Bull elk gets tangled in backyard swing

After a bull elk got entangled in a backyard swing south of Ketchum, residents are reminded to remove all lawn furniture and playground equipment during the winter months to avoid wildlife entanglements.

Wood River Valley residents notified Idaho Fish and Game on Jan. 11 that a bull elk had his antlers caught in a backyard swing while still attached to the tree at a home in Gimlet, south of Ketchum. Before officers arrived, the elk had broken free of the tree, but the remaining wooden seat of the swing as well as several feet of rope remained caught in the antlers. It was determined that the only way to free the elk was to anesthetize the elk using a dart.

According to Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd this was the second time that this bull had a run-in with a piece of backyard equipment. In mid-October the same bull elk became entangled in a large hammock that nearly took his life when it became water-soaked when the bull went into the Big Wood River.

All big game that receives an anesthetizing drug is given a green ear tag with a unique identification number. Once the Fish and Game team was able to inspect the bull, they found the existing ear tag that confirmed it was the same elk from the October incident.

“All backyard furniture and playground equipment needs to be removed and secured during the winter months,” Hurd said. “Wildlife can easily get entangled in this equipment which puts the animal at risk, but it also puts the Fish and Game team at risk when using drugs to anesthetize the animal and working to free them from backyard equipment.”

Residents are encouraged to inspect their yards for items that can ensnare wildlife and put everything away in the garage or other secure storage area. Big game animals like deer, elk and moose are especially susceptible to entanglement in ropes, swings, wires, cords and strings of lights because of their large antlers. Entangled wildlife can sometimes asphyxiate, die from exhaustion, or injure themselves in efforts to get free.

Bull elk tangles in backyard swing near Ketchum

After a bull elk entangled in a backyard swing south of Ketchum, residents are reminded to remove all lawn furniture and playground equipment during the winter months to avoid wildlife entanglements.

Wood River Valley residents notified Idaho Fish and Game on Jan. 11 that a bull elk had his antlers caught in a backyard swing while still attached to the tree at a home in Gimlet, south of Ketchum. Before officers arrived, the elk had broken free of the tree, but the remaining wooden seat of the swing as well as several feet of rope remained caught in the antlers. It was determined that the only way to free the elk was to anesthetize the elk using a dart.

According to Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd this was the second time that this bull had a run-in with a piece of backyard equipment. In mid-October the same bull elk became entangled in a large hammock that nearly took his life when it became water-soaked when the bull went into the Big Wood River.

All big game that receives an anesthetizing drug is given a green ear tag with a unique identification number. Once the Fish and Game team was able to inspect the bull, they found the existing ear tag that confirmed it was the same elk from the October incident.

“All backyard furniture and playground equipment needs to be removed and secured during the winter months,” Hurd said. “Wildlife can easily get entangled in this equipment which puts the animal at risk, but it also puts the Fish and Game team at risk when using drugs to anesthetize the animal and working to free them from backyard equipment.”

Residents are encouraged to inspect their yards for items that can ensnare wildlife and put everything away in the garage or other secure storage area. Big game animals like deer, elk and moose are especially susceptible to entanglement in ropes, swings, wires, cords and strings of lights because of their large antlers. Entangled wildlife can sometimes asphyxiate, die from exhaustion, or injure themselves in efforts to get free.

My last duck hunt of the winter

Had a fun week last week. The owner of Knives of Alaska, Charles Allen, called me a while back and asked me if I’d be interested in helping him do a project in which we’d bone out a wagyu steer, a hog and a deer.

But let me back up. I approached him years ago about producing a boning knife for the outdoorsman.

Last year, he called me and told me that he had made one and wanted to send me a prototype to test, review and suggest improvements on. He sent me the prototype to work with. We made one little tweak and it was ready to roll. Due to COVID-19 it took a minute to get a sheath made but we were now in the saddle which brought up this project.

In the meantime, “The High Road With Keith Warren” crew was brought into the mix and before long it had turned into a huge project. Keith, his daughter, Matti Tackett, and photographer, Johnny Piazza, were soon rolling up to the gate at Charles’s ranch in Texas and we all met up. We were going to bone out all of the animals and produce what I think turned out to be the best big-game cooking show ever. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

But, in the meantime, this article is about duck hunting. We were going to duck hunt Tuesday and Wednesday morning along with the four-day processing/cooking project. I used to duck hunt a bit but don’t get to much anymore. In fact, for whatever reason I don’t get to shoot my shotgun much anymore compared to used to. I used to shoot a lot but not the last few years and it showed. My shooting was horrible. In fact, embarrassing. To make matters worse, I was in a blind close to Charles who, to the best of my knowledge, has never missed a duck! (Or is close to that status.)

