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Idaho Salmon Run Late, but Coming

by Staff
The Seattle Times, June 8, 2008

BOISE, Idaho - Fish biologists say Idaho's salmon run is running a little later this year, partly because the fish are navigating cold and murky rivers that were swelled by the spring's big snowmelt.

"Last year we had more fish at this time, but it was a low water year," Rapid River Hatchery manager Ralph Steiner told The Idaho Statesman. "Typically, the first fish to arrive at the hatchery is the third of May."

Last year salmon anglers caught and kept 964 salmon from the Little Salmon and Main Salmon rivers. This year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is predicting that about 4,000 salmon that return to Rapid River Hatchery will be available for anglers.

Though both rivers are currently open for fishing, the high water has kept most anglers away.

The salmon fishing season runs until June 22 on the Main Salmon and until Aug. 2 on the Little Salmon, unless Fish and Game officials decide to close the rivers sooner to protect wild fish.

With an estimated 4,000 salmon available, sportsmen could have trouble finding a lonely spot on the popular stretch between Rapid River and Riggins. A private landowner closed public access to much of his property downstream from Rapid River, building a fence between the river and U.S. 95 to mark the private land and not allowing access across the river on a new bridge.

Fish and Game officials say anglers can still get to the river on a strip of private property about 100 yards downriver of the new steel bridge, however.

"Much of the fishing access along the Little Salmon's west side is available this year, thanks to landowner generosity," said Evin Oneale of F&G's Nampa office. "That means anglers need to be respectful of private ground, by picking up their trash and otherwise treating the area as if they owned it."

Anglers can legally access either bank of the river by wading and staying below the high water line, which is typically the shoreline below any permanent vegetation. But anglers should use extreme caution while wading Little Salmon because it is swift, rocky and dangerous.

Department officials are exploring ways to alleviate crowding, including one option that would "recycle" fish by taking them out of a trap at Rapid River, loading them on a truck and putting them back in the main Salmon River near the Riggins boat ramp. Some fish may also be released into the Little Salmon above Rapid River to give anglers a chance to escape crowds.

Idaho Salmon Run Late, but Coming
The Seattle Times, June 8, 2008

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