The salvage, which suspends fish bag and possession limits, is the first step in rehabilitating the reservoir to remove undesirable fish species, namely brown bullheads. Regional fishery staff investigated complaints of bullheads in Horsethief reservoir in the fall of 2014. The gill net survey documented a large number of bullheads of at least four different year classes. These fish were illegally introduced into the reservoir by someone about five years previously.
The Department will begin draining the reservoir on September 8th after most of the angling season is over. The lifting of angler limits is a way to use most of the fish that currently reside in the reservoir.
To take advantage of the salvage, anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license. With the exception of firearms, explosives, chemicals and electricity, fish may be taken with any method, including seines and dip nets. All fish must be killed before transport from the reservoir.
Illegal introductions of fish, including brown bullheads at Horsethief, are extremely costly to Fish and Game, local communities, and ultimately to license buyers both in terms of direct monetary costs as well as lost recreational fishing opportunities.
"It's frustrating to have to spend any sportsmen's dollars in this manner because of a thoughtless, criminal act by one person," said Dale Allen, regional fisheries manager.
When managed strictly for trout, Horsethief Reservoir is a valuable recreational and economic asset to west-central Idaho. A 2011 Economic survey conducted by Idaho Fish and Game estimated total annual spending by anglers associated with Horsethief at $4,505,000 and just over 26,400 fishing trips.
Once the reservoir is drained to its lowest level, Fish and Game will apply rotenone to the stream entering the reservoir and in the reservoir itself. The reservoir outlet gate will be closed the day of treatment, and the rotenone will naturally dissipate in the weeks following treatment. When applied to water, rotenone is lethal to fish but harmless to livestock, wildlife, pets and humans.
The ice fishery will be lost for the winter of 2015-2016 due to the illegal actions of a few. The reservoir usually fills by May and the Department will restock it with Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout as soon as possible.
For more information on the treatment, contact Dale Allen at the Fish and Game office in McCall at 208-634-8137.