The season for hatchery spring chinook salmon on the Little Salmon River will open Friday, May 12, as proposed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Late last week the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed that the season did not pose a threat to wild salmon in the river. Authorization from that agency was required because of the presence of the wild salmon. The season is set to run through August 4, but could close earlier for biological reasons. Fishing hours in this season are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The boundaries on the Little Salmon River are from the main Salmon River road bridge on the Little Salmon River (road number 1614) upstream to the first highway bridge crossing the Little Salmon south of Rapid River. This is the highway bridge between Rapid River and the Sheep Creek rest area. Limits in all areas are three per day and six in possession. The statewide season limit is 20. Only hatchery chinook without an adipose fin may be kept. Once an angler reaches his or her limit, it is not legal to continue fishing for salmon.
Q. Why do I have to give my Social Security number when I just want to buy a hunting or fishing license? A. We have to have the Social Security number because it is an Idaho law. Idaho Code, Section 73-122 states "the social security number of an applicant shall be recorded on any application for a professional, occupational, and recreational license." This law has been in effect for several years and has been unpopular with many Fish and Game license buyers. At least one Idaho legislator has vowed to try to exempt Fish and Game licenses from the law in a coming session of the legislature, something you might want to watch for and support.
The outlook for salmon fishing in Idaho is even better than it was when a season was approved last week. The spring chinook run at Bonneville Dam was 133,358 on May 3, the best for this date since 1974. Earlier projections were for a total run of 133,300. The projected run is now estimated at 164,000 fish. The run through Lower Granite Dam, the last dam on the Lower Snake River before the Idaho border, was 7,868, similar to the run at this date in 1992. Adult spring chinook are crossing Lower Granite Dam at about 1,000 per day. Fishing is for hatchery chinook only. Wild chinook are strictly protected under the Endangered Species Act. The season will open May 5 in the North Fork and main Clearwater River. In the South Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa rivers, the season will open May 27. Fishing hours on these streams will be from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Both will close July 31, but could be closed earlier if projected run numbers fail to appear. In the Lochsa River, no bait is allowed in order to keep the salmon rules the same as the general fishing rules. It is also limited to artificial flies or lures with single barbless hooks. Boundaries on the main Clearwater River will be from Memorial Bridge at Lewiston upstream to the confluence with the South Fork, excluding the perimeter of Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. The North Fork of the Clearwater will be open from its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam, again excluding the perimeter of Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. The South Fork of the Clearwater will be open from its mouth upstream to Hungry Ridge Bridge at Mill Creek, and the Lochsa River will be open from its mouth upstream to Papoose Creek.
Idaho trout anglers can catch cash prizes while enjoying their sport and, at the same time, help Fish and Game researchers improve the hatchery program. What researchers want to know is which hatcheries are producing the most catchable of catchable trout. The three million or so trout Fish and Game plants every year are meant to be taken by anglers; planting trout that are not caught does not help fish populations in the long term and is not an effective use of anglers' license dollars. Researchers have seen evidence over the years to indicate that certain hatcheries may be turning out a more often caught trout than other hatcheries do. With the help of anglers this year, they intend to try to learn whether that is true. Tagging some trout and paying prizes to anglers who return the tags is more cost effective than doing the more traditional creel census. The tagged trout will go into easily accessible, popular fishing waters in southern Idaho including Lava Lake, Dierkes Lake, Mountain Home Reservoir, Dog Creek Reservoir, Park Center Pond in Boise, Blair Trail, Sublette Reservoir, Cove Arm Reservoir, Little Camas, Deep Creek, Roseworth Reservoir, Mann Creek Reservoir, Hawkins, Magic Reservoir, Featherville and Horsethief Reservoir. All the waters are located in the Magic Valley and Southwest Regions. The trout will come from Fish and Game's three biggest hatcheries_Nampa, Hagerman and American Falls.
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