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"Gone Fishin'" Signs Scarce this Year

by Gary Stivers
Sun Valley Online, May 31, 2007

Riggins, Idaho, 37 miles south of Grangeville. If you blinked, you missed it. The salmon fishing season in Idaho has already closed on some rivers this week though fishing will continue on the Lower Salmon near Riggins through this Saturday.

The closings came much sooner than the traditional date of June 25th. Businesses in several Idaho small towns who were betting on making good money during the salmon season are instead tallying up their losses this week.

The fishing has already been canceled on two rivers, and it ends on the Lower Salmon River near Riggins this Saturday. Gary Lane with Wapiti River Guides in Riggins says so few fish returned that the subsequent fishing restrictions kept anglers away.

"Usually, there's elbow-to-elbow fishing on the little river and fairly crowded on the big river, but we've had pretty good elbow room for the most part this year," Lane said.

The number of adult returning salmon is down for the sixth straight year. Lane blames the four lower Snake River dams and he says every year the dams are in place is another year of struggle for small river towns.

Lane acknowledges there were a mix of factors that keep sport fishers home this year.

"There were reports of fewer numbers of fish, the price of gas spiked and only being able to keep one fish a day might have had something to do with it," Lane observed.

Still, the big fish are at the heart of many Idaho towns' economies and their absence is shaking retailers faith in their future, Lane said.

Gary Stivers
"Gone Fishin'" Signs Scarce this Year
Sun Valley Online, May 31, 2007

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