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Idaho Salmon Season to Begin April 24

by Roger Phillips
The Idaho Statesman, April 14, 2004

F&G sets bag limits, seasons in conference call

Spring salmon season will start April 24, but F&G and anglers may have to wait for the fish to arrive.

Seasons will open on the Snake River, Salmon River, Little Salmon River and on the Clearwater River system.

Anglers can keep only hatchery chinook salmon, which are marked by a clipped adipose fin. All wild fish must be immediately released unharmed.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game commissioners approved the seasons and regulations Tuesday morning during a conference call.

By Monday, 6,323 salmon had crossed Bonneville Dam, the first of eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. That's about 25 percent of the 10-year average for that time. Only 63 had crossed Lower Granite Dam by Monday. Lower Granite is the last dam the fish cross before reaching Idaho. Last year, 137 salmon had crossed by April 12.

But F&G is still predicting 156,000 salmon will return to Idaho this year, compared with 98,700 last year.

Anglers, however, are likely to have slow fishing when the season opens.

"I wouldn't be the first one out there," F&G anadromous fish manager Sharon Kiefer said.

A slower-than-normal start doesn't mean there won't be good fishing later.

"We can see a substantial decrease in the projections and still have a robust fishery," Kiefer said.

Early returns are not always the best indicator of the total size of the run. As the run progresses, the number of fish coming over the dams each day grows dramatically.

Salmon counts at Bonneville are starting to ramp up, going from 20 to 70 fish per day in early April to a few hundred fish daily last week, then more than 3,000 fish crossed the dam between Saturday and Monday.

Roger Phillips
Idaho Salmon Season to Begin April 24
The Idaho Statesman, April 14, 2004

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