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The Game Trail

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A bad case of cabin fever and... know your fish!

Seems this year winter really dragged out, I can’t remember the last time I had cabin fever so badly. The light is at the end of the tunnel, though, I think we can say spring is finally here. I’m longing to take the kiddos out for a little fishing and listen to the osprey squawk overhead while they show us up on the catching part of fishing! 

Speaking of fishing, I’m really happy to announce that the Idaho legislators passed a law that closes all fishing to the public in the month of April to allow us Conservation Officers some time to fish without worrying about our jobs. Plus it will be really nice to have the lakes, rivers, and creeks all to ourselves. The bill is referred to as “Conservation Officer Appreciation Month.” What? You haven’t heard of that legislation? Yeah well, me neither, April fools. Please don’t call your legislator about this, I’m kidding. Seriously, don’t call your legislator... I like my job.

I’m sure you all have cabin fever too!  Here are some reminders about seasons and regulations before we all head out and enjoy the wonderful resources we all share. Most importantly, please buy the appropriate license, tags and permits for your activity. If you don’t think that you have the money for a license, you surely can’t afford a citation. Idaho resident fishing and hunting licenses are the only thing in this world, with the exception of home values, that have not gone up in price in six years. So come on, just buy one before you head out this year, and make sure it says 2011 at the top. There is no reason to wait until the old Memorial Day Weekend fishing opener. All waters in the Panhandle are open all year except as modified in the regulations on pages 7–8. 

That brings up another point, grab a set of regulations and throw it in your rig so you can have them handy to peruse. If you’re really fancy, download the regulations from our website to your smartphone and you’ll always have a copy with you.

It has been a few years since we closed harvest to Cutthroat Trout in the Pend Oreille Lake system which includes the Clark Fork River and Pend Oreille River, so please correctly identify your fish. Same goes for the bass anglers—remember, there is no size limit on smallmouth bass. The daily bag limit on bass is still six fish, however only two can be largemouth and they need to be over 16 inches in length.

April 15, 2011 is the opener for turkey season in the Panhandle. Turkey hunting is a blast for adults, but it’s a golden opportunity to get the kiddos introduced to hunting. A youth hunter must be 10 to 15 years old on April 8 to hunt in the general season youth hunt which falls on April 8 through the 14th this year. There are a lot of folks in the county who would love for you to remove a few turkeys from their property, but please be sure to ask permission and respect the land. Also, with the turkey population increasing and the number of turkey hunters rising there is an increased potential for accidents in the field. Two hunters stalking the same turkey can be unaware of each other’s presence so we must be cognizant of one of firearm’s golden rules: be aware of your backdrop. Additionally, the use of decoys has increased also enticing a hunter to “stalk” your decoy. Again, please be aware of your backdrop before you pull the trigger. 

Bear hunters might be waiting a little later this year to hunt some of the higher country; we’ll have to see how the upper snowpack melt-off progresses. Bear seasons for 2011 have not changed since 2010, so plan the same. Please purchase a bait permit if you plan on hunting over bait, and remember no baiting in Unit 1. Also, take an extra few minutes to watch the bear’s behavior before you pull the trigger. Is it a sow with cubs? Not only is it illegal to shoot a sow with cubs, but it is unethical. It is the hunter’s responsibility to take the time to make the accurate decision.

Yes folks, the bears are out and moving around so NOW is the time to bear-proof your home. Take the winter’s worth of garbage to the dump, bring the dog and cat food indoors, and take down the bird feeders. We don’t have laws or ordinances in this part of the state to make intentional or unintentional wildlife feeding illegal so it’s all up to you! If you don’t want to bear-proof your property, expect to have a bear hanging around the house in the next few months. Good luck with that, I’ll be off fishing.

Don’t forget about “Conservation Officer Appreciation Month”, while it’s not legislated it could be a volunteer thing. So the next sunny weekend we have y’all stay home and watch some TV. Thanks.

LEAVE NO CHILD INSIDE

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Author info

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

Tagged as:

fishing, winter, cabin fever, fishing license, cutthroat trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, turkey season, bear hunting

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