If you're a bird watcher this week's report might just make you happy. With all the open water on Cascade there has been a plethora of waterfowl visiting the area, lots of ducks, geese, and swans. If you're an ice fisherman the outlook isn't so optimistic. With all the warm and wet weather we've been experiencing this past week the ice on cascade has gone for the wayside. The south end of the lake I would deem not safe. Besides the large open water gap between the bank and the ice itself there lies many more problems throughout the southern end of the lake. These problems would include but are not limited to large areas of open water, large cracks with open water gaps between them, and some rotten ice. With that being said I cannot say that anyone should attempt to fish on cascade south of Sugarloaf Island. This includes all the way from sugarloaf to the town of cascade. I have attached a few photos that I took today of Ice conditions on the southern end of the lake.
Now that we’re done being pessimistic, the north end of the lake continues to be fishable, with one exception. That exception is finding a spot to access the ice. With the influx of water from the thaw the level of the reservoir has increased causing the ice to pull away from the shore. Along with this the ice closest to shore is still fairly weak and soft. But if you can find your way onto the ice things are looking good. The ice depth around poison creek were still 6-7” of solid ice. There was a few places that you can actually access the ice around poison creek and the surrounding area. The area around boulder creek I wasn’t able to find a place that I could access the ice without going over the top of my boots and getting wet. If you’re a diehard ice fisherman and need to get that last little bit of fishing in the north end is where it can happen. With that being said extreme caution should be used especially right now with warm temperatures and thawing ice.
I guess I could mention that fishing still has continued to be fairly slow with those that have made it out on the ice. There seems to be a greater ratio of big to small fish but the overall number of fish being caught is fairly low.
DP - We lost two anglers on Winchester Lake this past week when they fell through the ice. Please be careful and if there's a doubt - save yourself to fish another day.
Idaho Fish and Game plans several public meetings around the state to discuss 2015 proposed big game seasons and rules.
Interested individuals can visit with department personnel concerning the proposed seasons and provide comments by attending any of the meetings listed below.
Panhandle Region 1 – open house meeting held from 4 to 7 pm:
- Monday, March 2, Panhandle Regional Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d’ Alene.
Clearwater Region 2 – all meeting will be held from 5 to 7 pm:
- Monday, February 23, Grangeville Senior Citizens Center, 108 N. State St.
- Tuesday, February 24, Latah County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building, 1021 Harold St. Moscow.
- Wednesday, February 25, Fish and Game Clearwater Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Dr.
- Thursday, February 26, Clearwater Regional Office, 3316 16th St., Lewiston.
Southwest Region 3 – all meetings will be held 5 to 7 pm:
- Tuesday, February 24, Fish and Game McCall Office, 555 Deinhard Lane
- Wednesday, February 25, Council American Legion Hall, Highway 95.
- Thursday, February 26, Southwest Region Fish and Game Office, 3101 S. Powerline Road, Nampa
Biologists will also be available for discus the proposals and collect public comments at the 2015 Idaho Sportsman Show, March 5-8, at Expo Idaho, 5610 N Glenwood St., Boise.
Magic Valley Region 4 – all meetings will begin at 7 pm:
- Tuesday, February 24, Hailey Community Campus, Rooms 301 & 302, 1050 Fox Acres Rd., Hailey
- Wednesday, February 25, Burley Inn Minidoka Room #2, 800 N. Overland, Burley
- Thursday, February 26, Magic Valley Regional Office, 324 S. 417 E., Highway Business Park, 2.5 miles north of the Flying J, Jerome
Southeast Region 5 - all meetings will begin at 6:30 pm:
- Monday, February 23, Malad, Senior Citizens Center, 26 N. Main Street
- Tuesday, February 24, Soda Springs, Senior Citizens Center, 60 South Main Street
- Wednesday, February 25, Montpelier, Bear Lake Senior Citizens Center, 115 S. 4th
- Thursday, February 26, Preston, Larsen-Sant Public Library, 109 S. 1st East
- Monday, March 2, Blackfoot, City Hall Council Chambers, 157 North Broadway
- Tuesday, March 3, Pocatello, Southeast Region Fish and Game Office, 1345 Barton Road
Upper Snake Region 6 – all meetings will begin at 7 pm:
- Monday, February 23, Upper Snake Fish and Game Office, 4279 Commerce Circle
- Monday, March 2, Madison Middle School, 575 West 7th South in Rexburg
Salmon Region 7 – all meetings will be held from 5 to 8 pm:
- Wednesday, February 25, Salmon Fish and Game Office, 99 Hwy 93 North, Salmon
- Thursday, February 26, Challis Community Event Center, Board Room, Clinic Rd, Challis
In addition, 2 web-chats are scheduled on Wednesday, March 4, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm and 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. These will be attended by biologists from across the state to answer questions.
Comments taken at the meetings and online will be summarized and presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the March 23-24 meeting in Boise, when big game seasons are set.
Earlier this week, the Boise River had some water issues. Or no water at all, in places. This was due to an equipment failure at Barber dam.
We've had several concerns about effects to fish in the Boise River due to this.
