Idaho’s gorgeous wilderness is undeniable– with its pine-filled forests, alpine lakes, and rugged mountains… it’s no wonder the Gem State is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated on the fourth Saturday in September, serves as a perfect occasion to honor and promote the critical role that hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation in Idaho and nationwide.
History of National Hunting and Fishing Day
Established by Congress in 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day aims to celebrate and recognize hunters and anglers for their pivotal role in conserving and restoring America’s natural resources. Their contributions, both monetary and voluntary, have been instrumental in maintaining the country’s rich biodiversity.
Idaho’s Legacy: Wildlife Conservation Facts
1. Economic Contribution: In Idaho, hunting and fishing are not merely recreational activities; they’re significant economic drivers. Hunters and anglers support the state’s economy through the purchase of equipment, licenses, permits, and stamps. Additionally, they contribute to funds that support conservation through the federal excise tax on fishing and hunting gear.
2. Land Preservation: Through the years, hunters and anglers have supported the establishment of national wildlife refuges and state wildlife areas. Idaho boasts over 30 state parks and recreation areas, many of which owe their existence, in part, to the contributions and advocacy of the hunting and fishing communities.
3. Species Recovery: The funds from hunting and fishing licenses have been instrumental in wildlife restoration projects in Idaho. Populations of animals like the wild turkey, which had dwindled in the past, have been successfully reintroduced and are thriving today.
4. Volunteer Efforts: Beyond monetary contributions, Idaho’s hunting and fishing community is known for its dedication to conservation through volunteer work. Many participate in habitat restoration projects, wildlife population surveys, and educational programs to spread awareness about conservation.
Celebrating in Idaho: Activities & Suggestions
1. Family Fishing Trip: Idaho, with its countless lakes and rivers, offers the perfect backdrop for a memorable fishing trip. Whether you’re an expert or a newbie, fishing provides a serene way to connect with nature! Check out a few of the hot spots to catch record-size fish!
Although essentially a reservoir, this body of water stands as one of the largest lakes in the state, stretching 21 miles in length and expanding up to 4.5 miles in width. The perch fishery of Lake Cascade is testament to a triumphant conservation effort, realized through the sustained endeavors of Fish and Game and their partners to manage predatory, non-game fish populations. By transplanting perch from different waters and allowing them to spawn and thrive naturally, they’ve achieved noteworthy success in ecological balance and fishery health.
Henrys Lake has been renowned for producing the state-record brook trout, a staggering 8-pound specimen by the standards of brookies—or any trout, for that matter. Cutthroats and hybrids frequently surpass the 10-pound threshold, and catches measuring 20 inches are so habitual that they seldom garner much attention—unless, of course, you find one tugging at the end of your line.
Every fall, Fish and Game releases between 750,000 to 1.3 million juvenile trout into the lake, the majority of which are cultivated from spawners returning to a hatchery on the lake. This practice guarantees a consistent availability of large fish in this prolific lake.
Lake Pend Oreille
Lake Pend Oreille’s angling appeal is its flourishing kokanee population, revitalized after Fish and Game initiated one of the most extensive fishery restoration endeavors in their history to restore these fish to their former abundance.
Recent surveys by Fish and Game crews reveal kokanee numbers in the lake, the likes of which haven’t been seen in two decades. This is promising news not just for avid kokanee anglers but also for those pursuing other species, as kokanees are a foundational prey, supporting the growth of the lake’s trophy rainbow, bull, and lake trout to formidable sizes. Lake Pend Oreille has been the source of numerous state-record fish, including the standing world record for bull trout (now a protected species and cannot be harvested) and the once world-record-holding rainbow trout.
2. Wildlife Watching: If hunting isn’t your activity of choice, consider wildlife watching. Explore mountains, forests, canyons, and deserts to discover hundreds of fascinating wildlife species. Whether you are hoping to see an eagle in flight or a glimpse of a moose, there are a plethora of Wildlife Management and Refuge areas that offer a backcountry view!
3. Advocate for Conservation: Use this day as an opportunity to educate others about the importance of wildlife conservation and how it impacts hunting opportunities, diverse fishing opportunities, prioritizing wildlife as a non-partisan issue, and the protection against diseases and invasive species. Encourage friends and family to purchase a hunting or fishing license, even if they don’t hunt or fish, as a way to contribute to conservation efforts.
5. Join a Local Club: Numerous hunting and fishing clubs in Idaho work year-round on conservation projects. Joining one provides an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and participate in meaningful conservation activities.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, especially in Idaho, is more than a day of recognition; it’s a testament to the state’s wildlife legacy and the individuals who work tirelessly to protect it. As we celebrate, let’s remember the importance of conservation and the role each one of us can play in preserving Idaho’s natural treasures for future generations.