Horsethief Reservoir bans campfires


Open fires at Fish and Game’s Horsethief Reservoir and its associated campsites have been banned until further notice by order of the department. Wildfires continue to burn across Idaho, and wildfire danger remains very high. “The threat of wildfire in the area is just too great,” Fish and Game recreational site maintenance foreman Dennis Hardy said. “The campfire ban will be lifted when the fire risk subsides.” 

Horsethief Reservoir is located nine miles east of Cascade, and is operated primarily as a rainbow trout fishing water. It is also a popular camping location.


The Incredible Salmon Journey Ends - and Begins

August is the time for death and life for Salmon in Idaho. Watching this real-life drama is difficult in the wild but you can see it at our fish hatcheries at Riggins (Rapid River), McCall, Stanley (Sawtooth), Orofino (Clearwater) and Pahsimeroi (Challis). At these locations you can watch biologists monitor and artificially spawn adult Salmon and place the eggs in incubators to once again produce the next generation of Idaho fish.

Kokanee are freshwater Salmon that are blocked from making the ocean journey. They live their entire lives in Idaho in our lakes and reservoirs. The early run Kokanee spawn in August and early September and can be seen in reservoir tributaries due to their bright red color. Like ocean-going salmon, they also die after spawning and their bodies release nutrients that feed fish and other wildlife in Idaho's remote rivers and streams. We do have late spawning Kokanee that spawn in November and December. Most of these are found in North Idaho waters.

If you want to learn more, visit our Boise Nature Center during Salmon and Steelhead Days Sept. 9-11, 2015.

Update: August 11, 12:30 p.m. - All early unclaimed controlled hunt tags have been sold.

The sale of 142 controlled hunt tags for hunts that begin in mid August were sold on a first-come, first-served basis at 10 a.m. Mountain Time, August 11 at Fish and Game offices, license vendors and online at

In case you missed the August 6 news release, a vendor system glitch made the sale of our first-come, first-served tags impossible on Thursday morning, August 6.

Updated August 18, 2015 10:00 am

All 142 tags scheduled to be sold were available when the sales resumed.

These tags are for unclaimed, early-season controlled hunts. They are different from the tags available for the second controlled hunt drawing.

The application period for the second controlled hunt drawing ended August 15th.

Updated August 18, 2015 10:00 am


Can I still buy a regular license?

Yes. The glitch only happened for these special case tags. You can still buy a license.

When did sales resume?

Tuesday, August 11th at 10:00 am MT.

Were tags sold?

All of the 142 tags were available for purchase once the system glitch was resolved.

Updated August 18, 2015 10:00 am

Fire updates and resources for current conditions and access closure information

Fires continue to burn throughout Idaho, and with hunting seasons starting, here's an overview and links to get more information.

Maps of Idaho Fires

Here's an overview map of fires throughout Idaho. 

You can add your hunting unit or controlled area to the map using the tool bar on the left side.
Note: Due to high web traffic, this page may be slow to load.

Travel Restrictions, Panhandle and Clearwater National Forests

There are currently access resrictions on the Forest Service lands in Northern Idaho and Clearwater due to fires. Here are maps for the Clearwater and maps for the Panhandle that show road and area closures. 

Large Fire Details

Detailed information about each fire burning in Idaho, including maps, can be found here. Note: You will need to know the name of the specific fire to get information.

Altered Hunts?

In the past, Fish and Game has rarely altered hunts because fires because the entire unit is seldom closed because of fire activity and the hunting season usually lasts well into fall. In limited cases, Fish and Game will refund controlled hunt tags or issue rainchecks for next year. Hunters can also exchange tags in some cases, but before a hunt starts. With extreme conditions this year, some hunts could be affected. Here is a recent press release about fires and hunting seasons.

Timely Fire Information

Areas without fires are still hot and dry with a high danger for wildfires, so there may be restrictions on campfires. Go here for current fire restrictions and more updates on current Idaho wildfires.

Fish and Game is currently monitoring fires throughout the state and will do its best to keep hunters updated. However, with various federal, state and private landowners dealing with fires, getting comprehensive information can be challenging, but we will distribute important information as we receive it.

Sockeye arrives at Stanley despite warm water, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game has safeguards to ensure their survival

The first sockeye salmon reached the Sawtooth Basin near Stanley on Monday, July 27 despite hot weather and warm water that prompted Idaho Fish and Game biologists to capture fish downstream to ensure survival of one of Idaho’s most endangered species.

