Outdoor briefs - Nov. 19, 2019

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Angler lands record largemouth bass

J.J. Schillinger, of Post Falls, recently landed a new catch-and-release record largemouth bass. As an avid bass fisherman, Schillinger was competing in the Panhandle Bass Anglers Fall Open tournament on October 19, when he hooked the 25-inch bass in Cave Lake.

Cave Lake is one of a dozen chain lakes along the Coeur d’Alene river, most of which are known for quality largemouth fishing. J.J.’s new record bass beats the previous record of 23.75 inches set by Dale Stratton at Sawyers Pond (near Emmett) in May 2017.

Catch-and-release records were first available starting in 2016. Records are based on the total length of the fish. While most are never weighed, this one was weighed during the tournament event at 9.7 lbs. That puts it within striking distance of the official certified weight record largemouth bass of 10.9 lbs caught in Anderson Lake, another one of the Coeur d’Alene chain lakes nearby.

Smaller steelhead bag limits extended

On Nov. 15, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission extended the current bag limits for steelhead fishing (one fish per day, three in possession) on portions of the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers for the 2020 spring steelhead season, which begins January 1.

According to Jim Fredericks, Fisheries Bureau Chief for Idaho Fish and Game, the hatchery steelhead return in the Snake and Salmon rivers is high enough to continue allowing anglers limited harvest opportunities.

As a result of coordinated management actions with tribal and state partners, and additional emergency measures in Idaho, it now appears that returns will be sufficient to meet broodstock targets for Clearwater River hatcheries as well.

Fish and Game is projecting that there could be about 1,000 of the smaller A-run steelhead in the Clearwater River system that will be in excess of broodstock needs, and Fish and Game managers will continue to coordinate with partners.

Tex Creek WMA recovering from fire

It has been three years since the Henry’s Creek Fire burned two-thirds of the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area. So what does it look like now and how is the area recovering? According to Ryan Walker, the manager of Tex Creek WMA and a habitat biologist for Fish and Game, everything is looking good.

“We have had favorable growing conditions the last few years,” Walker said. “Last spring it was pretty lush and green out on the WMA with little trace of the burn other than some sagebrush skeletons.”

Since the fire, Fish and Game has used airplanes to seed 2,000 acres of the WMA with native bunch grasses and shrubs like sagebrush. The Bureau of Land Management has seeded an additional 1,100 acres. The shrub component of the habitat is what Walker is most concerned about recovering.

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