Ice Fishing Horsethief

Ice fishing on Horsethief Reservoir

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You need a new hunting and fishing license before your first outing of 2021. You might procrastinate, and then run around looking for an open store to buy a hunting or fishing license because you’re leaving early for your first trip, or buy it right away and have peace of mind, as well as a full year of hunting and fishing.

If you buy immediately, you can also take advantage of some great hunting and opportunities right now, such as:

Ice fishing

Ice fishing is fun, and a great way to get out of the house and catch some fish during winter. Winter can give us all a nasty case of cabin fever, but unlike many other activities that make you wait until spring, you can keep fishing during winter. A day on the ice is not just another fishing trip, it’s a whole different fishing experience.

It’s surprisingly beginner friendly

Ice fishing may seem specialized, and part of it is because it’s the only type of fishing that requires an ice auger. But aside from that, nearly any fishing gear will work. You can also build your own ice fishing rods, or a batch of them, for a reasonable price. Here’s a DIY example. If you decide to buy your gear, an ice fishing rod/reel combo is inexpensive, and honestly, a lot of fun to fish with because even a modest-sized fish feels big. After that, all you need is a hook, weight and bait. You can make it as simple or as sophisticated as you want. Check out Fish and Game’s ice fishing page at tinyurl.com/y89lv4vg for more information about ice fishing basics and important safety information.

Steelhead fishing continues

Idaho’s “spring” season opens Jan. 1, and you can catch this prized fish throughout winter and well into spring. See the current steelhead fishing rules.

You can still catch trout in rivers and streams

Winter stream fishing is often an overlooked opportunity, but trout fishing can be good, especially in “tailwater” fisheries where rivers are fed by dam releases, or in parts of the state with mild climates, such as along the Snake River.

One of the best times to catch whitefish

Another winter fishery that fly anglers enjoy, and many other anglers. These fish feed in riffles and aren’t fazed by the cold water, and they’re often schooled up during winter.

Hunt game animals that you may have overlooked

The hunting season for cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares and red squirrels last through March 31, so if you want to keep hunting, you have those options, and you probably won’t have a lot of competition.

Late season upland bird hunting continues

Hunting season remains open for chukar, Hungarian partridge, California quail, and forest grouse during January in most areas, and late-season hunting can be good for those birds. See the upland game bird rules booklet for season dates.

It’s only midway through the waterfowl season

Most duck and Canada geese seasons are open during at least part of January, into February for white-fronted geese, and as late as March (light geese) in parts of the state. See the migratory bird hunting rules booklet seasons because closure dates vary depending on species and location.

Hunt for large predators

Mountain lion and wolf hunting seasons are open during winter depending on location. See big game hunting rules for specific seasons.

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