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Idaho alters chinook fishing regulations after low return

In this Oct. 17, 2013 photo, a wild Idaho Salmon River steelhead is netted and quickly released in the Salmon River north of Riggins, Idaho. (Pete Zimowsky / Associated Press)
In this Oct. 17, 2013 photo, a wild Idaho Salmon River steelhead is netted and quickly released in the Salmon River north of Riggins, Idaho. (Pete Zimowsky / Associated Press)

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will close chinook fishing on some stretches of the lower Salmon River and reduce bag limits and fishing days there and on the Little Salmon River. However, the commission also approved a summer chinook season on the Lochsa, upper Salmon and South Fork of the Salmon rivers.

A disappointing return of spring chinook bound for Rapid River Hatchery prompted the move to close the lower Salmon River between Rice Creek Bridge near Cottonwood and the southernmost Twin Bridges near White Bird, and from Shorts Creek near Riggins to the Vinegar Creek boat launch. The closure takes effect Saturday.

The commission also reduced bag limits on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers from two adult chinook per day to one per day, and reduced fishing on both rivers to four days a week – Thursdays through Sundays. Those changes will also take effect Saturday.

Fisheries managers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are expecting a harvest share for the Rapid River run of just 640 adult chinook. The moves will allow fisheries officials to better monitor harvest and help ensure that enough chinook make it back to the hatchery for spawning.

Anglers are gaining some salmon fishing opportunities on the Lochsa River, South Fork of the Salmon River and the upper Salmon River. The commission approved summer chinook seasons that will begin June 23 on parts of all three rivers. The bag limit for the Lochsa River will be one adult chinook per day and anglers will be allowed to keep chinook with intact adipose fins. The river is projected to have a harvest share of about 100 adult chinook.

The South Fork of the Salmon River and the upper Salmon River will have a daily bag limit of two adult chinook. Anglers are expected to have a harvest share of about 650 adult chinook on the South Fork and about 550 on the upper Salmon.


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