I have fished Hells Canyon for years, it is remote, quiet and a beautiful place to fish for this prized fish, every year extra steel head are trapped in addition to the hatchery needs to plant the Boise River as well as other locations. I know this is to sell tags but the fish put in these systems are at best caught for only a couple days, myself and many of my friends see a huge decrease in fishing as hundreds of these fish are removed from Hells Canyon, has fish and game ever considered sharing the pain and trapping a portion of these fish from the Salmon river?
Yes, we have considered many options for how we operate the steelhead trapping and translocation program as it seems to receive an inordinate amount of scrutiny. For Idaho's share, we try to find a balance between meeting broodstock needs, and providing harvest opportunity downstream of Hells Canyon and in other locations. Currently, we purposefully delay the opening date of the Hells Canyon trap to meet the needs of fishermen downstream of Hells Canyon. After November 1, we usually begin trapping efforts to capture fish for the Boise River. As for the notion that we are doing this simply to sell tags and that translocated fish only last a couple of days, I don't agree. We operate the translocation program to provide a unique fishery to a large number of people that might not find the time to travel to do so. Plus, this program reminds people of what was once in the Boise River and other systems that no longer provide anadromous fishing opportunity. Sure, the fact that these anglers buy tags is a bonus, but it certainly is not the reason why we choose to provide this fishery. As for residence time, it is true that a lot of the harvest and effort occur within the first few days. However, we see steelhead-related fishing effort for several weeks after the last stocking event and stocked steelhead live for several months after being translocated. Last weekend, we received a report of one angler catching 2 steelhead in the Boise River in one day, around three months post translocation. These reports are not uncommon. As for utilizing Salmon River fish, I don't see that this option is feasible. As you probably know, almost Salmon River trapping locations are located much farther upstream and steelhead do not begin to show up at the facilities until the spring at which time they are in much worse condition to the point that translocating wouldn't provide decent fisheries.