People that are fond of fishing and want to enjoy their hobby in the state of Idaho have plenty of places to choose from, as there are about 26.000 miles of stream and rivers and 3.000 natural lakes you can go to.
You just have to follow the rules set out by the Department of Fish and Game. The regulations concern regional fishing season, fish species and bag limit, equipment and techniques.
License to fish
People that are 14 years of age or older need to have a valid license to fish, and they have to have it on them when they go fishing. Children under 14 can get a two-pole fishing permit and have their own daily bag limit.
You can get any of them from the regional offices or vendors. There are even lifetime license certificates you can get as a resident, so you only have to pay for the tags and permits.
Regions and seasons
The rules are roughly similar in all the regions, but there are distinctions that matter. The environment, fish species, and fishing conditions are different throughout the state as are the different kinds of game that hunters search for.
The seven fish and game regions in Idaho are Panhandle region, Clearwater region, Southwest region, Magic Valley region, Southeast region, Upper Snake region and Salmon region.
The waters are open for fishing all year round, except when you’re fishing for steelhead and salmon. You’ll need a permit for that, and there’s a spring season and a fall season.
The steelhead spring season lasts from January to April or may, depending on the region. It closes at the beginning of April on Salmon River, but it last until the 31 of May on some parts of the Snake River and Boise River.
The fall season opens with a catch-and-release period that lasts until the end of August. The mainstream, Middle Fork, and South Fork Clearwater River are exceptions, as the catch-and-release period lasts until the 14th of October. The fall season is officially over on December 31st.
The bag limit is the maximum number of fish that one person can harvest in one day. If you’ve exceeded the limit, you are fishing illegally. It varies depending on region and fish species and season.
In any of them, you can fish for as many bullfrogs and crayfish as you like, because there’s no bag limit for them. You can also get as many as 25 whitefish and brook trouts a day.
You can also enjoy a large harvest of largemouth or smallmouth bass fish. You can keep six bass fish a day, but if you’ve got one that’s under 12 inches and you’re in the Southwest region, and the Magic Valley. The minimum size limit for the Southeast region is 14 inches.
You can also catch brook trout (25 fish a day as a general rule), kokanee (between 6 and 25, depending on the area), tiger muskie (2), walleye (6) and Cisco (30), a species which you can find in Bear Lake only. Bull trout and sturgeon species are under the catch-and-release regulation, so it’s important to identify them correctly.
During steelhead season, the possession limit is 9, and daily harvest is 3, but the total number of fish you get for the whole season is 20 per season.
You should pay special attention to the area in which you would like to go fishing because there are special regulations for some of the waters and fish species. Daily limits and possession for chinook salmon, for instance, is different for each river segment. There are about 250 special rule waters in Idaho, with specific limitations.