Monday, June 1, 2020
Silver Creek, Lou Lunte to Embrace Public-With New Policies
Fish and Game staff launched a suction dredge project on Silver Creek to remove sediments from spawning gravels. The project was designed to provide long-term benefits for both fish and anglers. COURTESY: Idaho Fish and Game
Thursday, May 21, 2020


You can scratch Silver Creek Preserve’s popular opening day barbecue off your list of things to do this Memorial Day Weekend.

But fishing and nature walking on the preserve at the base of the Picabo Hills will get underway on Saturday, May 23—with new procedures in place to enable people to recreate safely and responsibly.

“We have been updating and revamping our Silver Creek Preserve policies and procedures to keep visitors safe, especially as visitation ramps up this month and fishing season begins on Saturday,” said Erika Phillips, watershed manager for The Nature Conservancy in Hailey. “It’s so hard to cancel the BBQ because we love the chance to welcome people back to the preserve and hear fish tales. But most everything else is underway.”

Fishing from a float tube on Magic Reservoir. PHOTO Roger Phillips/IDFG

The Silver Creek Preserve Visitor Center will be closed this season. But restrooms will be open. Staff will try to clean them as often as they can, but visitors are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer.

Visitors are asked to maintain at least six feet of physical distance between themselves and those who are not members of their household. And they’re asked to refrain from congregating at trailheads and carpooling.

Visitors will have to register at kiosks or text a phone number posted on the kiosks. Information will be provided at trailhead kiosks, online at and on the Silver Creek Preserve Facebook pages at and

Visitors can also quiz Lou Lunte, who until recently was deputy director with the Idaho Nature Conservancy. Lunte and his wife Cindy began their careers as preserve managers at Silver Creek 31 years ago and returned to the preserve this summer to finish their careers closer to the land.

Fly-fisherman on the Big Wood River. PHOTO: Terry Thompson/IDFG

“With its cool, clear waters, world-famous fishery, diversity of birds and wildlife, Silver Creek is a place many visitors come to connect with nature and rejuvenate their soul. We have had our dreams answered to be part of this place again,” he said.

Phillips said the Preserve has been busier than usual, in part owing to great weather and in part due to the different kind of escape it offers from the North Valley. Wildflowers are beginning to pop, sandhill crane are dancing in the fields and birds are on their nests.

“We just ask that people give the nests a wide berth and that they give people a wide berth, as well,” she said. “You probably don’t need to wear a face mask while out in the stream, but it probably would be a good idea if you’re with a guide.”

Plans for restoring Silver Creek are being drawn up this summer and will be implemented in the summer of 2021, Phillips added.

Due to a low snowpack the water levels in the Big Wood River are lower than typical over Memorial Day Weekend. The river was stocked with more than 400 rainbow trout in early May.

Magic Reservoir has been stocked with more thana 14,000 hatchery rainbow trout since mid-April, adding to the yellow perch in the reservoir. The reservoir also produces large rainbow and brown trout naturally produced upstream in the Big Wood River.

To learn whether your favorite body of water has been stocked, visit

Terry Thompson, regional communications manager for Idaho Fish and Game, cautions that it is illegal to take fish home while the fish are still alive. The problem has become worse lately as most new boats are equipped with livewells, he said.

The illegal transport and stocking of any fish species throughout Idaho increases the risk of disease transfer between water bodies. Even transport of live fish to keep them fresh prior to processing can led to a misdemeanor citation.

Killing fish quickly and storing them on ice yields a better flesh quality for the table, Thompson said.


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