fishing on the South end of the lake near the city boat ramp and Blue Heron boat ramp has proved to be somewhat productive with some nice size trout being taken early this week.
This coming Saturday (1/24) the Hardwater Classic ice fishing derby is being held so pressure through the later part of this week into the weekend should increase significantly. Hopefully with this increased fishing pressure more quality size fish will be found and anglers will have a better idea as to where to focus their effort. Until then the best of luck to anyone out in search of perch through the ice.
Related to ice fishing, here is a picture from South Korea of what real ice fishing competition looks like.