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What to do when you face a bear: Learn more in these videos

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has put out two videos demonstrating how to use bear spray in bear country.

View these videos below, or browse to:

Bear Spray Demonstration for Hunters

IGBC Bear Spray Public Service Announcement


Thanks to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for making these videos available. 

In addition to the federal members of the IGBC, the following organizations contributed to the production of these videos: UDAP, Counter Assault, Boone and Crockett Club, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wyoming Department of Game and Fish, Idaho Fish and Game Department, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 


Patience Pays Off for Brynlee

Brynlees turkey 2013

Brynlee found out that perseverance pays off. Just the morning before, her younger 10 year old sister Olivia came very close to harvesting this Tom. It had been Olivia's 3rd morning hunting turkeys, but just when we thought we had it all figured out, the turkeys would outsmart us again. When it was Brynlee's turn again, (her third morning also) it all finally came together. By setting up very quietly, picking the right spot, and showing patience as the turkeys closed the distance, Brynlee was able to slowly raise her shotgun and harvest this big tom at 20 yards. She hopes that her younger sister Olivia and her older brother Staten will get their chance also, as they drew the same permits as well. - Eric, a proud father.

Upper Salmon River Weekend Report 10/20/13

This weekend on the upper Salmon River the steelhead fishing improved considerably over the previous one in location codes 14 and 15, but remained slow upstream in location codes 16 and 17. Anglers had the best catch rates downstream of the Middle Fork in location code 14, where they averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 47 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 15 anglers averaged 17 hours per steelhead caught and 55 hours per steelhead kept. No kept steelhead were found upstream of North Fork and only one was reported as released, which resulted in a catch rate of 356 hours per steelhead in location code 16. In location code 17, angler effort was low and no steelhead were reported caught.  Click here for a full report.  - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries Technician


Rule Changes on Clearwater River

Hi everybody, we are implementing rule changes for steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River that you all should be aware of.  First I will let you know what the rule changes are and then I will let you know why we made these changes.

Starting on the season opener (October 15, 2013), for the entire Clearwater River basin where steelhead fishing is allowed, the limit will be 1 adipose clipped steelhead, 2 in possession (see attachment). 

In addition, from the mouth of the Clearwater River upstream to the Orofino Bridge including the North Fork Clearwater River, only adipose clipped steelhead less than or equal to 28 inches can be harvested.

These rules will apply for both the fall and spring seasons which means they will remain in effect through April 30, 2014 after which the steelhead season closes in the Clearwater River basin.

Obviously, with these rules, people will be needing to measure some of these fish to make sure they are legal.  Here are my recommendations to minimize handling mortality.  If the fish is clearly larger than 28 inches don’t take it out of the water unless you want to take a quick picture.  For those fish close to 28 inches, put some marks on the outside of your boat that you can rest the fish against to check it’s length against (you may be able to do this without taking the fish out of the net).  This will help prevent people from dropping a struggling fish in the bottom of their boat increasing the likelihood of handling mortality.  For bank anglers, try to keep the fish in the water while measuring it.  If you turn a steelhead upside down while in the water, it tends to remain calm allowing you to accurately measure this fish (this requires two of you though). 

I imagine, for some of you, these rule changes have your blood boiling.  Please bear with me and read on so you understand why we had to make these rule changes.

