IDFG Approves Coho Fishing Season,
by Eric Barker
Idaho Fish and Game commissioners voted this morning during a telephone meeting to approve a coho fishing season but to delay a decision on restoring a steelhead harvest.
On Friday, fisheries managers released a proposal that would have allowed anglers to harvest steelhead while requiring them to release larger B-run fish bound for the Clearwater River and its tributaries.
Harvest season was closed statewide on Aug. 15 in favor for catch-and-release fishing because of the poorly preforming run. Numbers of Idaho-bound hatchery steelhead, while still low, have improved over the past six weeks and fisheries managers said they are comfortable that limited harvest can be restored without jeopardizing hatchery spawning goals.
Commissioners, however, said in a 6-0 vote they want to give anglers more time to comment on the proposed harvest seasons and they want fisheries managers to continue to monitor steelhead passage at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River to make sure harvest doesn't jeopardize spawning goals or wild fish escapement. Through Sunday, 13,415 steelhead had been counted at the dam. The 10-year average is 87,634.
"We are going to wait two weeks and revisit the issue and make a judgement," said commissioner Dan Blanco of Moscow.
Blanco said even with the short notice on the proposal, he heard from scores of anglers opposed to restoring harvest.
"Despite the brief time frame the public had to react there was a lot of reaction," Blaco said. "I got a petition with 52 signatures on it and there was a whole raft of emails sent to the commission over this."
The commissioner attended the annual Spey Clave, a gathering of fly fishermen, at Lenore Saturday where he said participants strongly favored keeping catch-and-release rules.
"I think people decided they were going to do what they could in the time available and I would say they were very effective," Blanco said.
Coho fishing will open on the Clearwater River from its mouth to the mouth of Clear Creek near Kooskia and on the North Fork Clearwater below Dworshak Dam on Saturday with a daily bag limit of two fish per day.
Idaho Taking Public Comment on Opening Weak Steelhead Run to Harvest by Rich Landers, Spokesman-Review, 10/3/17
Fisheries Managers Forecast 'Unprecedentedly Low' Summer Steelhead by George Plaven, East Oregonian, 5/22/17
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