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Outdoors blog

Researchers ask anglers to help with Spirit Lake chinook

Chinook salmon. (Idaho Department of Fish and Game)
Chinook salmon. (Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

FISHING -- Anglers in North Idaho who catch chinook in Spirit Lake can help fisheries researchers by dropping off a tissue sample at drop boxes being installed at one or more boat access points.

“To evaluate the performance of these fish, we are asking for anglers to provide fin clips,” said Phil Branigan, Idaho Fish and Game Department research biologist.

The agency is stocking two types of chinook in Spirit and three Southern Idaho reservoirs, sterile and fertile. The study seeks to learn  which ones are more likely to get caught by anglers. The four-year study also is evaluating how the two types of chinook differ in growth rates.

Chinook released in Spirit Lake last fall have clipped adipose fins. They also can be identified by black spots on their backs and black gum lines.

"We released 2,500 triploid (sterile) chinook and 2,500 diploid (normal) chinook," said Carson Watkins, research biologist in Coeur d'Alene. "They're running about 10 inches long this spring."

If you catch a chinook, clip a small (about the size of a hole punch) portion of any fin regardless of whether you're harvesting the fish or releasing it, the researchers say. A sample can be taken from any size of chinook.

Place the fin clip in an envelope provided at lakeside kiosks. Seal the envelope and keep it dry to avoid spoiling and deposit the envelope in the drop box at the kiosk, which is scheduled to be installed at the Main Street access this week. Another is tentatively planned for the Maiden Rock access.

Land-locked chinoook are stocked in several lakes in Idaho as a trophy fish as well as a predator to keep kokanee from getting overpopulated and undersized, Branigan said.

“We’re hopeful that by stocking the best type of chinook, we can ultimately make fishing better, so we’re optimistic anglers will help us with this project,” he said.


Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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