Idaho’s first specific coho fishing season opened Friday on the Clearwater River and before the weekend was over, the state had a new record for coho salmon.
Ethan Crawford caught a 9.4-pound coho, 31-inches long, in the Clearwater and had it officially weighed, according to Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department Clearwater Region fishery manager.
Crawford, 32, of Moscow is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist. He’s also worked for Idaho Fish and Game.
“Seeing this is basically the first fishery we have had on ocean going coho, it was not surprising to me to see the old record fall which was caught out of Cascade Reservoir (6 pounds) in 1992,” DuPont said. The previous records was a fish that spent its life in freshwater.
“I can tell you that there are many more out there that are even bigger,” he said, noting that a lot of fish in the 10-pound range are moving up the river.
“My brother and I had our steelheading gear, but we were targeting coho,” Crawford said.
“We saw a guide boat catch a coho side drifting, but it was snaggy so we just found a spot where we saw a few fish rolling and cast Vibrax spinners to the slow water toward shore.”
The brothers each caught a two-fish limit in a couple hours.
Anglers, many of them steelheaders, were bonking the coho and filleting them for the dinner table this weekend without even thinking about record books, DuPont said. Both clipped and unclipped coho can be kept during the fishery that runs through Nov. 16.
“My brother landed a female that was brighter than the one I caught for the record,” Crawford said. “We thought it was a steelhead at first.
“The flesh on mine was not bright red by any means, but it was fine smoked. My brother’s fish looked good. I think the edibility has to be made on a fish to fish basis.
“We hear people say the fish are black and why do we bother. We take what we can get this far upstream. This is the first coho season we’ve ever had and I’m not going to complain too much about the fish. Maybe in the future the coho season will be open earlier with the fall chinook. But for now, I’m happy.”
The Snake River run of coho was declared extinct in 1985. But the Nez Perce tribe began a restoration effort in the Clearwater River starting in 1995. The run gradually improved before taking a giant leap forward this fall with the return of more than 15,000 adults.
Ski area proposal meeting
The proposal to expand the downhill ski area at Mount Spokane State Park will get another public hearing in Spokane Valley next month.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has announced a special evening public meeting to take testimony about land classification options that could impact the expansion proposal.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Center Place Recreation Center, 2426 N. Discovery Pl. (Directions: http://mapq.st/1wkAbJJ)
“This will be the only opportunity for verbal public comment on the Mount Spokane issues prior to the Commission’s decisions on land classification and the proposed expansion at Mount Spokane at a regular meeting in Spokane the following day,” the commission said in a media release.
In 2010, Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park requested expanding the concession’s ski area by about 279 acres. The proposal involves adding one lift.
Nov. 14 is the deadline for written comments to the commission before its meeting. Email comments to Commission@parks.wa.gov.
The options the commission will choose from are spelled out online at 1.usa.gov/1u0NSOA.
This draft Environmental Impact Statement includes a previous round of public comments received through Sept. 30.
In 2010, Mount Spokane 2000 approached the Commission with a conceptual proposal to expand skiing into approximately 279 acres of an 800-acre portion of the park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area, an area that has not been assigned a land classification.
Options to be considered by the Commission on Nov. 20 include the following land classifications and associated potential development options:
• Natural Forest Area: Would allow no ski lift development and would limit recreation activity to Chair 4 Road as well as to a portion of a summit road and an existing mountain biking trail.
• Resource Recreation and Natural Forest Area: Would allow alpine skiing as a conditional use with no lift or formal runs constructed and limited clearing of downed or damaged trees to reduce hazards for backcountry skiers.
• Recreation, Resource Recreation and Natural Forest Area: Would permit ski lift development and runs and would provide for more vegetation clearing within the area designated Recreation, while offering a higher level of resource protection in the Resource Recreation portion and no development within the Natural Forest Area.
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