Poor Salmon Returns may Close
by Eric Barker
IDFG to mull strict salmon limits today
Anglers won't be able to ply some of the most productive salmon fishing holes on the Clearwater River this year if a proposal from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is approved.
In an effort to manage what is expected to be a small return of hatchery spring chinook, the department is proposing to allow fishing only in short sections of the Clearwater and skip long stretches that have traditionally been open. Fishing on the Clearwater will also be limited to four days a week, Fridays through Mondays, according to the proposal that will be heard by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission this morning.
The proposal would allow fishing from the Railroad Bridge at Lewiston upstream to the Arrow Bridge. But the river would be closed from Arrow to the confluence of the Clearwater River with its North Fork near Orofino, shutting out fishing at popular places like Cherrylane and Big Eddy.
"Some of the closures here in the Clearwater are actually closing the most effective holes. For example, the last few years they really stacked them up at Big Eddy, and I think that stretch is closed (in the proposal)," said Dave Cadwallader, supervisor of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Clearwater Region at Lewiston.
Under the proposal, fishing would be allowed from the confluence of the Clearwater and the North Fork upstream to the Greer Bridge but closed between Greer and the start of the Middle Fork Clearwater near Kooskia. The entire Middle Fork and North Fork below Dworshak Dam would be open, but fishing on the South Fork would be limited to the stretch between the State Highway 13 bridge near the Harpster Grade to the State Highway 14 bridge near the Mount Idaho Grade. The Lochsa River would not be open to fishing.
The proposed bag limit for the Clearwater and its tributaries is up to four hatchery salmon per day, but only one of the four can be an adult fish - defined as being at least 24 inches in length.
Excluding some of the better fishing spots will allow the department to keep better tabs on harvest, said Don Whitney, a fisheries biologist for the department at Lewiston. He said fisheries managers will attempt to distribute the harvest throughout the open sections of the river by monitoring catch rates and closing down areas once they have reached predetermined quotas.
The commission is meeting by telephone this morning to take action on the proposal and ones for the Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake River in Hells Canyon. Those rivers are expecting bigger returns, and the fisheries there will be similar to ones seen in the recent past. For example, the proposal calls for fishing to be open seven days a week in all three areas and bag limits of four hatchery salmon per day with a maximum of two adults. The proposal calls for fishing on the lower Salmon River from Pine Bar upstream to the mouth of Shorts Creek above Riggins and on the Little Salmon from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smoky Boulder Road. The Snake would be open from Dug Bar to Hells Canyon Dam.
Whitney said the state will have a harvest share of about 1,500 fish on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and a much smaller one on the Clearwater River.
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