Ducks down from last year, but above long term average
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual North American waterfowl breeding and population habitat survey showed 2017 habitat conditions were similar to, or improved, compared to 2016, with a few exceptions. In the traditional survey areas across North America, the total duck population estimate was 47.3 million birds, which is similar to the 2016 estimate of 48.4 million, and 34 percent higher than the long-term average from 1955 to 2016.
The federal harvest information program estimates, on average, over 16,000 hunters harvest over 237,000 ducks and 63,600 Canada geese in Idaho annually. Mallards comprise over 65 percent of the annual duck harvest.
The top-five most harvested ducks in Idaho include mallards, American wigeon, American green-winged teal, gadwall, and common goldeneye. Idaho hunters harvest more Canada geese and common goldeneyes than any other state in the Pacific Flyway.
Read more online at idfg.idaho.gov/press/waterfowl-forecast-duck-numbers-down-last-year-above-long-term-average.
Chukar hunters get off to good start
Upland bird hunting has started in many areas of the state and reports are trickling in about fair to good hunting for chukars in a couple of popular areas: Lower Hells Canyon and the Owyhee Desert.
Chukar season opened Sept. 16, and upland game currently available for hunters include forest grouse, California and bobwhite quail, chukar and gray partridge.
Sharptail grouse opens in Oct. 1, and youth pheasant hunting opens Oct. 7.
For open areas and full upland bird hunting regulations, see the upland bird hunting rules.
From the Clearwater Region:
Two conservation officers working the Snake River on the opening weekend reported seeing, and hunters finding, good numbers of chukar and good production.
Their impressions were they saw more birds this year than last.
Hunters on Craig Mountain also found good numbers of chukar and gray partridge. Chukar were well distributed and found from the Snake River to the ridgetops.
With the recent rain and cool temperatures, birds will likely stay well scattered for the foreseeable future. Good numbers of gray partridge were found at lower elevations as usual.
Chinook fall harvest season sees bump
IDFG saw fishing effort pick up in the Lewiston area last week.
On the Snake River at the confluence, there has been an increase to the number of fall chinook harvested this week. The majority of the harvest has been un-clipped jacks, a few hatchery jacks, and this week we checked several hatchery adults. The greatest fall chinook fishing effort has been at the confluence, but anglers have also been fishing Heller Bar and Hells Canyon Dam.
The dam counts are picking up over lower Granite which brings the potential for more harvest.
The Clearwater had a few adult fall chinook salmon harvested this week with the majority of them harvested in the area below the Camas Prairie Railroad bridge and the mouth of the Clearwater River. Anglers targeting steelhead (catch and release only) have been mainly in the area between the 95 bridge and Steelhead Park access site.
Fish and Game board approves coho fishing
The Idaho Fish and Game commissioners approved a coho fishing season, the Lewiston Tribune reported Tuesday, Oct. 3. But the board delayed a decision to renew steelhead harvest seasons.
The rejected proposal, released by fisheries managers Friday, would have allowed anglers to harvest hatchery-bred steelhead while requiring them to release larger B-run fish bound for the Clearwater River and its tributaries. Steelhead harvest was closed statewide Aug. 15.
Numbers of Idaho-bound hatchery steelhead, while still low, have improved over the past six weeks and state fisheries managers now believe the run can sustain limited harvest without jeopardizing hatchery spawning levels. But commissioners hesitated and said in a 6-0 vote they want to give anglers more time to comment on the proposal, and they want fisheries managers to continue to monitor steelhead passage at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. Through Sunday, 13,415 steelhead had been counted at the dam. The 10-year average is 87,634.