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Kootenai River Angler Science Program off to a good start

June 4, 2022

By T.J. Ross
IDFG Regional Communications Manager

IDFG photo
Staff with Idaho Fish and Game and anglers on the Kootenai River struck a sweet partnership to benefit how the burbot fishery in the river is managed, and both anglers and the burbot fishery win big with the Kootenai River Angler Science Program. Anglers got to do what they do best - fish! While fishing, they could opt to participate in the Kootenai River Angler Science Program by filling out creel packets and logbooks and reporting any tags they saw in any burbot they caught.

In return for their participation in the program, anglers received free swag along with the opportunity to win some awesome raffle prizes, such as a Yeti Tundra 45 cooler or a complete burbot fishing setup!

This was the first year of the Kootenai River Angler Science Program, so there was uncertainty around whether or not it would be effective. Approximately 140 angler creel packets were distributed to the public, and 17 participants returned a packet and were eligible for the raffle prizes. Not a bad start for year one!

After the swag was handed out and the raffle drawings were completed, there was no shortage of smiles among the 17 participants!

If you’re reading this and wanting to get in on the action in 2023, here is your formal invitation to do so! The time frame for the 2023 Kootenai River Angler Science Program will closely mimic what took place in 2022, so keep your eye out for notices in early-winter 2023.

Sure, we enjoy seeing the smiles of anglers as they walk away with free swag and raffle prizes, but the Kootenai River Angler Science Program is all about managing the burbot fishery in the river.

We collect information about the burbot population (and many other species in the Kootenai River) through standard fisheries sampling methods, but understanding how the fishery is performing for anglers is incredibly challenging. Ironically, the angler-fishery interaction piece of the puzzle is also arguably the most important pieces.

Some of the swag!
The information gained from the Kootenai River Angler Science Program (creel packets, logbooks and the reporting of tags) will help us better understand and manage the burbot fishery.

Here are a few examples of what we learned from the creel packets and logbooks that were turned in:
  • The creel packets contained information for 60 harvested and 12 catch-and-release burbot.
  • Burbot recorded in creel packets averaged 18.5 inches long and ranged in size from 12 to 25 inches.
  • Anglers were spending approximately four hours fishing for every burbot caught.
  • The majority of burbot were caught from early February through mid-March.
  • From February 27 to March 5, which roughly coincides with peak burbot spawning, anglers were spending approximately 1.5 hours fishing for every burbot caught.

Continuing this program into the future and reporting tags will allow us monitor changes that occur in the fishery over time. This will allow us to adjust our management accordingly to sustain the only burbot fishery in Idaho.

So, thanks to all who participated in the Kootenai River Angler Science Program in 2022, and make sure to join in on the fun in 2023!

Please contact the Panhandle Regional office at (208) 769-1414 if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the Kootenai River Angler Science Program.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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