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Season's Off to a Good Start

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, April 29, 2004

Nearly 10,000 salmon have been counted at Lower Granite Dam

The salmon fishing season opened last weekend with more anglers catching fish than expected.

Because the run has been running late, fisheries officials expected anglers to be vying for just a handful of salmon. But delaying the season-opener by a week in Idaho allowed enough salmon to arrive to make fishing worthwhile.

When the season opened Saturday, more than 4,000 chinook had passed Lower Granite Dam, about 35 miles west of Clarkston on the Snake River. Through Tuesday, 9,160 salmon had been counted there. More than 1,000 fish have been passing the dam each of the past five days. On Tuesday alone, 2,600 were counted.

According to Larry Barrett of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, Clearwater River anglers averaged 19 hours of fishing for each salmon caught on the opening weekend. According to the department's samples taken Tuesday, fishing was slower at 38 hours for each salmon caught and 51 for each kept. Only hatchery-reared fish can be kept.

"It's only going to get better," he said.

Most of the fishing was concentrated in the lower Clearwater River from the Potlatch Corp. mill to the railroad bridge near the river's mouth.

Officials from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are reminding anglers that salmon fishing in three sections of the Snake River is open to Washington license-holders. Anglers can fish for salmon near Little Goose Dam, in Lower Granite Reservoir from Wawawai Canyon to Red Wolf Bridge at Clarkston and from Southway Bridge at Clarkston to Heller Bar.

Officials checking anglers have found few people taking advantage of the Lower Granite fishery, according to Glen Mendel of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at Dayton. He said many of the anglers interviewed on the reservoir last weekend were fishing for bass or catfish and did not know there is an open salmon season, "There is hardly anyone out there," he said. "There are a lot of fishermen out there who don't know it is open for chinook."

Anglers are participating in the Little Goose fishery and doing well. Department officials checked more than 40 fish a day in two days of angler surveys last week. A few anglers fished the stretch from Southway Bridge to Heller Bar , which is open to Washington and Idaho license-holders, last weekend. Barrett said the four anglers checked on the Snake River fished 12 hours and caught one jack salmon that was released.

At least one salmon has arrived at Rapid River Hatchery near Riggins and anglers have started to catch fish in the main Salmon River, according to Rexann Zimmerman, owner of the Riggins Tackle Shop.

"They are just now coming in and they have a little bit further to go," she said.

Few people have been fishing the Clearwater River near Orofino, according to John Wieland, owner of the Riverside Sport Shop.

'There is just not really anybody out there trying," he said. "They might be here and nobody even knows it."

Eric Barker
Season's Off to a Good Start
Lewiston Tribune, April 29, 2004

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