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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Basic Idaho ice fishing rules spelled out

When the ice is solid at Priest Lake, fishing for mackinaw can be excellent for jiggers. (Rich Landers)
When the ice is solid at Priest Lake, fishing for mackinaw can be excellent for jiggers. (Rich Landers)

FISHING -- Idaho's ice fishing rules are similar to regulations covering to the rest of the year.   For example, as of Jan. 1, a 2016 fishing license is required for anglers age 14 and older. And as always, it must be on your person when you are fishing.

But anglers should review the fishing seasons and rules brochure to bone up on the special rules for ice fishing.

Any angler may fish through the ice with up to five poles or lines and up to five hooks per line, although there are some exceptions spelled out in the rule brochure. All lines must be attended by the angler.

A two-pole validation does not allow more than five lines while ice fishing. 

For safety reasons, holes may be no larger than 10 inches in diameter in Idaho Panhandle waters and most of the rest of the state.

Gaff hooks can be used only to land fish through a hole cut or broken in the ice in waters that have no length restrictions or harvest closures for that species.

Anglers who use any enclosure or shelter for ice fishing and plan to leave it unattended overnight, must have the owner’s name, telephone number and current address legibly marked on two opposing sides.



Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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