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The Game Trail

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Paying people to fish

The phone rang pretty early the other morning. The caller asked,"What’s this I hear about the Game Department paying people to fish?" Holy smokes, I thought, what a great deal! Where do I sign up?"

Well, being that it was 6 o’clock in the morning, I didn’t quite have things together in the wheel room. It soon dawned on me that the caller was asking about our predator reduction program on Lake Pend Oreille. I replied, "Sir, it’s not quite that simple. You’re going to have to do some catching to get paid."

What I was referring to is the $15 bounty on lake trout and rainbow trout longer than 12 inches, which also applies to the Clark Fork River, Lightning Creek, Grouse Creek and the Pack River.

So how do you collect the $15 dollars? Remove the head from the Rainbow or Lake Trout over 12 inches (minimum head length from the tip of the nose to the back of the gill plate must be over 45mm or 1 3/4"). Next, find one of these freezer locations: Hope Marine Services, Holiday Shores, Harbor Marina, McDonalds Hudson Bay Resort, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) office in Bayview, or the Regional Office in Coeur d’Alene. Place the fish heads in the freezer bags provided along with the registration slip. Please folks, be absolutely positive with your fish identification. There’s nothing worse than having to knock on the door of someone who turned in a Bull Trout head by accident. If you’re not sure what’s on the end of your line, let the darn thing go!

If you need some information on how to catch these fish, two DVDs have been developed; "Reliable methods of catching lake trout on Lake Pend Oreille," and "Catch a Kam with Captain Ken." Loaner copies are available for check out at area libraries in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, Sandpoint and Priest River, and at the Fish and Game Regional office in Coeur d’Alene. Or you can order a copy for yourself at [email protected]

If you bear with me, I’m going to jump into a different subject that needs to be mentioned. Spring has definitely arrived in the Panhandle, and that means soon we will have baby critters running around everywhere. Unfortunately, that means my phone will start ringing with people who have "rescued" an abandoned calf or fawn. But the reality is these people, with good intentions, have greatly reduced the animal’s chance for survival. Doe deer and cow elk will stash their young in a safe place while they graze to replace much-needed nutrients, soon to return to their little one. The fawn or calf is genetically programmed to remain motionless and utilize its spotted, scent-free camouflage. To the passerby it may appear that this animal is "abandoned" by its mother. Give it time, Mom will return sometime to gather up the little one. If you pick that offspring up you have added unnecessary stress on mom, baby, and your local game warden.

The same is true for birds. Nestlings will sometimes fall out of the nest because of high winds or a lurking predator. If you find a baby bird on the ground please do not take it home. Find the nest it fell from and gently place it back in the nest or just leave it alone, mom will care for it on the ground.

The take home message is to leave baby wildlife alone. Not only is it illegal to possess live wildlife, but they most likely will die if you remove it from its mother. You can be a concerned citizen by following the above guidelines to ensure our wildlife is safe and remain where they belong – in the wild.

One last thing before I sign off. It’s really disturbing to see all the trash left behind by anglers. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I think there must be some correlation between how straight one’s family tree is to the amount of trash they leave behind. I’ve looked at many Keystone Light boxes and I can’t seem to find anywhere where they have printed, "Please deposit your empty cans along the roads and streams in North Idaho." On a brighter side, I’m impressed by the folks who take the time to clean up other people’s trash. There was a nice family from Bonners Ferry who camped at Antelope Lake recently. They picked up all the trash they could find, even the kids were involved. What a great lesson for the little ones! I see red and get a little sideways about litter bugs; if I catch you expect no leniency.

Hey you on the couch, go grab a fishing rod and the kids and take them out for the day. Read the regulations, respect private property, and pick up after yourself.

Leave no child inside.

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Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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