Outdoors

Access to Little Salmon River hinges on angler respect

This sign was posted on private land along the Little Salmon River near Riggins long before the landowner signed an agreement with Idaho Fish and Game to allow public access if anglers mind a negotiated set of rules. (Eric Barker / Lewiston Tribune)
This sign was posted on private land along the Little Salmon River near Riggins long before the landowner signed an agreement with Idaho Fish and Game to allow public access if anglers mind a negotiated set of rules. (Eric Barker / Lewiston Tribune)

FISHING — A popular stretch of the Little Salmon River at Riggins, Idaho, will be accessible for the spring salmon season thanks to an agreement forged by Fish and Game staff and the local landowner. 

The only “catch” is, salmon anglers have to be on their best behavior, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say.

In other words, anglers who have the attitude that they have a right to go get to the river regardless of who owns the property could ruin the deal for everyone.

All property on both sides of the Little Salmon from its confluence with Rapid River downstream to milepost 193 is now privately owned, but the 18-month lease targeting the west bank of this river reach will give anglers access to many coveted salmon fishing holes.

“The Department of Fish and Game is obviously pleased with the agreement we’ve reached with the landowner that continues to allow salmon and steelhead fishing access to the Little Salmon River across his private property,” said Virgil Moore, agency director. “The continued use of this segment of the river relies on all of us honoring the access rules outlined in the agreement and respecting private property.”

The local landowner was equally pleased. “We are delighted to have worked with Fish and Game staff to develop this agreement,” property owner Ralph Sletager said. “The agreement provides great fishing access for the public and addresses our concerns as property owners.”

A Little Salmon River access map and rules brochure will soon be available on the Fish and Game website, and also at the Lewiston, McCall and Nampa Fish and Game offices.

Read on for details:

The new agreement contains these specific provisions regarding the leased property:

  • Only fishing activities are allowed on the property and only between the hours of 5:00am and 10:30 pm. No camping or campfires are allowed.
  • No garbage service is available. Anglers must pack in/pack out their trash.
  • Anglers are allowed to wade and fish from the Little Salmon River/Rapid River Confluence downstream to where no trespassing signs are posted, approximately 300 feet south (upriver) of the River Ranch bridge spanning the Little Salmon River.
  • Anglers may NOT cross the Little Salmon River from the leased property to access the river’s east bank.
  • No discharge of firearms is allowed on the property.
  • No watercraft may be launched on the Little Salmon River from the property.
  • No commercial use is allowed on the property.

Even while this agreement remains in force, Fish and Game staff are working with the landowner to secure a long-term solution to fishing access along the Little Salmon River.

“I can’t overstate the need for anglers to play by these rules and otherwise respect this private property,” Fish and Game wildlife habitat manager Jim White said. “Angler behavior in the weeks ahead will play a significant role in our ability to develop a far-reaching agreement with the landowner.”

Anglers are encouraged to police themselves during the upcoming salmon season. Fish and Game conservation officers, together with deputies from the Idaho County Sheriff’s office will be patrolling the area throughout the salmon season.

For more information regarding the upcoming salmon season on the Little Salmon River, please visit the Fish and Game website.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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