Patience Pays Off

"Caught this one at Granite Lake, i.e. the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, at the state line.  Reeled it in about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 8th.  We had been on the river since about 6 a.m. that day.  Using mostly purple shrimp for bait."

- Steve Miller

Another First!

"It was a lot of fun to catch this fish on the Salmon River just upstream from White Bird. This was my first Idaho Steelhead."

- A.J. Balukoff

My first ever steelhead - Jeanne

my first steelhead

"I caught my first ever steelhead on a solo stop in the spring 2011 near the Yankee Fork on the Upper Salmon. Luckily an experienced old-timer was right next to me on the bank to coach me through it since I had never hooked one before (and took the photo too!). It was so much fun and especially great to share the excitement with strangers fishing next to me."

- Jeanne

Steelhead Fishing Comes to the Boise River

More than 250 steelhead will be stocked in the Boise River on Thursday, November 10, the first of four planned stocking efforts during the next few weeks.  The fish will be stocked from Glenwood Bridge to Barber Park. Additional stockings are planned for Thursday, November 17, Tuesday, November 22 and Thursday, December 1, weather permitting.

Because of their size - six to 12 pounds - the actual number of steelhead stocked will depend on the capacity of the tanker truck hauling the fish from Oxbow Hatchery on the Snake River.

Anglers hoping to tangle with one of the hatchery steelhead need a $12.75 steelhead permit and a fishing license. Barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead fishing, unlike other steelhead waters.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River lack an adipose fin - the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin. Boise River anglers catching a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches without an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead. Any steelhead caught by an angler not holding a steelhead permit must immediately be returned to the water.

Steelhead limits on the Boise River are three fish per day, nine in possession, and 20 for the fall season.

Helpful Map Web sites for Hunters

I wanted to look up the boundaries on some state land the other day and went to the Kootenai County website.  It’s a dang good site for those of us wanting to know who owns what land.  Basically, just go to the Kootenai County website.  Click on the layers button (to the right of the green i) and make sure at least the parcel polygon layer is checked.  Zoom into whatever are you want to look at.  The thin blue lines are outlines of property boundaries.  Now you can click on the blue i and click on any of those parcels.  The program should bring up land ownership in a box on the right.  A lot more here, and I’ll leave it to you to explore.  Good site.

Most (not all) counties have their own website and it’s a toss of the dice whether you can easily find maps and land ownership.  None of the other 4 Panhandle Counties had wonderful sites (Bonner County was ok.)  If you want to see what’s available in your own hunting area, go to{DA621DF6-70BE-4437-BE02-B1431FDA93CA} for a list of county websites.  Good luck.

North Idaho Bears and 2011 Huckleberry Crop

About 50 of you responded with an opinion on the huckleberry crop this year – THANKS!  I got results back from several parts of Idaho, and some from Washington as well.  Looking just at the Idaho Panhandle, individual experiences ranged all the way from “A” to “F” grade.  When it was all said and done, as a group you rated the 2011 huck crop as a C minus.  Not particularly good, but not totally out of whack either.  Units 1, 4 and 4A stand out with the poorest crops this year (in general), while Unit 5 was the only unit to get a B average:

Overall C-
1 D+
2 C-
3 C+
4 D+
4A D
5 B
6 C
7 C
9 C


Bears do just fine with serviceberries, buffalo berries, raspberries, elderberries, etc., but huckleberries are key.  In poor huck years, several things happen the next winter:

  • Cubs (and some yearlings) survive poorly in the den that winter.  In real bad years, very few cubs will make it and we’ll lose most of an age class.  We can track this for years from the ages of harvested bears (we get the age from that tooth we swipe from you by counting the rings just like a tree).
  • Few new cubs are born the next year.  Female bears generally have to reach 100 lbs before their body will allow them to have cubs, and you’d be surprised at how many come up short of that in poor berry years.  It’s not surprising to lose most of this age class as well after a bad berry year.
  • The second year’s cub crop can also be affected a bit by poor female body condition.  Often we’ll see a reduction here as well, even though another year has gone by.  It seems that some females can’t recuperate in just one summer and birth rates can still be somewhat lower that second year.

The population dynamics of bears depends a lot on the amount of available food.  In Idaho, the means berries to a large degree.  Our bears are relatively small, and reproductive rates are slow.  In the eastern US, adult bears are substantially larger.  There, they have plenty of berries, but they also have a lot of “hard mast” and in particular acorns and beechnuts.  These are packed with oils (calories) and bears there can put on weight fast.  We can’t compete with that, but then again….they don’t get to live out here!

Generally, with a poor huck year, we see an increase in the fall harvest, as well as complaints of bears in towns.  Often this increase is mostly made up of male bears, for whatever reason (males generally move around more than females, so maybe that’s tied in somehow).  Based on the huck report, we might see a bit of an increase in the fall harvest, but maybe not as much as I was anticipating based on my own observations.

Hunting seasons are underway in many units, and finally we’re getting some cool weather late this week.  It’ll probably go right from hot and dry to cold and wet, but who cares – time to hit the field.  Best of luck to you!