Salmon Surprise on the South Forkby Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, June 21, 2013
Chinook outstrip expectations with early run, healthy numbers
The summer chinook run that fisheries managers are trying to establish in the South Fork of the Clearwater River is off to a promising start.
In the spring of 2011, 200,000 summer chinook smolts borrowed from the McCall Hatchery were released into Crooked River near Elk City. Fisheries managers from Idaho and the Nez Perce Tribe hope to ramp up juvenile releases each year and eventually grow the run large enough to support fishing.
The juveniles that were released two years ago are returning this month, and Idaho Fish and Game officials say it appears they will meet the target return of at least 150 fish needed to produce 400,000 more juveniles.
"As of two days ago, we had 148 over Lower Granite," said Joe DuPont, fisheries manager for the department at Lewiston.
He said having enough adults return during the first year is critical. When fisheries officials establish a new run, returns are often poor in the early going.
"If you take the offspring of the fish that make the journey the first time, the survival is much higher," DuPont said.
Those 148 fish have been trickling over Lower Granite for the past three weeks, a bit earlier than expected. The idea is to establish a summer run that will follow quickly on the heels of the spring run and allow anglers more opportunity to catch salmon.
DuPont said the department hopes the run is large enough to release at least 400,000 juveniles and as many as 600,000. Eventually, fisheries officials would like to release 1 million juveniles a year.
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