But despite my embarrassing shooting skills it was a great hunt. The first morning the sun peeked over the horizon to find us on a small lake off of the Trinity River bottom. Charles had buried some septic tanks and improvised them into blinds. A few days before, I don’t want to say it flash flooded but it had come a torrential downpour and dislodged the blinds. Charles suggested waiting three to four days to proceed but all of us already had plane tickets and projects right after this one so despite hurting our duck hunting it was set in stone.

The first morning the shooting was semi slow but I still should have had eight ducks. I only ended up killing — well… I’m not telling how many but you could count them on one finger. Matti won the outstanding shot of the day award. A jet flew over at 32,000 feet and she had to let the jet get out of the way so she could make her shot. I figure that he was about 40,000 feet high.

But despite my horrible shooting it was great to get out. Gee, I love sun-up in the outdoors. It was a bluebird day so when the sun peeked over the horizon and the sun rays skipped across the water it was gorgeous.

About 10 a.m. we headed to the lodge to clean birds, eat a great breakfast that Charles’ wife Jody had whipped out and start filming.

Charles is a big-time waterfowl hunter and had been bummed about the recent flooding which had dispersed the birds. They were coming back and he’d seen I believe he said 150 down on his flooded timber area which is what we hunted Wednesday morning.

Wednesday morning we got up, slammed down a cup of coffee and had a few slices of bread that Jody had baked and took off in the dark. It was overcast and we had intermittent sprinkling, perfect duck weather. Charles was wanting us to have a good hunt so I could tell that he was more optimistic.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason the ducks weren’t flying and if I remember correctly, we only got a few. Well, time to go back to the lodge, eat and then hit ram speed and get to work.

If you’ve never got to duck hunt much you have to try it out. It can be addictive. Especially if you have a good set-up. The first couple of years you need to hunt with an experienced hunter so you can learn how to lay out your spread, call, etc.

Ducks are tough birds and have thick feathers. If you’re shooting mallards cupped up and landing on top of you or if you’re a good shot you can get by using a 20 gauge. And I did for years as a kid but I’d suggest you get a 12 gauge With a 3-inch chamber.

A lot of people have a bad view of eating ducks but Charles cooked up some Wednesday night that were the best that I have ever had. He said the secret is not to over cook them. Maybe someday I can get him to share his recipe.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

Pandemic helps reel in more Idaho anglers

The numbers don’t lie. More Idahoans and people across the nation decided to take up fishing or return to fishing in huge numbers this past summer.

Experts, and at least one study, point to Americans rediscovering the outdoors during the pandemic. In Idaho, fishing license sales generally increase a few thousand each year, but in 2020 more than 41,000 more people bought fishing licenses from January to through October compared with all of 2019 — 2019: 185,812 and 2020: 226,928 (January through Oct. 31).

The rush to do more things outdoors did not go unnoticed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

“The South Fork at times was especially crowded,” said James Brower, regional communications manager for Fish and Game. “Camping was more crowded. Those places that are well-known and easy to access and close to the major population centers, those places got pounded pretty hard.”

Brower said family fishing ponds, such as those at Ryder Park, were busy almost daily.

A national study and survey sponsored by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation found that when Americans saw their typical summer activities and vacations squashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they turned to outdoor recreation. Many people were trying activities for the first time.

“With all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, fishing and boating provide a host of benefits including peace and relaxation, quality time with family and loved ones and even simply the calming effect of nature,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.

The group’s national study found that millions of new anglers are “younger, more urban and more diverse” and nine out of 10 new anglers plan on continuing with the activity in the future.

In Idaho Falls, Samuel Helmuth said he took up fly fishing last year.

“No knowledge and not much gear except a rod and dry flies, but I’m hooked,” Helmuth said. He said the pandemic influenced his push to fish and “it was a good way to get out and socially distance while trying to find small streams to wade through.”

Taylor Rusinsky of East Idaho said, “I took up fly fishing this summer. It has been a huge learning curve but I am loving every second of it.”

Heidi Carson of Idaho Falls took up “tenkara” fly fishing last year. Tenkara fishing is a simple, reel-less type of fishing imported from Japan usually done in mountain streams.

“I was getting outside more because of COVID, hiking and backpacking,” Carson said. “I like fishing in general but gear is heavy to pack. I discovered the tenkara fly fishing rod … The whole things weighs and packs down to half the size of a flute. It is fun and an effective way to fish while hiking.”

Carson said she started up an outdoor women’s Facebook page last year and now has more than 300 followers.

“I think it is because of COVID that more people are getting outside,” she said. “Among other things, I wanted to put together a small group in my group of tenkara hikers.”

Fish and Game said it is happy to see the resurgence in outdoor activities and encourages the use of the resource.