IDFG employee holding sockeye

Tens of thousands of sockeye have died in the Columbia River. Most were likely headed to Central Washington, but during July, Fish and Game personnel trapped and trucked 37 sockeye from the Snake River at Lower Granite Dam to the Eagle Hatchery near Boise. High river temperatures were dangerous to the migrating fish, and the captured sockeye will be held in Eagle until they are ready to spawn in the fall. Many other sockeye remaining in the rivers face an uncertain future.

“It’s a tough year for all anadromous fish, including sockeye,” Fish and Game’s Senior Sockeye Research Biologist Mike Peterson said.

Biologists are concerned high water temperatures in rivers will stall, and kill, some sockeye before they arrive to their spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Basin.

Through July 27, 368 sockeye were counted at Lower Granite Dam about 30 miles from Lewiston. Biologists fear only a fraction of those will make it to the Sawtooth Basin, where some are trapped and taken to hatcheries while others are allowed to spawn in their namesake­ - Redfish Lake.

Trapping and transporting sockeye is one of many safeguards Fish and Game implemented to restore the most southern sockeye population in the world and a unique fish that swims 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 6,500-feet elevation to Central Idaho’s mountains.

Another safeguard is Fish and Game’s captive breeding program, which raises sockeye from egg to adult in a hatchery, foregoing the risky trip to the ocean. The program ensures that regardless of how many adults return this summer, the agency will still be able to ramp up its release of juveniles in the spring.

Despite a challenging summer, Idaho’s sockeye population has dramatically improved over the last decade, and Fish and Game’s sockeye program is designed to adapt to changing conditions.

An abundant sockeye return in 2010 allowed Fish and Game to try a pilot project where 19 sockeye were trapped and trucked from Lower Granite Dam to the Eagle Hatchery to see if the fish could survive the rigors of transport, and they did.

Fish and Game tried trapping again during a heat wave in 2013, but problems associated with getting cool water into Lower Granite’s fish trap lead to no sockeye trapped. This summer, cooler water was pumped from deeper in Lower Granite Reservoir so Fish and Game personnel could trap and transport them.

Biologists are currently in a wait-and-see mode for the fish remaining in the rivers.

“I don’t know what to expect because this is a year we’ve never seen before,” Peterson said. “We’re going to learn the thermal tolerances of these fish.”

After sockeye cross Lower Granite Dam, they still have 400 miles to travel in the Snake and Salmon rivers to reach the Sawtooth Basin, and biologist have limited ability to monitor their progress, or know what happened to those that didn’t make it.

Biologists know warm water slows their progress, and “every day they’re in warm water takes its toll,” Peterson said.

If there’s a silver lining, it will be gaining more knowledge about sockeye.

“Poor conditions mean we’re learning about these fish, and in the past, we didn’t have enough fish to learn from,” he said. “Experience drives what we do in the future.”

In the last decade, between 30 and 78 percent of sockeye that crossed Lower Granite Dam completed the trip to the Sawtooth Basin.

“I’m hoping we get that 30 percent conversion, but realistically it could be less,” Peterson said.

Even at a 30-percent return rate, it would be the smallest return since 2007.

After sockeye cross Lower Granite Dam, it typically takes 30 to 35 days for the fish to reach the Sawtooth Basin, and it’s “almost like clockwork,” Peterson said.

Sockeye started trickling across the dam in late May and June, but most crossed in July and are due to arrive at the Sawtooth Basin in August.

Even if it’s the smallest sockeye return since 2007, the current situation has to be taken in context of the bigger picture. When Idaho sockeye were listed in 1991 under the federal Endangered Species Act, only four adult sockeye returned to the Sawtooth Basin. The combined annual returns from 1991-99 was 23 fish, including two years when no sockeye returned to Idaho.

Rip'n lips on the South Fork of the Salmon River - Natalie Hodson

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -Albert Einstein People think I'm crazy when I tell them what we do when we catch these salmon. We drive three hours into the back mountains of Idaho where there is no phone service, Internet signal, or running water. We set up tents and wake up at 3:30am when it's 40 degrees outside and hike for an hour through the forest to get to our off-road, secret fishing hole. We stand on the rocks bundled up in warm clothes and cast all day long in the hopes to hook one or two salmon all day long.