Recent Blogs

Upper Salmon River Weekend Summary 4/20/14

This weekend on the upper Salmon River the majority of anglers were once again found upstream of Basin Creek, in location code 19. Few anglers were found downstream in location codes 17 and 18. Interviewed anglers in location code 17 averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught and 32 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 18, interviewed anglers did not report catching any steelhead. Upstream of the East Fork, in location code 19, interviewed anglers averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught and 26 hours per steelhead kept. Click here for more details.

River conditions upstream of Basin Creek remained good over the weekend, but river conditions downstream were poor due to increased turbidity and rising water levels. Water temperatures continued to stay in the mid-40s.  - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician

1907 - Hatchery to Hook

Idaho’s state fish hatchery program is one of Idaho Fish and Game’s oldest and continuous programs.

In April of 1900, State Game Warden Charles Arbuckle recommended to the governor that Idaho was in need of a fish hatchery. State funding wasn’t available so Arbuckle circulated a petition to Representatives of Congress, for the establishment of a federal hatchery in Idaho. While supported by most, a federal hatchery wouldn’t be built and in production in Idaho until 1933. However, with revenue generated from license sales beginning in 1903, Idaho was able to construct its first state fish hatchery in 1907 at Hay Spur in Blaine County. In January 1908, the hatchery received eggs and began raising and distributing fish around the state.  The Hay Spur Fish Hatchery is still in operation today.

Two more hatcheries were built the following year and by 1927 there were 10 hatcheries in operation.  Through the years, 37 hatcheries and numerous remote-rearing ponds have come and gone with 20 hatcheries currently in operation.  Of the first 10 hatcheries, four are still in operation today.

As early as 1913, State Game Warden J. B. Gowen noticed the mobility of sportsmen increasing and was concerned about the impact it would have on native fish populations.  He called for the four existing hatcheries to increase production for the coming years. His concerns still hold true today.

Today’s hatcheries help protect wild and native populations with recreational opportunities afforded by hatchery-grown fish.  Governor Gooding said it best in 1908: “There is no reason, when taking into consideration the many natural advantages, why Idaho should not become famous as the greatest trout state in the Union”. 

As the state’s population grew so did the number of people fishing in Idaho.  The hatchery system continued to expand, providing more fish to be stocked in more bodies of water and new programs were initiated to complement the hatchery program, such as the 1940s multi-year project to survey and catalogue Idaho’s waters to be used as a guide in the distribution of fish.

During WWII, 1,854 lakes had been cataloged. It was just in time, as thousands of service men returned to Idaho to fish their favorite fishing spot, only to find it might be found a little over-crowded.  So in 1947 an intensive high mountain lake stocking program was initiated with the stocking of 146 lakes inaccessible by car alone. In the next four years, 400-500 more lakes were stocked.   With the interest in these lakes growing, the Department published its first pamphlet “Mountain Lakes of Idaho” to aid the angler in discovering a remote lake close to home.  It provided detailed maps and the fish species stocked in each lake. This pamphlet was revised numerous times and the eighth and final printing was in 1973.

“Mountain Lakes of Idaho” became increasingly popular with anglers and many requests were made for a similar publication of lowland lakes and reservoirs. So, in the 1950s the Department published Idaho Lakes and Reservoirs Guide. It too was printed several times with a final printing in 1973.

And the Department didn’t stop there. It continued, and continues today, to develop programs and tools for the Idaho angler. The Fishing Access Program provides the public with over 160 fishing access sites statewide, offering a safe and clean environment including access roads, parking areas, rest rooms, fishing piers, and picnicking/camping sites.

Family Fishing Waters have been developed to provide choice locations close to home and geared towards families. They are regularly stocked with fish to provide for the likelihood of catching a fish. They are easy to reach, easily accessible for anglers of all ages and are open year-round!

The Aquatic Education Program provides numerous events throughout the year including Trout in the Classroom, a school program connecting students with their watersheds including raising trout from eggs to fry and then stocking them in local waters.

These are just a few examples. Idaho anglers can find information about these programs and more at any Fish and Game office or on the website .

So, when thinking about an upcoming trip to your favorite fishing spot, maybe take a day to visit an Idaho fish hatchery and see first-hand where and how so many of Idaho’s fish get from hatchery to hook. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game welcomes you.

Youtube Video Playlist URL: 
Flickr Photo Tag: 
Check box if video: 

An Afternoon on C.J Strike

We just got back from an afternoon of fishing on C.J. Strike Reservoir. We fished the narrows from a boat and caught several hundred yellow perch, bluegill and crappie. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.

