Idaho Salmon Fishing Season
by William McCall, Associated Press
LEWISTON, Idaho - The opening of salmon fishing in the Snake, Clearwater, Little Salmon and Salmon rivers will occur Saturday, despite only a handful of chinook in those rivers.
Through Tuesday, just three chinook were counted at Lower Granite Dam, 35 miles west of Lewiston. At Ice Harbor Dam, 43 chinook have been counted. Downriver at Bonneville Dam, 2,052 chinook have climbed the fish ladders on their way upriver. The 10-year average at Bonneville is more than 55,000 for this time of year.
Officials in Washington and Oregon have closed salmon fishing in the Columbia River and are waiting for the run to improve before allowing anglers back on the water.
In Idaho, fisheries officials are waiting for more fish to cross Bonneville Dam to determine if there will be enough to keep their seasons open. They want to know if the run is dismally low, extremely late or a combination of the two.
"If the low counts are a function of abundance and not related to timing, this run is a bust," said Ed Schriever, regional fish manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston.
Pacific Northwest sportfishing and tribal fishing leaders say the scarcity of spring chinook in the Columbia Basin after projections of a strong return will be a devastating blow to the businesses and families who depend on the run for their livelihoods.
If the run is merely running late - about three weeks late - the season could be held as planned.
If the entire run turns out to be much smaller than expected, the number of wild fish that can be caught and released by anglers will shrink, potentially so much that seasons won't be held in the Snake and Salmon rivers, where wild chinook are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Even if those seasons were to close, Schriever said it may be possible to have fishing seasons on the Clearwater and Little Salmon Rivers, where wild chinook are not protected.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs