IDFG and Idaho Parks team up to offer loaner fishing gear

Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is eager to announce a new partnership with the Idaho Fish and Game: The State Park Fishing Equipment Loaner Program.

The program, which will include six parks, is aimed to increase awareness of the many fishing opportunities within Idaho’s state parks. With fishing locations at, or near, most parks, IDPR and Fish and Game wanted to eliminate some of the barriers that might coincide with those interested in fishing — such as lack of equipment. Each of the participating parks will receive 16 rods and will have access to tackle and bait for park visitors.

The first six parks will be piloting the program for the season; both agencies hope to increase the number of participating parks in the coming years.

If you are interested in the State Park Fishing Equipment Loaner Program, visit idfg.idaho.gov or parksandrecreation.idaho.gov or stop by one of the following Idaho state parks:

  • Round Lake State Park near Sagle
  • Priest Lake State Park near Coolin
  • Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park near Cataldo
  • Winchester Lake State Park near Winchester
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park near Bruneau
  • Henrys Lake State Park near Island Park

“Idaho Fish and Game is excited to partner with Idaho Parks and Recreation on a project to help park visitors take advantage of the abundant fishing opportunities available in our state parks and surrounding areas,” said Ian Malepeai, Fish and Game marketing director. “We see a natural synergy to raise the awareness of the fantastic fishing in Idaho and providing park visitors with fishing equipment to enjoy additional activities on their visit.”

Participants over the age of 14 will need a fishing license while using the loaner rods. Licenses can be purchased online, by phone, at any Fish and Game office, or at various convenience stores and outdoor retailers across the state — $11.50 for a daily pass or $30.50 for an annual license.

The program is just in time for Free Fishing Day, which will be June 8 — during which you can fish anywhere in the state without a license. Keep in mind, all rules and catch limits still apply.

Time is running out to apply for big game controlled hunts; deadline is June 5

If you are looking to try for a chance at some of Idaho’s best hunts, you have until 11:59 p.m. (MDT) on June 5 to apply for big game controlled hunts. To ensure the best possible experience, don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

Resident Idaho hunters pay a $6.25 application fee, and nonresident applications are $14.75. You can apply online, at any license vendor, at Fish and Game offices or by phone at 800-554-8685. Remember that you will need a 2019 hunting license to apply for a controlled hunt, and mail in applications are no longer accepted. Winners will be posted online by July 10.

A full list of the hundreds of controlled hunts offered can be found in the 2019-20 Big Game Seasons and Rules booklet, which is available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices in printed form.

20,000 rainbow trout to be stocked in fishing spots around region in June

Grab your fishing pole, pack the cooler, and don’t forget your fishing license. Personnel from Idaho Fish and Game’s hatcheries in the Southeast Region will be releasing over 20,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during June. Fish on!

Here is the schedule:

n Bannock Reservoir at the Portneuf Wellness Complex: June 3-7 (500 fish)

n Bannock Reservoir at the Portneuf Wellness Complex: June 10-14 (500 fish)

n Bear River below Alexander Dam: June 17-21 (250 fish)

n Bear River below Oneida Dam: June 10-14 (1,500 fish)

n Bear River below Oneida Dam: June 24-28 (1,250 fish)

n Blackfoot River below dam and at Sage Hen, Cutthroat and Graves campgrounds: June 3-7 (1,000 fish)

n Crystal Springs Pond: June 3-7 (375 fish)

n Crystal Springs Pond: June 17-21 (375 fish)

n Cub River at Willow Flat Campground: June 3-7 (500 fish)

n Devil Creek: June 24-28 (2,160 fish)

n East Fork Rock Creek: June 3-7 (500 fish)

n Edson Fichter Pond: June 3-7 (625 fish)

n Edson Fichter Pond: June 17-21 (625 fish)

n Eightmile Creek: June 3-7 (500 fish)

n Johnson Reservoir: June 3-7 (1,750 fish)

n Kelly Park Pond: June 3-7 (250 fish)

n Mill Creek at Malad Summit Campground: June 24-28 (250 fish)

n Montpelier Creek: June 10-14 (fish 500)

n Montpelier Creek: June 24-28 (500 fish)

n Montpelier Rearing Pond: June 10-14 (250 fish)

n Montpelier Rearing Pond: June 24-28 (250 fish)

n Montpelier Reservoir (stocking tiger trout): June 17-21 (1,000 fish)

n Pebble Creek: June 17-21 (500 fish)

n Portneuf River below Pebble and above Lava Hot Springs: June 17-21 (1,250 fish)

n Portneuf River below Center Street Bridge in Lava Hot Springs: June 17-21 (330 fish

n Rose Pond: June 3-7 (1,000 fish)

n Snake River at Tilden Bridge, Twin Bridges, Rose, Firth, and Shelley: June 24-28 (2,000 fish)

n Toponce Creek: June 17-21 (750 fish)

Little soliciting applications for 2 Fish, Game commission spots

Gov. Brad Little is accepting applications for two soon-to-be-open spots on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, including the one for the Idaho Falls area.