Now for the rest of the story... The crappie averaged 6.5 to 7.5” and the perch averaged 8”.  Bluegill were small, as well. We did hook a few nice smallmouth bass, and Jerry managed to land a 6 lb. northern pikeminnow on a super-ultralight rod with 2 lb. test line, which had us all glued to the water until we saw what it was.  

We got kind of bored catching so many small fish. We started off with a piece of nightcrawler on the hook, but got tired of the perch ripping it off all the time and having to re-bait, so we quit using it. So, we started using 1-1.5” tube jigs. We lowered it about six to ten feet, jigged it twice and set the hook.  Many times fish would hit it on the way down.  We had the best luck with white and yellow, but I think anything you put down there would catch fish, there’s just so many. 

A few anglers were catching a few bigger perch a couple hundred yards out from the Cottonwood launch site. 

Although we got bored catching small fish, this would be a great time for kids and family!  And the fish should grow an inch or two this spring and summer, so August and September could be great!  For real fun, fish with ultralight gear, as it helps to detect the bite better, as well. - Joe from Hagerman.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir - An Anglers Conundrum

Salmon Falls Reservoir, located near the Idaho-Nevada border in South-Central Idaho, is known for outstanding walleye fishing. But it's the other species of fish that bring me back. Spring fishing for rainbow and rainbow/cutthroat trout along the shore using bait has been exceptional this spring. An afternoon fishing on the rocky points with jigs and lures produced respectable smallmouth bass.  We even found a few walleye venturing into the shallows at the upper end of the reservoir  as the afternoon sun warmed the water.  Nowhere else in Idaho offers so much diversity and opportunity.  It also generates indecision because I can’t decide what to fish for first. – Dave from Boise

The Return of Kokanee Fishing on Lake Pend Oreille

It's time to fish for kokanee again on Lake Pend Oreille. The last time I fished for kokanee here was with my Dad, when it was a booming sport in the 1960s. I remember threading maggots on a small jighead and fishing for (and catching) kokanee with hand lines from the Sandpoint City dock.  It was a sad day when the fishery was closed in the 1970's, but now they’re back!

Kokanee, a “relative” of the ocean-going Sockeye Salmon, provided both a popular sport fishery and commercial fishery through the 1960s.  In the 1970s things changed when kokanee number crashed and kokanee harvest was eventually prohibited in Lake Pend Oreille. 

Now, the kokanee are back in Lake Pend Oreille.  Two years ago Fish and Game opened the lake for the daily harvest of 6 kokanee.  Last winter, large numbers of spawning kokanee were noted in tributary streams to Pend Oreille and in shore-spawning areas.  Recent sampling with nets showed kokanee numbers in the lake are similar to what we observed in the 1960’s.  Don’t be surprised to see bag limits on kokanee increased again in the near future. – Dave from Boise

Volunteering for habitat [Article and Photos]

Idahoans care about their wildlife. It's always uplifting to me to see a group of volunteers taking time to show their appreciation and volunteer at events such as sagebrush and bitterbrush planting to restore wildlife habitat.

Volunteers recently planted over the Minidoka complex fire at Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area. The Times-News story and photo gallery are now online.

Interested in volunteering? You can also learn more about the history of volunteers in Idaho Fish and Game's 75th celebration page.

Planting Game Habitat at Big Cottonwood
VIRGINIA HUTCHINS • TIMES-NEWS Mark Fleming, regional wildlife habitat manager, gives instructions to volunteers who will help the Idaho Department of Fish and Game plant sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings in burned areas of the Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area on April 5, 2014.

Photo used by permission.


Wild Turkey Cutlets by Chef Randy King

Wild Turkey Cutlets

Once you harvest your turkey, the next step is preparing the meat and cooking up a great wild meal. Idaho chef, Randy King, not only has turkey recipes to try, but also tips on how to prepare turkey meat to get the best taste and texture from your bird.

For the spring turkey hunt, King offers up a recipe for Wild Turkey Cutlets. For other wild meat preparations, see Chef King’s website:

Let's Talk Turkey

The total mass of a turkey is always surprising to me. I shoot other big birds like geese and sage hen often but a turkey is just a totally different ball game, and as such needs to be treated that way.

