big fish

Jerry Dawkins caught this record hybrid trout on the last day of the fishing season on Henrys Lake, 2017.

The issue of delisting grizzly bears and changing the Henry’s Lake fishing season are some of the proposals on the docket for next week’s Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting.

The commission will meet Monday and Tuesday at the Clearwater Regional Office in Lewiston, taking public comment Monday evening and working through a full slate of agenda items on Tuesday.

While most agenda items are slated for 10 to 15 minutes of attention, the issue of setting the fishing seasons and rules for 2022 through 2024 and the issue of delisting grizzly bears from the endangered species list are scheduled for at least 30 minutes each.

Fish and Game recently surveyed Idaho anglers and solicited comments on what changes, if any people were interested in. Questions focused on salmon and steelhead seasons on the Clearwater/Snake River, extending the fishing season (particularly ice fishing) on Henry’s Lake and recommendations for the American Falls tailwater area.

Fish and Game tallied 3,910 responses to the Henry’s Lake proposal from anglers, 3,669 responses to the Snake River-American Falls tailwater survey, and 3,232 responses to the Snake/Clearwater rivers salmon and steelhead proposals.

The commission will look at two possible changes at Henry’s Lake:

1) Extend the trout harvest season on Henry’s Lake by moving the closing date from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14. On Feb. 15 the season would change to a catch and release fishery through the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. On Memorial Day weekend a two-trout bag limit would start up again.

2) Move the closing date from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31 and implement a catch and release season from Feb. 1 through May 10. All fishing would close May 11 through the Friday prior to Memorial Day weekend (about two weeks). Bag limits would remain the same.

“I’m excited for both of these proposals to increase more opportunities for anglers to enjoy the lake,” said Jenn Vincent, regional fisheries biologist who focuses on Henry’s Lake.

The commission also will discuss the issue of Idaho joining with Montana and Wyoming in calling for the delisting of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears.

“The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, consisting of various federal and state wildlife and land management agencies, along with other experts, agrees that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been biologically recovered for at least 15 years,” said Toby Boudreau, Fish and Game’s wildlife bureau chief, in background material prepared for the commission meeting.

Idaho joined the two other states in a memorandum of agreement in 2007 and 2017, but court decisions invalidated the delisting efforts. “The court decisions identified procedural flaws or disagreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s assessment of state regulatory mechanisms,” Boudreau’s background notes said.

The state of Wyoming is once again asking Idaho and Montana to join it in petitioning for delisting with the hope of satisfying previous court objections.

The commission also will discuss among other things, changes with turkey tags, nonresident deer tags and falconry sage grouse tags.

For a full agenda and action item details, go to bit.ly/FandG_commission.

The Fish and Game Commission will hear public comments at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in person at the Clearwater Regional Office with comments limited to 3 minutes. Additional comments will also be accepted in writing.

The meeting also will be live streamed via Zoom at idfg.idaho.gov/ZJA. Meeting ID: 936 8235 8350. Call-in number: 253-215-8782.

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