The terms of Derick Attebury of Idaho Falls and Dan Blanco of Moscow will expire on June 30. They represent the Upper Snake and Clearwater regions, respectively.

Both are eligible to reapply for their positions, if they so choose. Attebury said Tuesday he is applying for another term and has already submitted his application to Little’s office.

“I want to thank Derick and Dan for their service to Idaho through their involvement on the Fish and Game Commission, and I appreciate Derick’s leadership as chairman over the past year,” Little said in a statement. “Candidates seeking to apply for these open positions must consider the time, energy and gravity of these roles in managing Idaho’s wildlife and natural resources for current and future generations.”

Commissioners are appointed for four-year terms, and no more than four of the seven may be from the same political party. Whomever Little appoints will be subject to Senate confirmation during the 2020 legislative session.

Applications can be found at gov.idaho.gov/appointments/ and must be submitted to zach.forster@gov.idaho.gov by 5 p.m. Mountain Time on June 14.

New Native Trout Challenge Kicks Off in 12 Western States

Deep in the West, under a secret rock in a cool stream, lies a prize worth finding. Anglers of all skill levels are invited to participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge and put the lure of the West on their bucket list. In addition to earning bragging rights and prizes at the Expert, Advanced and Master Levels, participants will help the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) conserve 21 species of native trout.

The 12 states where these native trout can be found are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The state fish and wildlife agencies in each of the 12 states are partnering on the effort, along with the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management and Trout Unlimited.

“We’ve been working for decades with our partners to conserve and rebuild native trout species across the West,” said Ed Schriever, Director of Idaho Fish and Game Department and Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Partnership Board of Directors. “The Western Native Trout Challenge is a great way to promote angling for these beautiful fish, keep people connected to native fish and their habitat while raising awareness and support for the need to conserve them.”

Native trout are the embodiment of the West. The wild rivers, alpine lakes, and trickling arroyos — the fiber of Western geography — are the habitat for the redband, the cutthroat, and the Gila.

The Western Native Trout Challenge invites anglers to help celebrate this legacy by catching native trout and char in each of the 12 Western states, at their own pace. There are three levels of achievement: Participants who catch six trout species across four states will earn “Expert Caster” rewards. Those who catch 12 trout species across eight states will earn “Advanced Caster” rewards. And those who catch 18 species across all 12 states will not only enjoy the adventure of a lifetime, they will also be designated as a “Master Caster” with rewards to match.

Anglers can get details on which fish to catch and where to find them by registering on the website, WesternNativeTroutChallenge.org. Registration is $25 per adult and is free for those 17 and under. The vast majority (92%) of the fee will go toward helping conserve native trout populations for future generations to also enjoy.

“We’re thrilled to be launching this fun way to support native trout conservation across the West,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “For every $25 program registration fee, $23 will go directly back to conservation projects that are helping native trout populations thrive. We want anglers to learn about these unique species and where they can go to catch them. In addition, catching the selected species helps conserve them by promoting angling and fishing license sales for native trout species, which also supports conservation efforts. It’s a wonderful way to help conserve these beautiful species, in beautiful places, at your own pace.”

The Western Native Trout Challenge is complementing a similar effort in some states. Anglers can participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge at the same time they participate in state specific programs, including the Arizona Trout Challenge, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Nevada Native Fish-Slam, Utah Cutthroat Slam and the Wyoming Cutt-slam.

Learn more, and register at WesternNativeTroutChallenge.org

Visiting Yellowstone National Park this summer? Come prepared. Take the pledge. Protect the park

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — If you plan to travel to Yellowstone National Park this summer, be prepared so you can protect yourself and this wild and awe-inspiring place.

Summer is Yellowstone’s most popular season. Expect busy facilities and destinations, as well as delayed travel times due to heavy traffic and wildlife jams. If you want a less crowded experience, arrive early or stay late and avoid main attractions during peak hours (like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Norris Geyser Basin).

Come prepared:

Read the Top Things to Know.

Check current park conditions for information on road construction, temporary road closures, and the backcountry situation report.

Receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone. Text “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

Reserve space in a campground or hotel — these facilities fill far in advance.

Expect very limited access to cellular phone service and WiFi.

Download Yellowstone’s app before you arrive.

Take the Yellowstone Pledge:

Pledge to act responsibly and safely, and set a good example for others during your visit.

Put the pledge (10 ways) into action.

Tell a ranger or call 911 if you see someone whose behavior might hurt them, others, or the park.

Protect yourself and the park while you are here:

Attend a ranger program or stop at a visitor center.

Read the 2019 visitor guide (you’ll get a copy when you drive through the entrance).

Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas.

Maintain safe distances from wildlife (practice safe selfies).

Be bear aware. Carry bear spray. Know how to use it. Be alert. Make noise. Hike in groups. Do not run from a bear.

Fish and Game will host statewide events to help beginners get started

Saturday, June 8, is Free Fishing Day, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites veteran and novice anglers of all ages, residents and nonresidents alike, to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license. Though fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

Lack of fishing experience is no excuse. At many locations, you don’t even need a rod, tackle or bait. Just show up and Fish and Game employees and volunteers will loan you gear and show you how to catch a fish.