“Nationwide, the trend is that hunting and fishing are on a slight decline,” Brower said of years past. “In Idaho, we’ve been pretty lucky. We’ve been stable or sometimes on a slight increase. Partly that’s due to the fact that a lot of people move to Idaho because of the resources that we have here, the public land that we have to enjoy and the hunting and fishing opportunities. For many people it’s the reason they’re coming to Idaho.”

Not everyone is happy about the resurgence fishing has seen. A Facebook query had some grumping about crowds, more trash, and out-of-state anglers.

“Every single time I floated the river this summer (30+ times) non-resident plates outnumbered local plates. And I rarely floated on weekends,” one poster wrote.

Make an outdoors new year’s resolution

I don’t want to say that hunting — and — fishing has eternal consequences but since most people are going to break their new year’s resolutions let’s at least make some temporal outdoor New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s why I say this and am writing this article. I meet a million people every year that in talking to me tell me that they used to hunt a lot as a kid, used to fish a lot until they had kids, used to elk hunt a lot until their buddies moved/died and on and on the list goes. Or it may be as simple as you just moved to Idaho and don’t know where to hunt/fish anymore. But whatever the scenario, let’s make plans to get you back in the outdoors.

I’m a believer that if something is the right thing to do, then do it right now. So with that said, let’s get started.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY/MARCH

ICE FISHING — Ice fishing is relatively inexpensive. Buy an auger, few ice fishing rods, jigs, bait, hole scooper and you’re good to go. As you get more into it, you’ll want a gas auger.

SNOWSHOEING — Great way to get up in the mountains and hike around. There are groomed trails or you can go hit the trails in your elk hunting haunts. And for sure throw in the fixings to build a fire and heat up some hot chocolate.

COUGAR HUNTING — You can try to call one in but your chances are better if you hunt with dogs.

VARMINT HUNTING — Winter varmint hunting is great fun. Buy a FoxPro electronic call. You’ll also want some Montana Decoys.

WOLF HUNTING — As is the popular saying, kill a wolf and save 52 deer/elk per year.

SET HOME AND COMPLAIN ABOUT THE COLD — Not an option.

APRIL/MAY/JUNE

(Seasons start and stop during these three months, check the regs.)

TURKEY HUNTING — Turkey hunting is a big deal in Idaho. You’ll want to get a good call like a 4-Play Turkey Call, Montana Decoys and HEVI-Shot turkey loads.

BEAR HUNTING — I love bear hunting. Idaho has some awesome bear hunting. To get a big bruiser it’s best to put in for one of the draws.

CRAPPIE FISHING — To hear/read the Southern boys talk you’d think that they had the corner on crappie fishing. Not so. We have unbelievable crappie fishing here in Idaho/Oregon. Me and a buddy will get well over 200 every trip when things get hot and that’s in only five to seven hours of fishing.

MUSHROOM HUNTING — If you ask why I listed mushroom hunting then you’ve never eaten a morel. They’re the best fungi in the world, second only to the truffle in England.

JULY/AUGUST (Finally summer has hit in the mountains.)

BACKPACKING — What’s cooler than backpacking? You’re in the coolest country that God ever made, fishing/hiking and having a blast.

FLY FISHING — I know, many of you flyfish year-round but now you can get up in the high country. The season actually opens Labor Day but back where I go you can’t get there until after July 4.

HUCKLEBERRIES/THIMBLE BERRIES — Wild berries are the best, whether you’re eating them as fast as you pick them, making jam or homemade ice cream. You just can’t go wrong if a huckleberry is involved!

RAFTING — Idaho is the No. 1 whitewater rafting state. I’ve still got to line up a three- to five-day backcountry fly fishing rafting trip. My buddies catch a million fish.

FOUR-WHEELING — You live in Idaho. Buy a four-wheeler! There are 50,000,000 trails. Four-wheeling is a blast. P.S. Be careful. I’ve flipped a four-wheeler a couple of times and it never turned out to be a pleasant experience.

SEPTEMBER

BOW HUNTING — Actually bowhunting opens the end of August but anymore I wait until the second or third week of September when it gets cool and the elk start bugling.

GROUSE HUNTING — Grouse hunting is a good excuse to get up in the mountains and scout for elk/deer before season.

BACKCOUNTRY FLY FISHING — I’m a big bowhunter but the last five to eight years I find myself more and more fly fishing in the backcountry until the first of September. Everyone else is hunting and I have the rivers to myself. Water levels have dropped, fish are congregated and I drill them. What more can you ask for?

ANTELOPE HUNTING — I love antelope hunting. They’re a cool animal. The only thing bad is that you have to put in for a draw to get a tag.

MOOSE HUNTING — I’m sunk. I’ve already killed my lifetime cow and bull moose but moose hunting is the best. They are huge animals and will require some serious packing out. Put in for a draw and you’ll have plenty of meat for the upcoming year.

