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Idaho Fish and Game

Panther Creek Opened to Chinook Fishing

Meeting by conference call June 21, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a season on hatchery chinook salmon for Panther Creek in the Salmon Region. The season opened June 22. It will run through August 5 unless it is closed earlier for biological reasons. Fish and Game fisheries managers plan to transport at least 1,500 hatchery summer chinook salmon to Panther Creek that were trapped at the upper South Fork Salmon River, where hatchery fish are trapped for McCall Hatchery. Biologists estimate that at least 12,000 hatchery summer chinook have crossed Lower Granite Dam, bound for the South Fork of the Salmon River. Idaho's wild chinook are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, but fishing is allowed for unlisted hatchery-reared chinook. Hatchery chinook are distinguished by a clipped adipose fin, the last fin on the top of the fish. All fish going to Panther Creek will be clipped. The first truckload of about 400 chinook went to Panther Creek on June 21 with more to follow on a weekly basis. "Even with a significant sport and tribal fishery on the South Fork of the Salmon, we will still trap more fish than we need for broodstock," Sharon Kiefer, Anadromous Fishery Manager said. "We will use these fish for several purposes - for seasons in the South Fork of the Salmon River and Panther Creek, for natural production in appropriate areas, and for subsistence use." Panther Creek is an area where Fish and Game can consider an experimental transfer because native salmon and steelhead no longer return to this drainage. Panther Creek flows into the Main Salmon River between the Middle Fork and the North Fork of the Salmon River, near the town of Shoup. The Panther Creek road runs along the stream and can be reached by heading about 18 miles north of Salmon on Highway 93 and turning west onto the Salmon River road at the town of North Fork. The Panther Creek turnoff is another 27 miles down the Salmon River road. Panther Creek can also be reached from the Morgan Creek road, north of Challis. "A fishery in Panther Creek certainly does not reflect the opportunity for salmon fishing historically enjoyed in the upper Salmon River drainage, but this fish transfer allows Fish and Game to meet two fish management objectives. It allows us an opportunity to offer salmon fishing in the upper Salmon River area that does not impact listed salmon and it allows us to study the spawning behavior of the South Fork stock. This stock of fish has been identified as a potential hatchery stock for future reintroduction efforts in Panther Creek, so we get to collect some information now to help us with planning for reintroduction," Kiefer said. Anglers will notice the fish have been marked with gill cover punches, which will help determine if these fish stray out of Panther Creek. The last time there was salmon fishing in Panther Creek was in 1986. In that year, about 1,200 anglers caught 1,193 and harvested 834 hatchery chinook salmon that had been transported from Pahsimeroi Hatchery. The fishery is limited to the mainstem of Panther Creek from Clear Creek upstream to Moyer Creek. Limits are two per day. Anglers may have four salmon in possession in the field or while in transit home. Anyone who has caught their daily limit in another area, for instance the South Fork Salmon River, cannot continue to fish with the other salmon still in possession, because the daily limit on Panther Creek would have already been reached or passed. The statewide season limit is 40. Since 20 salmon can be recorded on one permit, a second salmon permit must be purchased to keep 40 fish. All salmon harvested statewide must be included in the season limit. Fishing hours are from one half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, Mountain Daylight Time. All anglers - successful and unsuccessful - are required to stop at any Fish and Game check station they encounter. Anglers need a salmon permit to fish for these hatchery fish, and with each fish kept, the permit must be notched to indicate the catch. Kids under 14 can fish without a permit as long as they fish with an adult who has a permit, and their catch is recorded on the adult's permit. Resident youngsters can also purchase a permit of their own and keep their own limit, even if they are younger than the required age for buying a fishing license. Regulations pamphlets for the Panther Creek season are available at Fish and Game offices and vendors in the Salmon area. Rules are also posted on the Fish and Game internet web site at