Here’s a list of events. For details about an event, call the regional office during business hours, and for exact locations, visit our special Free Fishing Day map page:

Panhandle Region

Snow Creek Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Priest Lake Golf Course (8 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Round Lake (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Rathdrum City Park Stream (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Post Falls park Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Ponderosa Springs Golf Course Pond (7 a.m. – 11 a.m. PDT)

Steamboat Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Gene Day Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Clearwater Region

Spring Valley Reservoir (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Kiwanis Park Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Mann Lake (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Wilkins Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Fenn Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Karolyns Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PDT)

Southwest Region

Meadow Creek Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Northwest Passage Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Ol’ McDonald Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Fischer Pond (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. MDT)

Atwood Pond (8 a.m. – 2 p.m. MDT)

Sawyers Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Caldwell Rotary Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Wilson Springs Ponds (8 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

McDevitt Pond (8 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Kleiner Pond (9 a.m. – 2 p.m. MDT)

Idaho City Visitors Center Pond (9 a.m. – 1 p.m. MDT)

Legacy Park Pond (9 a.m. – 1 p.m. MDT)

Magic Valley Region

Hagerman WMA Riley Creek Pond (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MDT)

Gavers Lagoon (9 a.m.–12 p.m. MDT)

Freedom Park Pond (8 a.m.–12 p.m. MDT)

Southeast Region

Bannock Reservoir (9 a.m.–1 p.m. MDT)

Edson Fichter Pond (11 a.m.– 1 p.m. MDT)

Kelly Park Pond (9 a.m.–1 p.m. MDT)

Grace Fish Hatchery (9 a.m.–1 p.m. MDT)

Upper Snake Region

Becker Pond (9 a.m.–1 p.m. MDT)

Trail Creek Pond (9 a.m. – 1 p.m. MDT)

Rexburg City Ponds (9 a.m.–1 p.m. MDT)

Mill Creek Pond (9 a.m.–1 p.m. MDT)

Salmon Region

Sawtooth Kids Pond (10 a.m.–3 p.m. MDT)

Blue Mountain Meadow Pond (8 a.m.–12 p.m. MDT)

Kids Creek Pond (8 a.m.–12 p.m. MDT)

The department will stock trout in select locations before the event to increase your chances of landing a fish. Check our fish stocking page to find out where the fish trucks have been lately.

Tourism to Yellowstone creates $647.1 million in economic benefits

A new National Park Service report shows that 4.1 million visitors to Yellowstone in 2018 spent $512.6 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 7,089 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $647.1 million.

“These numbers once again show the enormous positive impacts our national parks have on our local economies,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly. “Our national parks are one of the very best taxpayer investments in this country. For many reasons, well beyond economics, it’s essential that we invest aggressively to protect these incredible places in the future.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.

The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage (https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm).

Anglers can buy a ready-to-use fishing license with their smartphones

Imagine this scenario: You’re at your favorite fishing and camping spot for the weekend, and just as you grab your fishing rod to head to the lake or river, you realize you forgot to purchase a fishing license. Don’t panic, if you have a smartphone and cell service, you can purchase and download a ready-to-use fishing license in Idaho.

If you already have an account on Fish and Game’s licensing system, you can visit idfg.huntfishidaho.net using your smartphone, and login using your user name and password associated with your account.

If you do not have an online account with Idaho Fish and Game, tap the “Enroll Now” button on idfg.huntfishidaho.net and enter the required information to set up an account. Important note: Make sure that your profile name exactly matches the name on your driver’s license or state-issued identification, and also make sure you’re seeing the Fish and Game logo and buying through Fish and Game’s website.

After logging in, or creating a new account, tap “Purchase a License, Tag, or Permit,” at the top of your screen, which will take you to Fish and Game’s license sale options. Scroll through the options until you find the type of fishing license you want to buy, then tap the “Add” button that corresponds with it to add the item to your cart.

After you have added a fishing license to your cart, a list of suggested products will pop up on your screen, including the option to add a two-pole permit. If you plan to fish with more than one rod, tap the “Add” button that corresponds with it and then tap “Proceed to Checkout.”

The option to purchase a steelhead or salmon permit may also pop up, but you will need to purchase those permits from a license vendor if you want to immediately fish for those. If you buy a salmon or steelhead permit with your smartphone, it will take seven to 10 business days for it to be mailed to your home address.

After reaching the checkout page, ensure you have the correct items in your cart before scrolling to the bottom of the screen and tapping “Next.” By doing so, you are certifying and declaring that all of the information you gave is true, and that the license is being issued as requested. Note: If you choose to purchase a single-day or multiple-day fishing license, also make sure to enter the date you want the license to start being valid before proceeding.

On the next screen, enter your payment information. Once you’ve filled that in, tap “Pay Now” in order to process your payment. After it has been processed, you will be taken to a confirmation screen that gives you the option to print or download your license and/or two-pole permit.

When you tap the green “View for Print or Download” button, a new window will open displaying your license. Simply take a screenshot to save the license to your photos, and you are ready and legal to fish. A digital copy of your license will also be emailed to you.