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER/DECEMBER (Showtime! Big game season is in full swing. This is why we live in Idaho.)

DEER, ELK, BEAR, BIG HORN, GOAT, WOLF HUNTING — Idaho is at her finest and is shining in all of her splendor!

WATERFOWL HUNTING — Many hunters live for waterfowl hunting. It can provide high speed fun shooting.

I am way out of room but Idaho has a million more activities to offer than I’ve listed above. Sorry if I didn’t get to list your favorite activity but the editor has turned off the ink and is shutting me down. I didn’t even get to talk about putting in for drawings. We’re over blessed here in Idaho.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

Prepare to meet thy doom (not really)

OK, maybe I’m being a little bit of a drama queen with this title but it is winter and I’m sitting inside typing this article and there is a skiff of snow outside. Not that many years ago, winter was looked upon as a time that many wouldn’t survive. I think the further away from agriculture we get as a society the more we lose touch with reality.

Think about why I say that last sentence. Winters are tough on livestock. If you lost the family milk cow you were in trouble. If it was a long winter and you didn’t have enough hay stored up you were in trouble. If a wet cold spring hits during calving season and you have lost a lot of newborn calves, you’re sunk.

I think outdoorsmen are tied in close enough to nature to understand the above even if they don’t run livestock. They see how deep snows can be devastating on the deer and elk herds. Life/death in the outdoors is so weather dependent.

So up until not that many decades ago the above was the view held concerning winter. In old writings winter was written about with a foreboding aura. But a few decades ago, something changed and now many people can’t wait for winter to hit. There are now all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy. Let’s list a few. Ice fishing, varmint hunting, cougar hunting, snowshoeing, skiing, trapping, snowmobiling and even winter camping. Many people look forward to cross country skiing to a backcountry yurt.

What caused the shift in views the last 30 years as compared to that of previous history? I think it can be summed up in two things:

• Better clothing

• Multiple warming methods

You may argue with me and say Tom, the reason I go out is because of the advent of snowmobiles, etc. I’d have to argue though that if it weren’t for warm clothing a lot of these inventions would have had no necessity because no one could get out. So, since we can now brave the cold better than any previous time in history smart manufacturers are inventing more cool toys.

Sure, old mountain men went out in the wilds trapping and living in cabins and skiing and snowshoeing have been around for centuries but not to the magnitude that they are now. Make sense?

So, with all of the above said what clothing do you need to brave the wilds in Idaho? I’m going to get basic because we have a lot of new people moving to Idaho. To begin, you’ll want to wear what we call a base layer. In the cowboy days they called them long handles. But they were made of cotton. You want a moisture wicking base layer. If we’re outdoors we want to be active which means you’ll be sweating. When you stop, you’ll get chilled. You might as well have fallen in a river because you’ll encounter the same effects. I use XGO. You’ll want them made out of polypropylene, silk, wool or something of that nature.

For pants, wear something water resistant. I’d rather it be in the low 20’s than right at freezing. Otherwise, if you’re bird hunting and getting in and out of a truck your pants legs will thaw then freeze, repeat and be like wearing irrigation pipes. Wool shirts are great.

For a coat don’t wear one big Grizzly Adams type of coat. Dress in layers, maybe a fleece jacket and a lined shell over it. That way if you’re snowshoeing and get a little warm you can peel off one layer and not pull off your only coat resulting in two options — hot or freezing. Also don’t buy waist-length coats. Longer coats are a lot warmer.

SOCKS

Same with base layering, get moisture wicking socks. There are a lot of good options for hiking socks.

And for sure wear waterproof insulated boots. When the deeper snows hit, wear high-top boots so snow doesn’t go over the top (curse of all curses). Also wear gaiters which will prevent this.

WARNING

Remember — COTTON KILLS! Cotton holds moisture. Don’t wear cotton clothing.

The experts tell us that 95% of our heat loss is on our head. If your head is not adequately covered blood vessels are only skin deep and you will lose heat. Wear a balaclava and a good toboggan. NEVER buy a coat or jacket without a hood. Even on a light coat a hood keeps the wind from zooming down your neck. It also keeps snow/rain from doing the same.

I always wear a cap. With the hood over the cap even in rain my face doesn’t get wet and it keeps my glasses semi dry.

GLOVES

Buy some good gloves. Waterproof. Also think about glove liners. But you don’t want them super tight. Semi loose so it doesn’t prevent good circulation. And get gloves with long sleeves.

HEATING AIDS

There are a lot of external heat sources. Hot pads that last for 4-6 hours, rechargeable boot inserts and propane tent heaters. For your snowmobile/four-wheelers they have hand covers and hand heaters that are a life saver when zipping around.