Typically, we collect about 80-90% of the Clearwater River basin’s steelhead brood stock at Dworshak Hatchery depending on how many fish we can collect during our localized brood stock efforts in the South Fork Clearwater River (collected by anglers) and at Kooskia Hatchery.  Our total brood stock needs are around 2,000 fish which means we should trap around 1,700 fish at Dworshak Hatchery to be sure we meet our brood needs.  In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with conserving and perpetuating the NF Clearwater steelhead stock to the best of their ability, and a couple traits that they try to maintain in this steelhead population are a broad spectrum of return and spawn timing and a dominance of the 2-ocean life history.  As such, we just don’t want to spawn any fish that arrives at the hatchery.  We want to make sure we collect fish from early in the run and from late in the run.  In addition, the majority (~95%) of steelhead we spawn are the 2 and 3-ocean fish (these fish tend to be greater than 28 inches) to make sure we maintain that larger size structure the Clearwater River basin is famous for.   So, if you look at the table below, you will see we are forecasting (based on PIT tag returns at Bonneville Dam) a return of 1,948 2 and 3-ocean steelhead destined for Dworshak Hatchery.  If we need 1,700 of these fish to make it to Dworshak Hatchery for brood purposes, that doesn’t leave much for tribal and non-tribal harvest.  In fact, the only way we feel confident that we can get the necessary fish to Dworshak Hatchery is to restrict all harvest of these 2 and 3-ocean fish (those fish greater than 28 inches) as we know some of these fish will not make it to the hatchery for natural reasons (straying or natural mortality) and others will die from catch and release practices.  Because we spawn very few of the 1-ocean fish, it makes sense that we allow them to be harvested and is the reason why you will be able to keep steelhead less than or equal to 28 inches downstream of Orofino Bridge including the North Fork.  Notice that about 40% of the steelhead returning to Dworshak Hatchery will be 1-ocean fish.  Very few (< 10%) of the Dworshak released fish venture upstream of the Orofino Bridge and is why upstream of this location we will allow harvest of all sizes of  steelhead.


If you are wondering how this Dworshak hatchery return compares to past returns, the table below shows the returns of 2 and 3-ocean fish since the 1994-5 run year.  You will notice that this year’s run (1,948 fish) is projected to be less than half the previous low for these years.  For the 1994-5 run we had a 2-fish limit with no size restrictions and Dworshak Hatchery did not meet its brood needs that year (500 fish short).  For the 1995-6 run, we implemented catch-and-release rules through Dec 31 and Dworshak Hatchery exceeded its brood needs by almost 2,000 fish (evidence that restrictive rules can make a big difference).  Since the 1995-6 run year, the daily limit for the fall steelhead fishery has been 2 fish with no size restriction – until now.  We met our brood needs every one of those years.  Over these years, the data suggest we harvest anywhere from 40 to 70% of the fish that enter the fishery and it seems that during the smaller runs we tend to harvest a higher percent of the fish.

October 2013 Panhandle Fish Update from Jim Fredericks

Spawned kokanee covered with bees

Greetings Anglers:

I wanted to take a few minutes to send out an update on some of the fishery issues throughout the region as summer wraps up.  For those who don’t shift their focus to things with fur and feathers over the next couple of months, the fishing in area lakes and streams will be some of the best the year has to offer.  I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy it.  There’ve been a few notable events and frequently asked questions that I thought I’d touch on. 

Hayden Lake

One of the most frequent questions we’ve heard over the past month is “since when are there sockeye in Hayden Lake?”  Being on this distribution list you probably already know that those “sockeye” are actually kokanee.  We stocked kokanee in Hayden Lake in 2011 with the sole intent of trying to bolster the open water fishery, and boy has it worked well so far.  As 2-year-old fish, the kokanee grew to 16-18 inches and created a popular fishery.  Now that they’ve reached maturity, their bright red bodies, green heads, and humped backs have people mistaking them for their saltwater cousins.  Spawning kokanee have been spotted around the lake, and we counted a couple hundred fish up Hayden Creek (including the one in the photo).  For the most part, while interesting and fun to see, the spawning activity won’t likely have much of an impact on the population.  September spawning kokanee generally need cold running tributaries to reproduce successfully.  Though they may try to spawn along the lake shore, the relatively warm lake water temperatures cause embryos to hatch out prematurely.  Successful lakeshore spawning is associated with a November/December strain of kokanee.  Those fish spawning in Hayden Creek will likely fare better, but accessibility and low flows in late summer seem to limit the number of fish that are able to make their way into Hayden Creek.   In the big scheme of things, it’s doubtful that there will be significant natural reproduction.  That’s not a bad thing, however.  The intent all along has been to manage numbers primarily by fingerling stocking.   We stocked another 100,000 fingerling kokanee in 2012, and this year increased the number to 150,000.  Anglers should continue to enjoy some good kokanee fishing in Hayden in the future. 

