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Boise, Weiser, Payette Rivers May Get Salmon

by Roger Phillips
The Idaho Statesman, May 18, 2001

F&G proposes angling season for hatchery fish

Boise anglers may not have to travel to the Salmon River to catch salmon -- the salmon may be coming to Boise.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is proposing a season for hatchery-raised salmon on the Boise, Payette and Weiser rivers starting June 2, pending approval from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The salmon would be trucked from the Rapid River hatchery near Riggins.

The department also is proposing a season on the South Fork of the Salmon River starting June 11. Both seasons would remain open until Aug. 5.

F&G commissioners heard the proposals at their regular meeting Thursday on Kelly Creek. They will have a special meeting to approve the seasons.

Commissioners are expected to meet via telephone conference later this month to vote on the proposals. The salmon seasons also will require final approval from NMFS, which already has tentatively agreed to them, according to F&G Fisheries Bureau Chief Virgil Moore.

F&G plans initially to stock about 2,000 chinook in the Boise, Payette and Weiser rivers, Moore said.

The fish would be stocked within the Boise city limits, in the North Fork of the Payette River near Cascade, and in the Weiser River near Tamarack south of New Meadows.

Moore expects the Boise River will be in prime shape for the salmon and anglers.

"There should be some real good opportunities in Boise to harvest these fish," he said. "I anticipate people will harvest a fair number of them. It should be exciting."

F&G is proposing a two-fish per-day bag limit and four in possession. The season limit will remain the same -- 40 salmon. All anglers would have to possess a salmon tag to harvest the fish.

After initial stocking, the department would monitor angling success, and more salmon could be stocked wherever the most are caught.

Moore said continued stocking would depend on the number of surplus fish available at the Rapid River hatchery and the number of trucks available to transport them.

Trucks could be in tight supply because spring is the busy season for trout stocking as well, he said.

"Our biggest limitation is going to be transportation," Moore said. "All our trucks are going crazy right now moving fish everywhere."

Trucks won't be required for the South Fork of the Salmon River because a surplus of hatchery fish is expected to return this summer.

F&G is projecting a surplus between 2,200 and 2,700 salmon returning to the South Fork. Fishing would be allowed from below the South Fork's fish trap to Goat Creek.

The season on the South Fork is scheduled to open later because it contains summer-run chinook. Only hatchery fish with missing adipose fins could be harvested, and bag limits would also be two fish per day and four in possession.

The South Fork had a brief salmon fishing season last summer, which ended when the quota of incidentally caught wild salmon was met.

That quota is much higher under this year's proposal, Moore said.

F&G estimates 10 percent mortality on all wild salmon caught and released. Last year's incidental take quota was met when 140 wild salmon were caught and released.

This year, the proposed incidental take quota is 10 times higher, which means 1,440 wild salmon can be caught and released before the season would be closed.

"Hopefully, that will leave the season open much longer," Moore said.

So far, Idaho anglers have been enthusiastic about the salmon season, which opened last month on the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

F&G reported sales of 5,200 salmon tags in April, not including those sold in sportsmen's packages. That compares with 600 salmon tags sold at that time last year.

Roger Phillips
Boise, Weiser, Payette Rivers May Get Salmon
Idaho Statesman, May 18, 2001

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