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Idaho Still "Fishing" for Cash Opportunity

July 2, 2007

Catching an Idaho signature salmon for the dinner table is a tricky catch this year. Fishing seasons have been short and few, although another chance is underway on the South Fork of the Salmon River this week. Fisheries biologist Bert Bowler with Idaho Rivers United predicts it won't last long because there are so few returning fish. But, he has high hopes for next year.

“The jack counts, which are the indicators for the adult returns next year, are a ten-fold increase at the Lower Granite.”

Bowler notes that interest in regular salmon fishing seasons for Idaho is strong because of a recent economic study that shows sport fishing and tourism could bring more than $500 million a year to rural areas.

Bowler adds that regular, dependable fishing seasons with plentiful wild fish won't happen until the four dams on the Lower Snake River are removed -- a proposal that's a political hot potato for the state. He says salmon can be very adaptable to changes in the river, but putting in the dams so quickly didn't give them a chance to evolve.

“We're able to push them to extinction in decades when they were able to survive millions of years.”

Chinook salmon fishing season information can be found online at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/rules/chinook_seasons/07chinook_season2.pdf.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ID