Our biologists are investigating the issue and have written a description of what they look for to make sure the fish stay happy in the beautiful Boise River.
by Joe Kozfkay, Regional Fisheries Manager
On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, February 3rd and 4th 2015, a series of unfortunate occurrences at east Boise’s Barber Dam (owned by Ada County and operated by Enel Green Power) caused Boise River flows to drop to zero for a period of seven hours.
Maintenance activities are being performed on the dam’s spillway, and to ensure construction crew safety, Barber Pool is being held at less than full pool levels, with all river flows being routed through one turbine. Unfortunately, the gate that allowed water to reach this turbine closed Tuesday night and alarm systems failed. Upstream flows were then caught in Barber Pool, until the point where the pool was refilled and additional water began cresting the dam’s spillway.
During the seven-hour period of zero cubic feet per second river flow over or through Barber Dam, several miles of the Boise River were de-watered or did not receive the “normal” wintertime minimum flow of 240 cubic feet of water per second. Very few people saw the river in this condition as it occurred in the middle of the night. From a fish habitat standpoint, riffles and run habitats were likely severely de-watered, whereas pool habitat likely retained water. Farther downstream areas were less impacted as infiltration of groundwater re-wetted the river channel.
Winter is a critical period for many aquatic species. Dramatic river flow reductions can have negative impacts on aquatic organisms such as fish and invertebrates. Fish survive the winter by reducing activity levels and seeking habitat where they can avoid expending energy while at the same time avoiding predators. This is especially true for young trout. The Boise River possesses wild, spring-spawning rainbow trout and wild, fall-spawning brown trout. Young rainbow trout reside on the river’ edges, usually near downed wood or other cover. A rapid drop in river level may force young rainbow trout to seek alternative cover and become susceptible to predators. It may also cause stranding and death.
For the most part, brown trout spawn throughout the month of November. Boise River water temperatures result in an approximate 60-day brown trout egg incubation period. In early February, young brown trout are just beginning to hatch or have just recently done so. At this critical life stage, water level drops are known to cause brown trout mortality. Other fish species also reside in riffles and near shore areas and may have been affected by the dramatic drop in river flow, including sculpin, dace, and whitefish.
Idaho Fish and Game crews conducted visual surveys of this river segment on Wednesday afternoon, February 4th. No dead adult fish were observed, which was a positive sign. Measurement of potential impacts to young trout and other species are only beginning and will be much more difficult to determine. Crews are at the river today, sampling riffle and river margin areas in the de-watered area and in downstream reaches to make a relative comparison. This should provide some information on possible impacts of the de-watering event.
Other types of suspected impacts may not be readily measured, especially for young trout, non-game fish, or invertebrate numbers and species. Based on the results of these and subsequent surveys, Fish and Game staff will determine whether appropriate mitigation should be pursued from responsible parties.
While Idaho’s 2013-2015 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure will continue to be valid through 2015, a new 2016-2018 brochure is in the early stages of development.
Anglers have the opportunity to shape that rule book by sharing their ideas at one of several upcoming open houses hosted by Idaho Fish and Game staff; see list below. Attendees can also learn the latest and provide input regarding 2015 Chinook salmon seasons and limits.
If you're unable to attend one of the public meetings, you can submit your comments online.
Anglers are encouraged to talk with our Fisheries Biologists at scheduled meeting times listed below or call our Regional Fish Managers at the listed telephone numbers:
Panhandle Region 1 – Jim Fredericks, Regional Fish Manager - 208-769-1414
- Coeur d’Alene: February 17, Lake City Center Sportsman’s Breakfast, 6:30 am
- Coeur d’Alene: February 17, Regional Office 2885 W. Kathleen Ave., 8 am to 5 pm (open house)
- Sandpoint: February 19, Annual State-of-the-Lake Meeting, Ponderay Events Center, 7 – 9:00 pm
Clearwater Region 2 – Joe DuPont, Regional Fish Manager - 208-799-5010
- Orofino: February 19, IDFG Clearwater Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Drive (located northwest of Ahsahka Bridge), 6:00 pm
- Riggins: February 23, Salmon Rapids Lodge, 1010 S. Main Street, 6:00 pm MT
- Lewiston: February 25, Regional Office, 3316 16th Street, 6:00 pm (open house)
- Moscow: February 26, Fairground Exhibit Building, 1021 Harold Street, 6:00 pm
Southwest Region 3 – McCall – Dale Allen, Regional Fish Manager - 208-634-8137
- McCall: February 19, Regional Office 555 Deinhard Lane, noon to 7:00 pm; Salmon Season talk beginning at 7:00 pm (open house)
- Riggins: February 23, Salmon Rapids Lodge, 1010 S. Main Street, 6:00 pm MT
- McCall: February 24, Regional Office 555 Deinhard Lane, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (open house)
- Council: February 25, Council Grange Hall, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Southwest Region 3 – Nampa – Joe Kozfkay, Regional Fish Manager - 208-465-8465
- Nampa: February 17 Regional Office 3101 So. Powerline Road 8 am to 8 pm (open house)
- Boise: February 18 Morrison Knudsen Nature Center, Open House 5 to 7 pm - Salmon season presentation at 7 pm; Nampa and McCall staff
