Panhandle Blog

A Chinook is a Chinook - Not

Those of us that live up-River of Riggins are sure hoping that IDFG will limit the lower Salmon River Chinook harvest, so as to allow a decent adult return to the upper River, especially the Pahsimeroi, and Sawtooth hatcheries. After all, is this not the "seed" that feeds the entire River....????  Darren

 

The Chinook salmon running back to Idaho don't leave the ocean to begin their return journey to spawning streams or hatcheries at the same time.  The earliest Chinook to cross Bonneville Dam are headed to the Clearwater River, Snake River, and Little Salmon River systems.  We know the timing because a small percentage of fish have PIT tags that are read in the fish ladder as they swim over the dam.  This allows us to estimate the population of returning salmon several weeks before the fish reach Idaho.  This is why we set the Chinook salmon season and bag limits for lower river fisheries in March.  A few weeks later, we see PIT tagged fish headed for the South Fork Salmon River pass Bonneville Dam.  Once we have a good idea of the population size, based on the PIT tag information, we set the season and bag limit at the May Commission meeting for the South Fork Salmon River.  The last fish to pass Bonneville Dam contain PIT tags that tell us that they are headed for the upper Salmon River and the Sawtooth and Pahsimeroi Fish hatcheries.  That's why the Upper Salmon River season and bag limit is set last.  Typically, by the time Upper Salmon Basin salmon pass Lower Granite Dam and enter Idaho, the lower Salmon River and Clearwater River seasons are closed.

The three different salmon groups all spawn around the same time (early August thru early September).  Because Chinook salmon can no longer utilize food once they leave the ocean, biologists believe this segregated timing of the fish leaving the ocean is a stratagy to optimize survival to spawning time.  So, the fish that swim the farthest are the last to leave the ocean (they build their strenth in the ocean for as long as they can before starting their "death-swim" to the Stanley Basin).  Chinook in the lower Salmon and Clearwater have an easier journey and expend less energy on the trip.  Consequently, they leave the ocean earlier and can live long in fresh water living on their fat reserves.

Most Chinook salmon return to the stream or hatchery where they "smolted" or began the journey from Idaho to the ocean. So, not all Chinook salmon that enter the Salmon River are headed to the Stanley Basin.  -  dparrish

 

 

Lake Pend Oreille kokanee bag limit

Due to the large number of kokanee we are seeing in Lake Pend Oreille in 2014, we changed the bag limit from 6 to 15 as of today, May 15th.  Kokanee are a great tasting fish.  Check with your local sportshops on how to fish for kokanee.  During the summer months, anglers in boats are more successful than bank anglers.  Fishing flash gear with a piece of bait at a depth of 20 - 30' is the general way.  You can also jig using a colored jig with worm or maggot.

Live Chat on Fishing in Idaho

Fishing enthusiasts are invited to join an online chat with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and ask questions, give feedback, and learn more about fishing in the Gem State.

Live Event!Anglers can chat live with fisheries and hatchery staff, along with enforcement officers, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm Thursday, May 22. We will answer questions about salmon fisheries, family fishing opportunities, fish stocking and other related topics during the live, two hour chat. 

If you have any questions about fishing in Idaho, this is your opportunity to get answers from the people who manage Idaho's rivers, lakes and streams; and the fish that swim in them.
 

Bookmark this page for the event, or sign-up for a reminder email below! 

 

 

Fish Web Chat - May 22nd

On May 22nd from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm mountain time you can chat with Fish folks from the Department.  Find out where to go fishing over Memorial Day Weekend, what the outlook is for salmon and steelhead season, and what/where has been stocked recently by our fish hatchery staff.  Find out if fall chinook salmon in Deadwood Reservoir  will be as big in 2014 as they were last year (see picture) or the latest information on the resurgent kokanee population in Lake Pend Oreille.

 

On May 22nd, go to our webpage and click on the designated button to enter questions and watch for a response.

 

What you need to know about 2014 spring bear season

This year is flying by and spring bear hunting season is underway. If you're a user of public lands, it's not a bad idea to keep track of hunting seasons.

Whether you're just enjoying a hike in the woods or interested in hunting bear, this is a resourceful article on bear seasons in North Idaho from the Spokesman Review.

If you're out and about and have seen a grizzly or black bear we'd like to know.
 Record your observation

Are you "bear aware?"
Learn the differences between Idaho's bears: Grizzlies and Black Bears

bears in idahobears in idaho 2

 

 

Projected Chinook Returns - Lower Salmon River

The latest indicators, as of the last week in April 2014, show a projected return of Chinook salmon to Rapid River fish hatchery of somewhere between 11,000 and 17,000 adults.  Passive Induced Transponder (PIT) tags detectors at Bonneville Dam continue to show strong numbers of salmon passing through the ladder with embedded tags that were placed in the fish before they left Rapid River Hatchery on their migration to the ocean.

Fish currently passing over the dams should arrive in Idaho within the next 30 - 45 days, depending on flow conditions at the Columbia and Snake River dams.

Schedule your time-off and break-out your salmon fishing gear!

Hayden Lake Crappie Fishing

First Crappie, April 2014, Hayden Lake - So far this has been by far the best crappie season we've seen in several years. With more normal spring weather, gradual warming, and minimal cold snaps that tend to turn off early season crappies. Last weekend my wife and I caught over 100 fish ranging from 8 - 12". Only two however were keepers over 10". Fished 1" tube skirt on 1/16 oz jig head, 2 - 3' below a spring style balsa float, and tipped with Crappie Nibbles (the nibbles definitely seemed to produce more fish). We fished several different jig colors, but didn't seem to matter. Green or white are still my favorites (wife prefers pink or purple). 

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

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: http://chefrandyking.com/

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.