The Oct. 6 ruling by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission barring a harvest steelhead season on the Clearwater River has caused confusion because the term “catch-and-release” is being confused with “no harvest.”
The commission did not designate the Clearwater River as catch-and-release only, state officials say. Anglers may still use bait, but the fish must be released after being caught.
Steelhead anglers also need to be aware that even though the Clearwater wasn’t designated as “catch-and-release,” barbs must be bent completely closed.
Some people worry that bait fishing encourages fish to swallow the hook, but since steelhead are not feeding as they migrate up the river, this is not a problem, Fish and Game Department officials say.
Steelhead grab at flies, lures and bait more out of instinct than anything else, and mortality associated with deep hook setting is very minimal.
The Lewiston Chamber of Commerce has canceled plans for its annual steelhead fishing derby this fall, based on the low run of fish to the Dworshak Hatchery.
Grizzly bear watch
Hunters near the Upper Priest River drainage in the Selkirk mountains need to be careful of a young, male grizzly bear that was released last week after it was trapped near Nordman.
The bear was first observed last Monday after it was attracted to a campsite where food had been left out on a picnic table. With the berry crop gone, the bear was foraging for whatever food it could find in the last days prior to hibernation.
The bear has not been seen since his release and there is a good chance that he is already in hibernation, said Phil Cooper, Regional Conservation Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Even so, hunters camping in bear country should be sure to properly store their food and garbage. Successful hunters should hang their game a safe distance from camp.
Hunters and anglers can learn to navigate using the electronic Global Position System at two seminars sponsored by White Elephant Stores on Nov. 11.
Space is limited and pre-registration required at the Valley store, 12614 E. Sprague.
Disabled hunters can get the assistance of an able-bodied hunter in shooting game birds and animals under a rule recently adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Previously, people accompanying a disabled hunter could not shoot the animal unless the disabled hunter was legally blind.
Under the new rule, a designated companion can shoot and tag the animal for the disabled hunter.
“We hope this new rule expanding the definition of disabled will give these citizens greater access to hunting activities,” said Mitch Johnson, commission chairman.
Colville maps available
The new Colville National Forest travel map is available to show area travel route changes and explain new motor vehicle and travel restrictions.
The free map shows roads, trails, snowmobile and snowcat routes, cross-country ski trails, motorized bike trail systems, trailheads and sno-parks within the forest.
The map also shows certain areas closed to motorized vehicles, but not areas that are temporarily closed for various reasons.
Maps are available at the Forest Service Public Affairs Office in Spokane and at all ranger district offices. Info: (509) 684-7000.