Fish and Game Stops
An extremely small number of steelhead returning to Idaho so far has prompted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to close all rivers to harvest for the fall season, beginning Aug. 17. Catch-and-release fishing remains open.
Since 1987, all wild fish have been required to be returned to the river. This year, due to the low numbers, hatchery fish must also be returned.
Steelhead season on the Salmon River is normally Sept. 1 to April 30, three per day, nine in possession, with a catch-and-release season Aug. 1-31.
The department stated in a press release that through Aug. 14, about 400 steelhead crossed Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River, about 30 miles downstream from Lewiston—a small fraction of the 10-year average of about 6,000.
The department stated that closing harvest of hatchery steelhead while leaving it open for catch-and-release fishing will help ensure that enough broodstock return to steelhead hatcheries to produce the next generation of fish.
Though only a fraction of the steelhead run has crossed Lower Granite Dam, fisheries managers are tracking the run as it moves upstream.
Historic run data show that by Aug. 15, about half the fish should have already crossed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, the first dam where the fish are counted. Through Aug. 14, only 3,900 Idaho steelhead had crossed Bonneville.
For full coverage of this story, check the Friday, Aug. 18, edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.
Fisheries Managers Forecast 'Unprecedentedly Low' Summer Steelhead by George Plaven, East Oregonian, 5/22/17
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