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Bumper Crop of Salmon This Year?

by Jason Kauffman
Idaho Mountain Express, February 11, 2009

Up to 127,000 chinook may be bound for the Salmon and Clearwater rivers

Idaho fisheries managers are expecting another season of positive salmon returns this year. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the size of the chinook salmon run that's beginning to head up the lower end of the Columbia River system will likely give Idaho anglers a crack at the popular game fish this year.

"We're confident that enough chinook will return to Idaho this spring for a mid to late April season opening," anadromous fish manager Pete Hassemer told the Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

The size of the run may even allow Idaho fisheries managers to open up another chinook salmon season on the upper Salmon River, a Fish and Game news release states. Last summer, large returns of chinook prompted fisheries officials to open up a short season for the powerful gamefish on the stretch of river near Stanley for the first time in 31 years.

The Fish and Game predictions are based in part on the number of jack chinook salmon that returned last year. Jacks are young male salmon that return to spawn in their river of origin after spending only one year in salt water. Fish and Game considers jacks as any chinook less than 24 inches long.

Last summer's jack returns suggest more than 105,000 hatchery chinook and more than 22,000 wild chinook may cross the Lower Granite Dam on the lower Snake River this year. Most of the fish that cross the dam in southeast Washington are bound for the Salmon and Clearwater river basins in Idaho.

The number of returning wild fish is the fourth largest since 1979, Fish and Game reports.

The predicted return of hatchery fish means the share for Idaho recreational anglers could be more than 9,000 fish on the Clearwater River, more than 9,000 on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and almost 1,400 on the Snake River.

Idaho fisheries managers expect to propose fishing seasons on the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers in March, Hassemer said. Later on in May, they expect to propose summer seasons on the upper Salmon River and South Fork Salmon River.

Chinook salmon fishing seasons can be set only by the Fish and Game commissioners.

Jason Kauffman
Bumper Crop of Salmon This Year?
Idaho Mountain Express, February 11, 2009

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