Turkeys consist of 5 cuts of meat in total: the breast, the tenderloin, the wings, the thighs and the drumsticks. Each of these bird parts beg for a separate cooking method. It is not wise to just roast a wild turkey like a butterball. The breast will probably be dry, the drumsticks will be good for dog chew toys and the thigh meat will require a steak knife.

This month I will concentrate on the breast meat of a turkey, by far the biggest bang for the buck.

Turkey breast meat is not as soft and juicy as store bought, but it has a ton more flavor. Think elk meat vs. beef – similar but still different. But like store bought meat it still needs cooked to 165 degrees to be safe to eat. Be careful when cooking meat to this temperature, it can be very dry. To avoid dry meat make sure to remove it from heat a whole 10 degrees before it reaches 165 degrees on the inside. Carry over cooking will finish the job of getting the meat to 165.

Breaded Turkey Cutlets with Oil Poached Garlic and Tomatoes served with Pan Roasted Orange

This recipe calls for turkey “cutlets” AKA  slices of turkey breast. Lay your breast out on the counter. It will make half of a heart shape. Cut across the grain of the meat in about ¼ inch sections. You will get quite a few. It is even a little easier to cut when the meat is frozen a little.

Take those slices and place them between two sheets of clear plastic film about an inch from each other. Use a mallet or the bottom of a pan to hammer the slices into almost see through thin sections. You now have turkey “cutlets” and they are a transformed piece of wild game meat. Bread them and fry them, add a squeeze of lemon, and you have the German classic schnitzel. And that classic dish is what we are having fun with today. Replace the sour lemon with a sweeter caramelized orange and add the roasted garlic and tomatoes – bang – a whole new take on a classic.

Oil Poached Garlic and Tomatoes

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

In a small sauce pan add the garlic, tomatoes and oil. Turn heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Reserve in warm location. This will create more than you need for this recipe. Store them in a mason jar in the fridge, covered in oil and they will last up to a year. Just microwave the jar when you want some roasted garlic and tomatoes.

Pan Roasted Orange

  • 2  oranges, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

In a medium sized cast iron skillet add the oil and then the orange halves, flesh side down. Heat on medium until the exposed orange flesh is dark brown. Remove pan from heat. Reserve.

Turkey Cutlets

  • 8 each 2 oz. turkey cutlets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning herb blend
  • ¼ cup canola oil

Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan or cast iron on medium heat until a wooden spoon inserted into the oil just gives off bubbles and floats. Or head oil to 350 degrees. (This is an old German trick that I learned in Singapore, long story…all I know is that it works. The oil temp will be about 350 degrees)

Gather three small bowls. Place the flour, milk and bread crumbs in separate bowls. In the flour bowl add the black pepper, Italian seasoning and salt. Mix the flour and other ingredients  together.

Place cutlets in the flour and coat all sides evenly. Then place the cutlet in the milk, wetting all sides. Then place the cutlet in the bread crumbs, forcefully pushing bread crumbs into all parts of the turkey cutlet. Reserve the breaded cutlet on a plate. Bread the remaining slices.

Carefully place one cutlet at a time in the hot oil. Cook the cutlet until it is golden brown and delicious, or “GB&D,” on one side then flip. Cook the other side until GB&D as well. Reserve the fried cutlets on a paper towel lined plate.

Weekend Summary on Salmon River 4/16/14

This past weekend on the upper Salmon River, the majority of anglers were found above Ellis in location codes 18 and 19, but anglers downstream of Salmon were still catching steelhead, as well. Anglers interviewed in location code 15, downstream of North Fork, averaged 13 hours per steelhead caught and 29 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 16, angler effort dropped from the previous weekend, but interviewed anglers still averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 11 hours per steelhead kept. Between the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi Rivers, in location code 17, interviewed anglers averaged 23 hours per steelhead caught and 34 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream of Ellis, in location code 18, interviewed anglers averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught and 51 hours per steelhead kept. Above the East Fork, in location code 19, angler effort increased significantly over the previous weekend, and interviewed anglers averaged 12 hours per steelhead caught and 30 hours per steelhead kept.  Click here for more details.

Water conditions remained favorable through the weekend, with clear water observed in all location codes and water temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician

Weekend Survey on Clearwater and Little Salmon 4/5/2014

The Little Salmon River and the South Fork Clearwater were a busy fishery over the weekend and catch rates were very good. Fish and Game has discontinued monitoring the Main Clearwater River due to minimal angler effort.  Effort observed on the Main Salmon River was also minimal.  Click here for more details - Amanda Schmidt, Fisheries Technician