Source: D4K: “Fish"
Visit the D4K companion Web site to learn more about Idaho's Salmon: D4K: “Fish"
In this video segment from IdahoPTV's D4K you will meet some of Idaho's native fish species and learn the difference between native and exotic species. Discover why some populations of fish are in danger of becoming extinct. Enjoy the videos of the largest fish in North America, the white sturgeon, as well as videos of burbot, rainbow trout and mountain whitefish.
JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: Idaho has lots of fish but not all of them are native. Warm water fish like bass, crappie and cat fish are what scientists call exotic species. Those are fish that were introduced into Idaho from other places. But native fish were always a part of Idaho’s landscape.
They depend on the four C’s - cold, clear, connected, complex waters. Some Idaho native fish are doing just fine but others are struggling for survival. Loss of habitat, drought cycles and competition from non-native fish – those exotics – all can threaten Idaho’s native fish.
The burbot is probably one of the homeliest native fish in Idaho. It lives in Idaho’s panhandle in the Kootenai River and its eel like body makes it easy to identify.
Second place in the beauty contest would probably be awarded to the largest fish in North America – the white sturgeon. Sturgeon can live over 100 years and grow in excess of 1,500 pounds.
[child – whoa, that’s huge]
Remember that part about cold, clear connected waters? Well, when the dams went in on the snake and Columbia Rivers, the sturgeon were stuck too. Caught between large walls of concrete, they are destined to live in isolated pockets, no longer free to migrate or travel the length of the Columbia River system.
Today, fishing for sturgeon means catch and release only.
CHILD: Bye fishies.
JOAN: Migration is an important part of almost every native fish’s life cycle.
Usually fish like this Kokanee migrate to spawn, that means to lay eggs. Kokanee turn bright red in the fall when they get the urge to reproduce. Now, when that cycle is interrupted by dams, or when their migration route or spawning habitat is damaged it will affect the whole population.
Fishing for Idaho natives means you need to know how to identify the fish. This boy’s caught himself a whole stringer of mountain white fish.
[CHILD– that’s a lot of white fish]
[CHILD -yeah, it is]
Most of Idaho’s other native species fall into the trout category. Rainbows are easy to recognize by their colorful sides. The West slope cutthroat, Idaho’s state fish, has a bright red slash across his throat and if you catch a bull trout like this you need to release it immediately, unharmed because like Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead they are listed as a fish threatened with extinction.
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