by Tammy Malgesini
The East Oregonian, July 2, 2009
ENTERPRISE - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced an emergency closure of the spring chinook fishery on the Imnaha River effective at sundown Sunday, July 5. Biologists recommended the early closure because angler impacts on wild chinook have reached the levels outlined in the Imnaha spring chinook fishery plan.
"Even though anglers have been releasing the wild fish they caught, approximately 10 percent of the wild fish hooked and released eventually die," said Brad Smith, ODFW fish biologist. "The closure is intended to limit impacts to the wild component to the Imnaha spring chinook run."
According to original run predictions, biologists expected to see a larger number of wild fish returning to the river, Smith explained. Recent run projections, however, predict a much lower return of wild fish. As a result the number of wild fish that can be inadvertently handled by sport anglers also has dropped.
"It's been a very popular sport fishery, and we're sorry to bring it to an early closure, but it's necessary to protect wild stocks," Smith said.
Meanwhile, the Snake River spring chinook sport fishery will close tonight a 11:59 PM, the ODFW announced.
The season for Snake River hatchery fish opened on May 30 from the Dug Bar Boat Ramp to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam. Fishery managers opened this sport season because the predicted number of hatchery spring chinook returning to the base of Hells Canyon Dam exceeded the number needed for broodstock purposes.
This closure is necessary to resolve confusion caused by non-concurrent regulations between Oregon and Idaho, ODFW said in a press release.
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