Idaho salmon fishing season to begin, fish or not
Apr. 22, 2005 12:55 PM
LEWISTON, Idaho – The opening of salmon fishing in the Snake, Clearwater, Little Salmon and Salmon rivers will occur Saturday, despite only a handful of chinook in those rivers.
Through Tuesday, just three chinook were counted at Lower Granite Dam, 35 miles west of Lewiston. At Ice Harbor Dam, 43 chinook have been counted. Downriver at Bonneville Dam, 2,052 chinook have climbed the fish ladders on their way upriver. The 10-year average at Bonneville is more than 55,000 for this time of year.
Officials in Washington and Oregon have closed salmon fishing in the Columbia River and are waiting for the run to improve before allowing anglers back on the water. advertisement
In Idaho, fisheries officials are waiting for more fish to cross Bonneville Dam to determine if there will be enough to keep their seasons open. They want to know if the run is dismally low, extremely late or a combination of the two.
“If the low counts are a function of abundance and not related to timing, this run is a bust,” said Ed Schriever, regional fish manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston.
Pacific Northwest sportfishing and tribal fishing leaders say the scarcity of spring chinook in the Columbia Basin after projections of a strong return will be a devastating blow to the businesses and families who depend on the run for their livelihoods.
If the run is merely running late – about three weeks late – the season could be held as planned.