Idaho Group Asks to Extend Seasonby Staff
Times-News, June 6, 2002
Idaho's largest steelhead and salmon sportfishing organization asked the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wednesday to extend the fishing season on the Main Salmon River.
The Main Salmon River between Riggins and Grangville will close June 15, with hardly any salmon being caught unless the Department extends the season. Even though nearly 60,000 spring chinook salmon have crossed the last lower Snake River dam on there way back to Idaho's hatcheries and streams sport anglers have caught very few. Predicted to be the second largest run since the Lower Snake River dams were completed in the 1970s the run has been extremely later than earlier predictions.
This lateness is what has prompted Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited (ISSU) officials to ask for a season extension until June 25.
"We believe the Department of Fish and Game took their best shot at predicting when the fish would show up," said ISSUs president Nick Nicholson of McCall. "But that is what has allowed these fish to exist for over 20,000 years, they are very unpredictable".
A colder than normal spring resulted in colder water temperatures in the Columbia and Snake Rivers delaying the fish nearly two months later than last year. Recent hot weather has turned Idaho's rivers chocolate brown and choked with mud, which is further stalling the fish in their hard fought journey to the Rapid River Hatchery on the Little Salmon River.
"Commercial, Indian, and Sport anglers from Astoria, Ore., to Chinook, Wash., have had a chance to fish these Idaho salmon in the Mainstem Columbia and Snake Rivers, now its Idaho's turn", said Nicholson.
Only hatchery salmon - which are easily identified - are legal to keep. A series of eight federal dams is responsible for the loss of approximately 200,000 adult salmon into Idaho annually, resulting in all of Idaho's wild salmon and steelhead being protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Nicholson adds, "the summer run is just now entering the Columbia, an extra 10 days of fishing on the Salmon certainly will not impact those fish and will ease the congestion on the Little Salmon by spreading the fishermen over a larger area."
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