Uggh! I feel like I am barely getting started and we are out of room. Check out some of these options and be safe. Don’t set by the fire this winter, get out and have fun.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

Ice fishing means winter fun, and here’s how (and where) to get started

We have good news for anglers: There’s no off season for fishing in Idaho, and we don’t believe in cabin fever when there are so many outdoor activities during winter. Ice fishing provides a fun way to get out of the house for a day or a weekend and catch fish.

Ice fishing is pretty self explanatory, and all you need aside from your regular fishing tackle is an ice auger and a slotted spoon to keep slush out of the ice hole. Anglers should also know basic ice safety, which is 3 to 4 inches of clear ice for one person and more for a group.

Anglers looking for places to go ice fishing can probably find one within a couple hours’ drive and find some interesting fishing opportunities.

When choosing a place to go ice fishing, pay close attention to access. You will need a parking area, and an easy place to walk onto the ice. If you visit a lake or reservoir during summer, those access sites could be blocked by snow. Fish and Game has partnered with various agencies to help provide ice fishing access and many locations.

If you’re new to ice fishing, or have never fished at all, don’t be discouraged from trying it because it’s easy to get started.

Bring basic tackle, such as hooks and weights, some bait (worms work for nearly everything), and give it a try. You will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t and adapt accordingly, and you will also quickly learn why it’s a fun and unique way to go fishing, as well as a great way to get outdoors during winter.

But a quick word of caution. Idaho is a very diverse state when it comes to climate and geography, so be sure to check local conditions before you go ice fishing. Idaho’s prime ice fishing season typically runs December through February, but conditions can vary dramatically from place to place.

It’s also home to some very good ice fishing locations that offer fun, unique and interesting experiences. Here, in no particular order, are a few places to check out this winter.

Lake Cascade

Arguably Idaho’s best ice fishing destination thanks to a massive restoration effort conducted by Fish and Game in the early 2000s. The reservoir’s perch population rebounded and flourished and produced numerous state and world’s records, which has attracted anglers from throughout the country seeking its “jumbo” perch. While perch are the main attraction, the reservoir also has lots of rainbow trout, many of which are trophy sized, as well kokanee salmon and a variety of other fish.

Quality fishing is the obvious attraction, but a big bonus for anglers is its proximity to the town of Cascade, which offers full services for visitors. Fish and Game partners with Idaho Parks and Recreation and the US Bureau of Reclamation to ensure there’s easy access during winter at various points around the lake.

Lake Cascade is massive at 21 miles long and up to 4.5 miles wide, and due in part to its large size, the fish can congregate in certain areas while others are nearly barren. You will often see anglers gathered at favorite fishing spots, especially on weekends, so that gives you a good hint where the best ice fishing is happening.

Magic Reservoir

This reservoir has provided a popular ice fishing destinations for decades thanks to a combination of good fishing, reliable ice and nearby services that cater to ice anglers. The reservoir produces perch, rainbow and brown trout for ice anglers. The reservoir’s surface area varies from year to year depending on how much water is left after summer. This winter the water level is extremely low, so fishing is primarily near the dam, but there is a silver lining. The fish are congregated in the main channel, making for good catch rates. Anglers are catching plenty of perch up to 10 inches, trout up to 20 inches, and an occasional bass.

It is best to access Magic Reservoir through the township of West Magic, but watch weather patterns, as the road is not plowed consistently.

Soldiers Meadow Reservoir

This ice fishing destination is a best kept secret for local kokanee fishing. It is located 20 miles southeast of Lewiston off County Road P2.

Soldiers Meadow is a 124-acre reservoir with 4 miles of shoreline and administered by the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District. Available species include rainbow trout and kokanee. Fish and Game crews stocked nearly 25,000 kokanee in the reservoir in 2020, and it also has rainbow trout available for ice anglers.

Visitors are encouraged to check snow conditions before heading up to this location as the roads are not routinely maintained throughout the winter. Parking can be found in the lot adjacent to the dam along the county road. A restroom is available at the reservoir during winter.

Ririe Reservoir

The Upper Snake region’s chilly climate and accessible lakes and reservoirs gives it a long ice fishing season. In fact, for the last two years, ice anglers have started ice fishing at Henrys Lake around Halloween. Henrys is a great opportunity for anglers with lots of trophy trout, but it also closes on Jan. 2, so Ririe has a longer ice fishing season, as well as good fishing for perch, trout and kokanee.

Based on trends over the last four years, biologists expect anglers will have plenty of kokanee over 12 inches, and perch populations are looking healthy with some fish reaching about 10-inches with lots of slightly smaller perch.

“Anglers can expect ice fishing for kokanee and perch on Ririe to be excellent this winter,” says Fisheries Biologist John Heckel.

Ririe Reservoir is easily accessible at the Juniper Access located near the dam. This access is plowed and maintained through the winter by Bonneville County. There is a $5 access fee for this county site. Ririe Reservoir is located minutes from Idaho Falls and provides some great ice fishing opportunity for much of the winter season.

Bear Lake

Large and unique are two simple words to describe this Southeast Idaho destination. It’s about 20 miles long and 8 miles wide and roughly divided in half between Idaho and Utah, but you can fish with a license from either state.

The lake is unique because it boasts four “endemic” species of fish, which means they exist nowhere else on earth, including Bear Lake whitefish, Bonneville cisco, Bonneville whitefish and Bear Lake sculpin.

Anglers are drawn to the lake for its trophy Bonneville cutthroat trout, lake trout and whitefish. In addition, there’s a unique cisco fishery where fish are dipnetted through the ice during the fishes’ winter spawning season.

Ice anglers need to be aware of special rules, which include:

• One line only when ice fishing. Two-lines permitted when ice fishing with a two-pole permit.

• Trout limit is two; only Cutthroat Trout with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept.

• Cisco limit is 30; dip-netting permitted Jan. 1 through Feb. 15. Dip nets no larger than 18 inches in any dimension. Any size hole may be cut through the ice to catch cisco.

• Whitefish limit is 10.

The lake is a vacation destination, so there’s a wide range of services and various accommodations from motels to vacation rentals.

Williams Lake

Williams Lake is probably the most popular and easy to access ice fishing water in the Salmon Region. There’s parking and nearby restrooms at the Forest Service boat ramp on the west end.

The 180-acre lake has naturally reproducing rainbow trout that can reach in excess of 20 inches. The trout in Williams Lake tend to suspend in the water column and favor Power Bait, worms or eggs. As winter progresses, fish closer to the surface because oxygen levels in the lake tend to become depleted, thus confining fish to the upper portions of the lake. Move around if you are not finding fish and change your bait often.

Williams Lake is about a 30- to 45-minute drive from Salmon depending on road conditions, so bring what you need on your fishing trip.

Cool new aids for rifles, shotguns

Soon after getting married, Katy told me that I was the eternal tightwad. I told her that I wasn’t a tightwad, I was just thrifty. She puts her hands on her hips and says, “Well, you’ve carried it to a new level.”

I told her I didn’t have much as a kid and learned to get by with what I had. She informed me that I was no longer a kid and I had a real job, a good job and I needed to loosen up some.

So with the above said, there are some items on the market that can make working on your guns a lot simpler. Let’s cover a few of those items. Up until … OK, maybe 10 years ago, anytime I was going to clean a rifle or mount a scope I’d pile some blankets on the kitchen table to cradle my rifle. Needless to say, that didn’t provide for a very stable work station.

When mounting a scope, it is not conducive to obtaining good results if the rifle slips and bounces off the table. Ditto with the scope. You need something firm and steady holding your rifle. Same when cleaning your guns.

The ultimate tool to solve the above problems is the Otis Elite Range Box. It is like a giant tackle box. Remove the top and put the two forks in place to cradle your rifle. Now you’re ready to work. Another big feature is that it has ample room to store all of your cleaning patches, oils, solvents and tools. On the side of the forks are slots to hold your cleaning rods. I love these boxes for cleaning my rifles/shotguns and for mounting scopes or working on them. You can also carry it to the gun range. After you get one you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.

Another important thing is a stable bench to shoot off of. Ninety percent of the time I go out on the prairies to do my shooting/sighting in my rifles and shotguns. That way I don’t have to work around anyone at the gun range and hold them up or vice versa. But one benefit that a gun range has is that they have a steady bench and seat.

For a few years I shot off the tailgate. Then I started taking a chair and then I really moved up and for years used a card table and chair and piled blankets/coats on the table to rest my rifle on. Still not the ultimate.

Replace the blankets with range bags. It seems for every different gun that you need a little bit different of elevation to get comfortable so get a variety of bags to accommodate your different needs.

Now I use a Caldwell Stable Table. It is a collapsible table and seat. It is durable and easy to slap up or fold-up and store at home. It’s handy.

Another item that came out years ago was the Caldwell Lead Sled. It was a device that held your rifle so you could shoot and it wouldn’t kick you as bad. This is a big deal if you’re shooting a lot of rifles or big bore guns. If you’re flinching then you can’t get good groups. To reduce recoil, you lay lead shot bags on the sled, hence the name Lead Sled.

But a couple of years ago Caldwell came out with their Hydro Sled. It has a reservoir that you fill with water to give it weight which reduces recoil. I use it now instead of my Lead Sled.

If I’ve got many rifles to sight in, I always take my sled. If not, by the time I get two to three new rifles sighted in it is hard not to flinch which prevents me from obtaining decent groups.