Magic Valley Region 4 – Doug Megargle, Regional Fish Manager - 208-324-4359
- Hailey: February 24, Blaine Co. Community Campus 1050 Fox Acres Road, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
- Burley: February 25, Best Western Inn 800 N. Overland, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
- Jerome: February 26, Regional Office 324 S. 417 E., 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (open house)
Southeast Region 5 – David Teuscher, Regional Fish Manager - 208-232-4703
- Pocatello: February 24, Regional Office 1345 Barton Road, 10:00 am to 6:30 pm (open house)
Upper Snake Region 6 – Dan Garren, Regional Fish Manager - 208-525-7290
- Driggs: February 19, Driggs County Courthouse, 6:30 pm
- Ashton: February 23, Ashton Community Center, 6:30 pm
- Idaho Falls: February 24, Idaho Falls IDFG Regional Office, 6:30 pm (open house)
Salmon Region 7 – Greg Schoby, Regional Fish Manager - 208-756-2271
- Salmon: February 25, IDFG Regional Office, 6:00 pm (open house)
- Challis: February 26, Challis Community Center, 6:00 pm
As expected we saw a large increase in the number of anglers this past weekend due to the Hardwater classic ice derby that was taking place on Saturday. This pressure continued throughout the weekend with a fair number of anglers being observed on Sunday as well. This week the number of anglers out on the ice decreased with only a few people out fishing mid-week. Ice conditions continue to remain steady with approximately 8" of ice around the lake. We’ve been experiencing some warmer temperatures and lows that aren’t getting cold so we’re probably not gaining any ice. There have been numerous reports of pressure cracks throughout the reservoir with open water gaps. The predominant one being noted is around Sugarloaf. As always caution should be taken anytime travelling out on the ice with an atv or snowmobile.
The fishing over the weekend increased significantly with a lot of bigger size perch being brought in. With that being said there was a still a lot of people that were reporting very little success. The winning perch in the Ice derby came in just under 2 lbs. Although I saw a lot of nice fish being harvested there wasn’t a lot of extremely large fish. A majority of the bigger fish being caught over the weekend were in the 13" range with the occasional fish over 14". There were also several nice trout taken over the weekend, but as with the perch the fishing was slow and very inconsistent. The majority of the pressure was seeing around Sugarloaf and with that pressure came the best success from around the lake. Those that were on ATV’s and snowmobiles were about to search out where the fish were and able to catch a reasonable amount of nice fish.
Hopefully we’ll get some colder temperatures and the ice will remain thick for the remainder of the winter. With warm daytime temperatures and no snow on the ice, the ice is very slick and some sort of traction should be used when walking around on it.
This week's ice conditions improved from last week with ice reported between 6-8" everywhere around the lake with some spots with 10+ inches. With that being said we also had a warm spelled sweep through the area on Sunday with rain and warm temps causing the snow that was on top of the ice to melt. Since we have had cold temps the last couple of days that has frozen solid adding another layer of ice to what was already accumulated. Since there is no snow on the ice, the conditions are very slick so caution should be had. There have been a large number of people taking ATV’s and Snowmobiles out on the ice, although caution should be used when taking heavier equipment out on the ice.
The pressure this past week peaked on Saturday which saw a lot of anglers scattered throughout the entire lake both North and South. But with the warm spell on Sunday the fishing pressure dropped quickly with very few anglers being seen on Sunday as well as through the first part of this week. Even with the increased pressure on Saturday catch rates were still relatively slow. Once again perch angler reports of mostly smaller fish and very few quality sized fish coming out. The trout fishing on the South end of the lake near the city boat ramp and Blue Heron boat ramp has proved to be somewhat productive with some nice size trout being taken early this week.
This coming Saturday (1/24) the Hardwater Classic ice fishing derby is being held so pressure through the later part of this week into the weekend should increase significantly. Hopefully with this increased fishing pressure more quality size fish will be found and anglers will have a better idea as to where to focus their effort. Until then the best of luck to anyone out in search of perch through the ice.
Related to ice fishing, here is a picture from South Korea of what real ice fishing competition looks like.
Last weekend, the third annual Horsethief Reservoir Kids Ice Fishing Event was held. This is a great way to introduce your kids to the sport of ice fishing and get out of your house in January. Here are some of the statistics for the event:
-450-500 in attendance
-200 fish cleaned (most of those cooked)
-500 cups of cocoa served
-400 hotdogs, chips, waters served
-200 rods, 100 ice skimmers, 225 platt buckets, and a ton of lures and bait given away to kids.
- A mess of duck calls and hats given to each kid who caught a fish.
Visit the Regional Facebook Page to view the pictures and mark your calendar for the second weekend in 2016 for next year's event!
Lots of smiles and fish could be found at the 6th Annual Youth Ice Fishing Day at Horsethief Reservoir over the weekend. More than 450 eager anglers attended the event where 200 fish were cleaned, 500 cups of cocoa and 400 hotdogs were served, 200 rods and other gear were given away to young anglers. Photos of the event can be seen on Idaho Youth Outdoors Facebook page.