The Idaho Fish and Game was recently notified that the Big Lost Irrigation District will be draining the remaining storage water from Mackay Reservoir due to a faulty head gate by the end of August 2023. This action will result in little to no habitat being available for fish in Mackay Reservoir, and it is expected that many fish in the reservoir will ultimately die due to those circumstances.
Effective August 4, 2023, and continuing until October 31, 2023, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has ordered that all size and number limits are suspended on Mackay Reservoir. A salvage order has been issued to maximize utilization of the many hatchery-origin and wild-origin fish that will be influenced by these water management actions.
Salvage rules in accordance with Section 36-401, Idaho Code
- Fish may be taken by any method except firearms, explosives, chemicals or electric current.
- All size and number limits are suspended.
- A current and valid Idaho fishing license is required to salvage fish.
“While we anticipate large impacts to the reservoir fishery, we do not anticipate negative impacts to the tailrace fishery,” says Fisheries Manager Brett High. “This is one reason why the fish salvage only applies to the reservoir, and does NOT extend into the Big Lost River either upstream or downstream.”
Mackay Reservoir is fed by spring creeks and the Big Lost River, all of which in the section immediately upstream of the reservoir have water flowing year-round. This means that water will continue to flow through the area the reservoir typically occupies and continue downstream to support the fish in the tailrace of Mackay Dam.
“Good snowpack from the previous two winters has benefitted flows in these spring creeks enough that we anticipate base flows to be higher than normal compared to previous years when Mackay Reservoir has been drained due to drought,” says High. “Thus, the fishery downstream of Mackay will continue to support this significant fishery resource.”
If you have questions about the fish salvage, please contact the Upper Snake Regional Office at (208) 525-7290.