But where I really got to loving my Lead Sled was years ago. I was doing an article for Bass Pro Shop on the best turkey loads and had to sample a ton of different turkey loads. You want to talk about getting pounded! Go shoot a couple of boxes of 3 ½-inch HEVI Shot ga. Turkey loads. That will make you cry Uncle. But with my Caldwell Lead Sled, no problemo.

SUMMARY

So to ease your pains when mounting a scope, putting a red dot scope on your shotgun, cleaning your rifle/shotgun or just to keep all of your cleaning supplies and gun tools organized, get a range box.

To provide a stable rest for sighting in your rifles, patterning your shotguns and seeing what your gun is actually capable of shooting, invest in a Caldwell Stable Table and some bench bags.

Then if you want to go all out and hit the next level you might want to check out these two items.

1. Caldwell Ballistic Precision Target Camera. The younger techie crowd will like this. With the app and using your cell phone it allows you to observe where your bullet hits the target.

2. Caldwell Chronograph to measure bullet speeds. These are an aid to tell you your reloading results. I like to know how fast my airguns fly, when I start losing accuracy or performance etc.

SECOND SUMMARY

As Katy would say, “Boys and their toys.”

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

Cool new items for rifles, shotguns

Soon after getting married, Katy told me that I was the eternal tightwad. I told her that I wasn’t a tightwad, I was just thrifty. She puts her hands on her hips and says, “Well, you’ve carried it to a new level.”

I told her I didn’t have much as a kid and learned to get by with what I had. She informed me that I was no longer a kid and I had a real job, a good job and I needed to loosen up some.

So with the above said, there are some items on the market that can make working on your guns a lot simpler. Let’s cover a few of those items. Up until … OK, maybe 10 years ago, anytime I was going to clean a rifle or mount a scope I’d pile some blankets on the kitchen table to cradle my rifle. Needless to say, that didn’t provide for a very stable work station.

When mounting a scope, it is not conducive to obtaining good results if the rifle slips and bounces off the table. Ditto with the scope. You need something firm and steady holding your rifle. Same when cleaning your guns.

The ultimate tool to solve the above problems is the Otis Elite Range Box. It is like a giant tackle box. Remove the top and put the two forks in place to cradle your rifle. Now you’re ready to work. Another big feature is that it has ample room to store all of your cleaning patches, oils, solvents and tools. On the side of the forks are slots to hold your cleaning rods. I love these boxes for cleaning my rifles/shotguns and for mounting scopes or working on them. You can also carry it to the gun range. After you get one you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.

Another important thing is a stable bench to shoot off of. Ninety percent of the time I go out on the prairies to do my shooting/sighting in my rifles and shotguns. That way I don’t have to work around anyone at the gun range and hold them up or vice versa. But one benefit that a gun range has is that they have a steady bench and seat.

For a few years I shot off the tailgate. Then I started taking a chair and then I really moved up and for years used a card table and chair and piled blankets/coats on the table to rest my rifle on. Still not the ultimate.

Replace the blankets with range bags. It seems for every different gun that you need a little bit different of elevation to get comfortable so get a variety of bags to accommodate your different needs.

Now I use a Caldwell Stable Table. It is a collapsible table and seat. It is durable and easy to slap up or fold-up and store at home. It’s handy.

Another item that came out years ago was the Caldwell Lead Sled. It was a device that held your rifle so you could shoot and it wouldn’t kick you as bad. This is a big deal if you’re shooting a lot of rifles or big bore guns. If you’re flinching then you can’t get good groups. To reduce recoil, you lay lead shot bags on the sled, hence the name Lead Sled.

But a couple of years ago Caldwell came out with their Hydro Sled. It has a reservoir that you fill with water to give it weight which reduces recoil. I use it now instead of my Lead Sled.

If I’ve got many rifles to sight in, I always take my sled. If not, by the time I get two to three new rifles sighted in it is hard not to flinch which prevents me from obtaining decent groups.

But where I really got to loving my Lead Sled was years ago. I was doing an article for Bass Pro Shop on the best turkey loads and had to sample a ton of different turkey loads. You want to talk about getting pounded! Go shoot a couple of boxes of 3 ½-inch HEVI Shot ga. Turkey loads. That will make you cry Uncle. But with my Caldwell Lead Sled, no problemo.

SUMMARY

So to ease your pains when mounting a scope, putting a red dot scope on your shotgun, cleaning your rifle/shotgun or just to keep all of your cleaning supplies and gun tools organized, get a range box.

To provide a stable rest for sighting in your rifles, patterning your shotguns and seeing what your gun is actually capable of shooting, invest in a Caldwell Stable Table and some bench bags.

