Fish Talk

Deadwood Reservoir - One of Idaho's Best Fish Smorgass Boards

Deadwood Reservoir is known more for the rough road to the man-made reservoir than for the outstanding fishery it provides.  Between the kokanee, cutthroat, fall Chinook and rainbow trout - fishing is usually fast and can also be very exciting due to the big fish that inhabit the reservoir.

The attached photo was recently taken by Mr. Steve Kern of a monster rainbow trout caught by his son, Jack.  Note the heavy body.  Between zooplankton, freshwater scud, and juvenile kokanee, predatory fish have a smorgass board of option from which to eat.

Sure Sign That Fall is Close

Kokanee Salmon add Color to Idaho Streams

As autumn approaches many outdoor adventurers enjoy watching a natural transformation that changes the look of Idaho’s high country; while the autumn sky is filled with the colors of changing leaves, so are many small Idaho streams filled with the color of spawning kokanee salmon.

Kokanee are a land-locked version of the anadromous sockeye salmon which spend most of their adult lives in the ocean then return to places like the Stanley Basin to spawn.  The domesticated kokanee planted in Idaho reservoirs and lakes originated in Washington state in the 1930’s and 40’s.  They have been successfully introduced into many lakes and reservoirs around Idaho including:  Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Priest Lake, Dworshak Reservoir, Payette Lake, Warm Lake, Lucky Peak, Arrowrock Reservoir, Anderson Ranch Reservoir,  Deadwood Reservoir, Island Park Reservoir and Ririe Reservoir – just to name a few.

Kokanee can grow to 18 inches but the “typical” Idaho kokanee is 10 to 14 inches long. Many would argue they are the most flavorful freshwater fish found anywhere.

Kokanee spend much of their lives eating plankton and aquatic insects, following food sources in the water column. In spring and early summer they can be found in as little as five feet of water, but as temperatures warm in the summer, kokanee go as deep as 20 to 30 feet. Immature kokanee are silver to blue (hence the north Idaho name “blueback”) with a “football” shaped body. Like their salt water cousins the sockeye, their meat is pink to red and is highly prized for its rich flavor.

Kokanee reach maturity and spawn between the ages of 2 and 4 - depending on how fast they grow. When they prepare to spawn, their colors shift to a vibrant red with a green head. This transformation makes kokanee highly visible in streams and along shorelines – not only to people but to predatory birds.  In north Idaho, large groups of bald eagles congregate to prey on the spawning fish. This provides wildlife watchers multiple opportunities to observe nature in action.

Early spawning Kokanee are visible in Mores Creek, the Middle Fork Boise, South Fork Boise and Deadwood River as early as Labor Day Weekend.  Spawning in north Idaho generally starts a few weeks later, and peaks around Thanksgiving.

Beasts of Idaho's Mountain Lakes

August is prime mountain lake fishing season.  If you're fishing mountain lakes that contain many brook trout, don't be surprised to see an occasional lunker northern pike.  We have an on-going evaluation on the effectiveness of predatory sterile northern pike on reducing stunted/over-populated brook trout in Idaho's mountain lakes.  These fish are "eating" machines that will consume many times their weight in fish.

If you observe or catch a northern pike, please release it back into the lake so it can continue making fishing better.

 

July 19th Upper Salmon River Salmon Fishing Closure

After nearly a 4 week run, we're projecting we will meet our 780 fish harvest allotment on the upper Salmon River Chinook salmon fishery.  The season will close on Saturday, July 19th.

When compared to recent Upper Salmon River Chinook salmon fishing seasons, this has been one of the longer periods the river has been open to Chinook harvest.  Hopefully, we can offer the same opportunity or more in 2015.

Little Salmon River/Rapid River Trap - June 16

This past weekend was the busiest weekend yet for the little salmon. Lots of people showed up for free fishing day and our highest count of anglers for the day was 285. With the change in weather, fish catch started to slow down over the weekend. There were not as many anglers getting limits. Anglers reported getting lots of bites, but not being able to land fish. River levels have really gone down, and you can walk to the confluence without waders. But, there is not as many anglers fishing at the confluence anymore. I heard reports that the water temperature was around 43 degrees. Fish in the trap last night were around 192, with a total at the hatchery being around 1000 or so.

 

Dworshak Reservoir - Mid-June

We have also been busy talking to fishermen at the ramps this spring.  While not everyone is coming in with fish this year, most anglers are.  We are also seeing more limits of kokanee than empty coolers.  In April, catch rates averaged 7.6 fish kept per fisherman and 2.8 fish per hour of kokanee fishing.  In May, it picked up to 10.3 fish per person and 3.9 fish per hour.  We don’t have many interviews so far for June, but right now catch rates are 12.3 fish per person and 3.5 fish per hour.  These are great catch rates for Kokanee fishing.  The Kokanee we’ve seen in the creel recently are around 10 inches long, but there are occasional fish over 13 inches long.  Right now most people are fishing between Canyon Creek and Dent Bridge, but we have marked good densities of kokanee farther up the reservoir during our research work.

Not a kokanee fisherman?  We also interviewed 38 bass anglers over the past month who spent 117 hours to catch 463 smallmouth bass and kept 45. This works out to a little over 12 bass caught per person and four fish per hour.  Harvested bass have averaged about 13 inches, but a couple larger fish have been brought in, with the largest right at 20 inches.  Recent surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 60’s with a thermocline at 10 to 15 feet.  As the water has warmed and spawning has wrapped up, larger bass are moving into deeper water.  Some bass anglers I spoke with over the weekend reported that smaller bass were plentiful, but larger bass were down 40 to 50 feet and tough to come by.

Summer is just getting started, but it won’t last forever, so take advantage of the nice days that come our way to get out and catch some fish.  Good luck!

Rapid River Trap Report - June 14

Fishing has been great this week, an average of 50 fish are surveyed each shift (~8 hours) in the beginning of the week, and today 80 fish were surveyed from 14:00 to 22:00. The trap at Rapid River has been getting between 150-300 salmon per day this week. Many anglers here for the weekend, around 200 counted today. I did notice parking along I-95 at the mouth of the Rapid River has been hectic, and drivers on the interstate aren't slowing down. I have seen numerous semi trucks and other vehicles fly by and passing on a double yellow when people are walking or trying to park on the side of the road (Just thought I would bring it to attention). Free Fishing Day this Saturday should turn out to be a great day with lots more salmon to be caught and many  more anglers.

 

-Nathan

Little Salmon River Fishing - Riggins June 13

Fished Riggins - On 6/10-6/11 caught 4 fish and kept 2. Combat fishing at its greatest. But so much fun. The fish are so beautiful and I never have seen fat on Idaho Chinook like there are right now. Best tasting salmon I have ever had. Thanks to all that have made this possible. We need to all appreciate what we have and do whatever is necessary to make this possible for generations to come. - Jeff

 

I was in Riggins 6/9 - 11.  Observed many fishing being caught.  As this gentleman stated, this is social fishing.  Please be courteous and respect your fellow anglers. - dparrish