Pocatello man co-authors comprehensive book on Idaho fish

September 6, 2018

POCATELLO -- The comprehensive new publication by fishery experts John Sigler and Donald Zaroban could more aptly be described as an encyclopedia on Idaho’s fishing scene than a mere book.

Sigler, who serves as board president of the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust and worked for six years as Pocatello’s senior environmental coordinator before retiring in 2012, and Zaroban, quality manager for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in Boise, collaborated on “Fishes of Idaho: A Natural History Survey.”

They’ll sign copies of the book -- which includes more than 800 pages about Idaho fisheries, characterizations of all of the state’s fish species and maps of their distribution -- from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Snake River Fly, 257 N. Main St., in conjunction with Old Town Pocatello’s First Friday Art Walk.

The list price on the hard-covered book is $85, with a 15 percent discount offered to those who purchase it online through the publisher, Caldwell-based Caxton Press. The first edition included 1,000 books and has been available since June.

It’s an update of a prior book Zaroban released in 2013 with co-author Richard Wallace, characterizing Idaho’s native fish species.

Zaroban explained the new book also covers non-native fishes, which comprise about half of the species found in Idaho. He and Sigler have worked steadily on the update for the past five years.

The co-authors, who met at an American Fisheries Society meeting in Boise, say resource managers with agencies such as the Idaho DEQ have expressed interest in using the book to help them prioritize their protection efforts. For anglers, the fourth chapter offers advice on how to catch different fish species. Other chapters focus on basic icythyology -- the study of fish -- and the geology of where fish occur, including how lava flows, ice dams and the Bonneville Flood affected the current distribution of fish species.

“Most of that information is in semi-obscure fish texts or geography publications,” Sigler said, adding the geology sections were guest authored by four university professors.

Regional universities may also opt to use the book as a textbook for fisheries programs, as it offers a broad taxa of species.

Another 14 guest authors wrote sections about 17 “aquatic gems” in Idaho, such as Priest Lake and Bear Lake. Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus authored the forward, writing, “This book celebrates Idaho: her waters, her fish and her fishing.”

The book features the artwork of Joe Tomelleri, of Kansas.

Sigler has been interested the aquatic sciences since was 6 years old, when he’d accompany his father and teams of graduate students on field trips to study Northern Utah’s lakes, marshes and rivers. His father, Bill Sigler, was head of Utah State University’s wildlife department.

Sigler went on to earn a bachelors degree from USU, as well as a master’s degree in water quality. He earned a Ph.D. in fisheries science from University of Idaho in 1980. He spent most of his career researching the effects of development on Western ecosystems and species of concern. While with the city, Sigler helped the urbanized area of Pocatello comply with new storm-water runoff standards.

Zaroban earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management and a masters in fish biology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received a Ph.D. from UI in natural resources in 2011. His dissertation focused on the Wood River sculpin, which is found only in Idaho’s Wood River. Zaroban started his career with Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality, and he joined the Idaho DEQ in 1990.

Zaroban has also worked as curator of fishes for the College of Idaho’s Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History in Caldwell since 1995.

Zaroban said Idaho sportsmen are lucky that their fisheries remain “in pretty good shape.”

“In most places, you can see the bottom of the stream, where in Nebraska, that’s not true,” Zaroban said.

Zaroban explained his own love of fisheries traces back to childhood excursions with his grandfather, Orval Cherry, who would take him to Schlagel Creek to fish for pan-sized rainbow trout, drifting a worm past brambles and beneath undercut banks.

“If you don’t get your kids out -- it doesn’t matter if you’re hunting, fishing, water skiing or that sort of thing -- they will grow up without an appreciation of natural resources,” Zaroban said.

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