Then if you want to go all out and hit the next level you might want to check out these two items.

1. Caldwell Ballistic Precision Target Camera. The younger techie crowd will like this. With the app and using your cell phone it allows you to observe where your bullet hits the target.

2. Caldwell Chronograph to measure bullet speeds. These are an aid to tell you your reloading results. I like to know how fast my airguns fly, when I start losing accuracy or performance etc.

SECOND SUMMARY

As Katy would say, “Boys and their toys.”

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

2020 Christmas list for the outdoors types

I had COVID-19 in April and didn’t recoup until May 6. For six weeks prior to that I was helping a buddy over in South Dakota. I left there and it was pretty much still winter and by the time I got well, spring was in full swing, crappie fishing was on the tail end slide and the mushroom season was over. When I went to sleep it was winter and when I woke up and it was almost summer. I felt like Rip Van Winkle.

I got to make the most of summer but still, even now I feel a little time disoriented. And suddenly it’s almost Christmas and here I am writing my annual Christmas list. Wow.

Well, here’s a list of some of the cool items that I got to test out this year and some that are old-time favorites. I say something to this effect every year but if you take time to investigate what your little outdoor honey wants/needs, you can really rack up some points. Most of our outdoor endeavors are pretty specific so investigate before you make a purchase.

I’ve never thrown this angle in before, but with the COVID-19 panic ravaging businesses in America try to shop in your community if at all possible and keep the dollars at home. That way your friends and neighbors can maintain their jobs and businesses. If your health is compromised then, yes, you can probably do almost all of your shopping online. I just wanted to remind everyone that local businesses are what supports the community that you live in.

If you buy a unique or much-needed item, you’ll sweep your outdoor lover off their feet. And you don’t always have to spend a lot of money. Well, let’s get started:

HUNTING

  • SneakyHunter BootLamps
  • Smith’s Folding Limb Saw
  • Knives of Alaska Professional Boning Knife
  • Umarex airguns. Check out the Gauntlet, Origin or the Yukon Magnum break barrel.
  • mytopomaps. They will make a map of wherever or however detailed that you want. I use them.
  • Hi Mountain seasoning to make your own jerky and sausage.
  • Chard Pro Former Jerky Gun. I just got one. Can’t wait to use it.
  • .511 cool tactical pants, great for hunting.
  • Spyderco makes a cool little hunting knife called the Bow River knife.
  • Scopes/Binoculars. There’s an up and coming new company called Riton Optics. Check out their offerings.
  • For shooters, Caldwell makes a lot of must-have items. Shooting bags, Hydrosled and their Stable Table. These items help you have a stable rest when sighting in your rifles.
  • Otis Elite Range Box. This is a great help when mounting scopes or cleaning your guns.

BACKPACKING ITEMS

  • Alps Mountaineering Dash chair
  • Alps Chaos 2 tent
  • Alps Nimble pad
  • Camp Chef Stryker 200 stove
  • Aquimira filtered water bottles and straws
  • Adventure Medical Kits duct tape, mole skin
  • Irish Setter Canyons hiking boots
  • Hiking socks — these are worth their weight in gold.
  • Eating utensils, Outdoor Edge Chowpal, Collapsible cooking utensils.
  • Uberleben Stoker Flatpack is a cool little collapsible stove.
  • Smith’s Consumer Products offers I don’t know how many folding knives that are great for backpacking.
  • Backpacking meals

FISHING

  • Heybo makes some cool fishing shirts.
  • Mister Twister plastics. I like their tube jigs for crappie fishing.
  • I’ve been using a Honda BF 2.3 motor to fish with this summer. I like it better than my trolling motor.
  • Sunglasses. Check out the Hobie El Matador model for full eye coverage.
  • Hire a fishing guide to float a river.
  • Fishing rod & reel.
  • Fish filleting knives. Smith’s Consumer Products makes a variety of sizes.

CAMPING

  • Daisy Powerline 51 slingshot, great fun for kids (and Katy) for shooting cans around camp.
  • Grizzly 60 cooler. This is a well-built, stout cooler.
  • Camp Chef Rainer 2X camp stove
  • Smith’s Consumer Products sharpening stones. My favorite is their 8-inch Tri-hone set but I also love their 6-inch fine diamond stone.
  • Lodge Dutch oven with legs
  • Tent
  • Backpack

STOCKING STUFFERS

This is where you can score some points on cheap little knickknacks that they’ll value.

  • Split shots
  • Fishing lures
  • .22 ammo
  • Waterproof matches
  • Flashlight
  • Substitute a day pack for a stocking!
  • Talon Snap Cleaning Kit. This is a cool new kit to clean your pistol.
  • Flies make great stocking stuffers. (Check out flydealflies.com use CLAYCOMB and you can get a discount.)

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.