Sluggish Salmon Slow Season Startby Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, April 1, 2004
Fish and Game pushes back start of season by a week
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has pushed back by one week the proposed opening of the spring chinook fishing season.
Returning adult chinook have been slow to make an appearance at Bonneville Dam and fisheries officials want to make sure the run materializes as predicted before they allow fishing.
"We are not overly nervous yet but we are going to postpone taking the package to the commission and that is going to translate into a postponed opening date," said Ed Schriever, regional fisheries manager for the department at Lewiston.
The delay will affect only the Clearwater and Snake rivers, which were scheduled to open April 17. With the push back, the two rivers will now open April 24 along with the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The opening dates still have to be approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
Because the run has been slow to materialize in the Columbia River, Schriever said delaying the season should not result in missed fishing opportunity.
"There's not much sense in getting too far ahead of the game in opening the season when fishable numbers aren't going to be here," he said.
Through Monday, 541 adult spring chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam, far short of the 10-year average of 3,504. Of those already past Bonneville Dam, 45 have made it as far as McNary Dam. Last year at this time, almost 15,000 spring chinook had passed Bonneville Dam and four had crossed Lower Granite Dam, 35 miles west of Lewiston. But the 2003 run was considered early.
Biologists have predicted 114,000 to 167,000 spring and summer chinook will return above Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. Schriever said the predictions are only a tool.
"You can predict until you are blue in the face but they've got to show up to make it happen."
The department is proposing seasons on portions of the Clearwater, South Fork of the Clearwater, North Fork of the Clearwater, Lochsa, Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.
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