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For the week of June 12 - 18, 2002


Dumb ’n dumber rainbows studied by Fish and Game

‘‘We know hatchery trout stocked in Idaho are caught at rates similar to trout stocked in other states. Still we are trying to do better by breeding only those fish that appear unusually catchable.’’

Idaho Fish and Game research biologist

BOISE (AP) — Idaho Fish and Game researchers are seeking the help of Idaho anglers to send in the jaw tags of hatchery fish to help determine if it is possible to breed more catchable fish.

Researchers Dan Schill and Joe Kozfkay are hoping to produce better fishing for anglers by selectively breeding hatchery trout to be more catchable.

The study began in 1998 when 2,750 rainbow trout from the Hayspur Hatchery west of Picabo were tagged and caught and released while researchers kept track of how many times each fish was caught. The fish that were caught more than twice during the study were bred with other easily caught fish. The offspring of the easy-to-catch fish were first large enough to stock Idaho waters last year.

To determine if these offspring are easier to catch than other trout, equal numbers of the experimental and normal fish were tagged and released into 16 streams and reservoirs in eastern Idaho and the Sun Valley area.

‘‘We know hatchery trout stocked in Idaho are caught at rates similar to trout stocked in other states,’‘ Schill said. ‘‘Still we are trying to do better by breeding only those fish that appear unusually catchable.’‘

The researchers not only hope to give anglers more fish, they also want to stretch the money brought in from license fees. On average, only one in three trout stocked in streams are caught, that means it costs Idaho sportsman about $1.50 for each stocked trout caught and kept.

‘‘Anything we can do to increase the percentage of stocked trout caught by anglers is just good business, not to mention making fishing better,’‘ Kozfkay said.

Kozfkay is comparing the number of tags returned from the experimental group to the number returned from the normal group. The researchers said similar studies of largemouth bass in Illinois and Texas suggest catchability is passed down from generation to generation. However, this is the first experiment involving hatchery trout.

Fish and Game is asking Anglers to remove jag tags from the fish, flatten the tags and return them to the Nampa Fish Research Office. Every time an angler turns in a tag, his or her name will be entered in a drawing for $50 cash.

There will be a drawing at the end of the year for each of the 16 study sites.

Stocking sites this year include the Middle Fork Boise River, North Fork Boise River, Boise River, Grimes Creek, Mores Creek, Silver Creek, Little Smoky Creek, Warm Springs Creek, Portneuf River, Crooked River, Rock Creek, Mores Creek, Middle Fork Weiser River, Weiser River, North Fork Payette River (2 sites), and North Fork Lake Fork Creek.

Last year, local waters where tagged fish were released, and where some may still remain, included the East and West forks of the Big Lost River and below the Mackay Reservoir, North Fork Big Wood River and Trail Creek in the Big Wood system. In eastern Idaho, the study waters included Ashton Reservoir, Roberts Gravel Point, Gem State Reservoir, Sand Creek Pond No. 3, Mackay Reservoir, East Harriman Fish Pond, Henry's Fork at Macks Inn, Buffalo River, Birch Creek, Snake River at Idaho Falls, and Warm River.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.