Salmon Begin Spawning near Stanleyby Staff
Idaho Mountain Express, 8/22/01
Floating restrictions in effect
Chinook salmon are spawning in the Salmon River near Stanley.
The fish, which swim 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in their native gravel beds in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The salmon that return to the upper Salmon are summer chinook and spawn in the main stem of the river; which is also poular with rafters and kayakers.
Most of the river remains open to float boating with some restrictions to protect spawning salmon. Three salmon spawning nests, called redds, have been discovered upstream from Stanley, and others are expected to show up soon in other reaches of the river.
Despite low water rafting and kayaking opportunities for those seeking fun are still excellent, said Erasmo Paolo, managing director of The River Company in Stanley.
"It hasn't been a great season, but it hasn't been a catastrophe," he said. "It's been great for us. Our target audience is families with kids. The river is slow and warmer, so it's actually safer for kids to go swimming."
Paolo stressed that the spawning salmon at this time of year become an attraction for The River Company guests.
In order to provide quality floating opportunities and to protect favored salmon spawning areas, the SNRA has implemented measures to protect the fish from disturbance during the spawning period.
The river is open to boaters from Stanley to Mormon Bend, and from Yankee Fork to milepost 208 on Highway 75, upstream of Torrey's Hole. There is a mandatory portage around the spawning beds at Indian Riffles, 16 miles downstream from Stanley. The portage is about a mile long so baoters may want to have a vehicle there for hauling.
The protection provisions will remain in effect until Sept. 22, or until no spawning salmon have been observed in the river for three days.
"The water is quite low this year, and we have a lot of fish coming back, but the river can still be a lot of fun for people trying to escape the heat," said SNRA River Manager Eric McQuay.
"If we work together, we can provide opportunities for the fish to spawn without disturbance and still enjoy the river ourselves."
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