Cutthroat run sizes in Rainey Creek continue to lag behind spawning runs in the other tributaries despite the fact that Rainey Creek is the South Fork Snake River’s largest tributary by drainage area. In 2016, 19 Cutthroat were captured at the Rainey Creek weir while runs at the other three main tributaries ranged from 958 to 3,240 trout. As such, there is much room for improvement to recover fluvial Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout in this important spawning tributary.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is initiating a research and monitoring effort in 2017 to identify limiting factors for cutthroat trout in Rainey Creek, and test recovery strategies. Issues we believe are worth looking at include evaluating connectivity, survival rates for young cutthroat migrating down through Rainey Creek, and the use of stocking eyed eggs to “jump start” the fluvial population. All these questions will be addressed starting this spring by using a combination of radio tagging and tracking, stocking of eyed eggs, and fish trapping efforts for juvenile trout using a variety of fish traps.
This work will be a major undertaking in Rainey Creek and will provide a variety of volunteer opportunities for those wishing to take part. Opportunities to volunteer include assisting IDFG during spawner collection (mid-June), weir operation and radio tagging (June), fry trapping (July – Oct), and backpack electrofishing (July – Sep).
Anyone interested in helping IDFG are encouraged to contact James Brower at the IDFG Upper Snake Region office (208-525-7290) and sign up on his volunteer list. Let James know that you want to help on the Rainey Creek Project. As the IDFG volunteer coordinator, James Brower will inform volunteers of opportunities as they arise, as well as direction on how to participate. . If you would like more information about any of these opportunities, please contact Brett High at 525-7290 or via e-mail at Brett.High@idfg.idaho.gov