Pend Oreille

Speaking of kokanee, the return of kokanee harvest opportunity has been a welcome addition to the Pend Oreille fishery this year.   Though limited to a harvest of six, anglers have been taking advantage of the fishery and have generally had little difficulty finding good schools of kokanee and catching limits of 10-12 inch fish.  The research crew recently finished conducting the field portion of their population estimates, and though the numbers haven’t been finalized, the number of all age-classes of kokanee continues to be very encouraging.  Rainbow anglers are also delighted with the abundant kokanee population, considering that more kokanee means faster growing, and larger rainbow.  In addition, thanks to the support and financial contribution of the Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club (LPOIC), IDFG recently released about 15,000 pure Gerrard (Kamloops) rainbow trout fingerlings into the Pack River drainage and Spring Creek.  The eggs were acquired from British Columbia and the fish were reared at the Cabinet Gorge Hatchery.  With further help from LPOIC, the fingerlings were recently adipose-fin clipped so that we can evaluate their performance and contribution to the fishery in the coming years. 

The netting operation resumed in early September, and the crew is currently concentrating their efforts on spawning lake trout.  That will continue through mid-October when spawning aggregations disperse.  At that time, the effort will be shifted to juvenile lake trout in the northern part of the lake, and to a lesser extent in Scenic Bay.  The netting will continue through April, with a midwinter break from mid-December through mid-January. 

Priest Lake

I hope by now everyone recognizes no decision has been made with regard to Priest Lake fishery management, and lake trout are NOT being netted from Priest Lake.  We completed the major portion of a lake trout population assessment with the University of Idaho this spring, which involved capturing just over 4,000 lake trout, nearly 3,000 of which were tagged and released.  The assessment will help answer many questions about the current status of the lake trout population – harvest rates, growth rates, food habits, and age-structure.   The lake trout study will be part of several other assessments in the next 3-4 years (kokanee ecology, Mysis shrimp status, angler use) that will help guide a long-term management decision on both Priest and Upper Priest lakes.  IDFG has assembled a group of local Priest Lake angler and stakeholders to serve as an advisory group for the decision making process.  We’ve been meeting every couple of months and will continue to do so until a plan has been developed and readied for public comment. 

In the meantime, IDFG will continue to work with the USFWS and Kalispel Tribe to prevent lake trout from dominating Upper Priest Lake.  Gillnets will continue to be used on an annual basis for a week in late spring, and a trap net will be placed in the Thorofare in October/November to prevent lake trout from moving up from the lower lake. 

 Coeur d’Alene Lake

A beautiful day for fishing.

Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River

Steelhead fishing is still slow in both the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. Weather is cooling off and we had a nice rain storm on Sunday. The featured picture is of the confluence river section 01 and of Washington river section 648. Click here to see the latest steelhead harvest report. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician

2013 Super Hunt Winners

Both 2013 Super Hunt drawings are done and 34 lucky hunters have won the hunt of their dreams. Here are the 2013 Idaho Super Hunt winners by state:

  • 8 Super Hunt deer tags went to 3 Idaho hunters, 2 Washington hunters and 1 each to Wyoming, Wisconsin, Texas, Nevada and Utah hunters.

  • 8 Super Hunt elk tags went to 6 Idaho hunters, 2 Washington hunters, and 1 each to Minnesota and California hunters.

  • 8 Super Hunt pronghorn tags went to 6 Idaho hunters, 2 California hunters and 1 each to Washington and Minnesota hunters.

  • 2 Super Hunt moose tags went to 1 California hunter and 1 Indiana hunter.

  • 2 Super Hunt Combo tags went to 2 Idaho hunters.

Winners of Super Hunt tags for a deer, elk, pronghorn or moose can participate in any open hunt in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

The special drawings began in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Access Yes! program, which helps assure hunter and angler access to and across private lands by compensating willing landowners.

For information about this program contact local Fish and Game officials or visit the website at: