Rifle hunting season opens Friday; chinook biting

Deer hunters are gearing up for opening day across Idaho, as numbers are up and opportunity is high. Three consecutive mild winters across most of Idaho are resulting in unusually high numbers of mule deer and whitetail deer. Survival rates have been higher than average in five of the last six years.

Biologists say mild winters and good summer conditions allow bucks to put additional energy into antler growth, so 2014 will not only be good opportunity to take a deer, but also provides potential to bag a trophy. That opportunity is especially high in places where winter generally takes a more significant toll on deer herds.

In July the Fish and Game Commission approved a significant discount in the price of second tags. Thousands of hunters are taking advantage of the opportunity, but some second tags are still available. For more information on the second tag discount go to: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/tagdiscount.

“With second tags at a discount and unusually high deer populations, 2014 could be the best opportunity we’ll see in Idaho in a long time” said State Wildlife Chief Jeff Gould.

Unclipped fall chinook must be released

Fish and Game has received numerous calls regarding the rules for keeping fall chinook salmon. Apparently there is some confusion among anglers who are under the impression that fall chinook jacks (those less than 24 inches) can be kept even if they have an adipose fin. This is definitely not the case.

Regardless of size, any chinook salmon taken during any season in Idaho must have a clipped adipose fin (as evidenced by a healed scar). Anglers encountering others who illegally retain salmon with adipose fins are encouraged to contact Citizens Against Poaching at 800-632-5999. You may remain anonymous, and if you provide information that leads to a citation, you may be eligible for a cash reward.

The rules for chinook salmon fishing are online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=110.

Riggins-area outfit Exodus River Adventures noted dam counts “continue to be good with 108,025 steelhead having crossed Lower Granite Dam as of last Sunday, Oct. 5...up 43,563 from this time last year and just shy of the 10-year-average by 4,887.”

IDFG’s three reasons for Clearwater River limits

Numbers: Only about 25% of the hatchery fish released into the Clearwater River are clipped. Thus, when you mix in the wild fish only about 15% of the fish are clipped.

Crowding: The Clearwater River is a very popular place to catch-and-release steelhead, and has been for many years. Opening a fall chinook season at the same time could increase crowding.

Tribal considerations: The Nez Perce Tribe is largely responsible for rebuilding the fall chinook run in Idaho. Most of the Clearwater River is in the Nez Perce Tribal Reservation. IDFG considers their concerns and interests.

—Joe DuPont, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game Clearwater Region fishery manager

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