Friday, June 28, 2013

4,000 Trout Stocked in River

Anne Blackwood
IDFG Staff at the Stanley-area Sawtooth Hatchery have been busy lately. When The Salmon River finally dropped down to a decent "summertime fishing level," IDFG went into overdrive to stock trout at various points from Hell Roaring Creek downriver to Slate Creek in the Sawtooth Nat'l Recreation Area.

This week alone, 4,000 of the stocker trout were released into the river.  That brings the season total to 8,000!  In addition, hundreds more were placed in the two kid's ponds at the Hatchery and Squaw Creek, as well as another 1,500 total in Valley Creek.

Meanwhile, IDFG Hatchery Staff quite literally have their hands full clearing the chinook salmon trap each day.  Returning salmon numbers in the trap have been as high as 108.  Even on a slow day, Staff will process dozens of the fish each morning at 9 am.  This year Anne Blackwood is onboard preparing the trout stocking notices, putting together daily trap reports, updating the Sawtooth Hatchery's fine facebook page and taking lots of fine fotos of all the chinook salmon action.  We are grateful for Anne's enthusiastic approach to keeping us all informed about the activities taking place during the Hatchery "busy season."

The latest stocking report is below.  Here is the Hatchery's Facebook Page:
(You can click the image below to see a larger, more readable version.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

109 Chinooks on June 24

The Sawtooth Hatchery recorded its busiest day of the 2013 season June 24 when 109 chinook salmon were counted and processed out of the trap.  The big day Monday brought the total trapped since June 10 to 590 fish.Hatchery Manager Brent Snyder (lower left in collage) is all smiles with such a productive day.
To see full size versions of the photos below visit the Hatchery's Facebook page:

Chinook Salmon Return update

Although the numbers of chinook trapped at the IDFG Hatchery near Stanley are approaching 500, chances remain slim for a chinook salmon fishing season.

IDFG fisheries biologists continue to project the Hatchery will meet the brood stock goal of 940 adult chinooks but doubt there will be enough returning fish above and beyond brood stock goal to allow for a salmon fishing season.

As of yesterday, the Hatchery had 482 total fish trapped, including 52 natural (non-hatchery-raised) fish. Of that total 157 were female chinooks. The 940 fish brood stock goal would need to include about half females.

As one IDFG Fisheries biologist said, "It's highly unlikely there will be any chinook season on The Upper Salmon River but we will keep a close eye on the numbers and never entirely close the door on that possibility."

Salmon run numbers and PIT tag numbers over Bonneville and Lower Granite Dams continue to lag the 10-year-average and appear just barely adequate to meet the Hatchery brood stock goal. IDFG fisheries biologists indicate they would have to see a significant (and, at this point, unexpected) increase in returning chinooks to even consider the possibility of a salmon fishing season this year.

Lower Granite return numbers are lagging the 10-year-average by 36 percent.  Bonneville's numbers are 29 percent below the cumulative 10-year-average. Bonneville chinook numbers have picked up in the past few days, however, and are running roughly "plus or minus" in the vicinity of the daily 10-year-average numbers.

Below are two screen clips. The first is Lower Granite and the second is Bonneville.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trout stocking in full swing

As you can see from the above official IDFG report released June 20, trout stocking is once again in full swing for the summer season.  The Salmon River received a total of 4,000 fish!  The popular Valley Creek to Yankee Fork stretch received the most fish.  Not surprisingly, that stretch receives the most fishing pressure, especially near any place where parking is safe and the river is easy to access.  The 1,200 trout stocked between Hell Roaring Bridge and Redfish Lake Creek will be somewhat more difficult for fishermen to find as access is somewhat more spotty.  Typically, the first river stocking of the year features large quantities of fish to jump start the trout fishing season.  Note that the Yankee Fork Dredge Pond received a large allotment of the hatchery-raised trout.  This spot is very popular with Families and their children.  For those wishing a more out-of-the-way fishing experience, Little Bayhorse Lake is looking good with the placement of 1,000 trout there.

Meanwhile, as of June 20, 303 chinook salmon have returned to the Sawtooth Hatchery!  Visitors can watch the clearing of the chinook trap each morning at 9 am.  This is an exciting daily activity as Sawtooth Hatchery Staff work together quickly in a carefully choreographed manner to safely process the incoming brood stock.  The Hatchery's brood stock goal this year is roughly 900-950 fish.  IDFG Fisheries biologists are optimistic the Sawtooth Hatchery to meet its 2013 brood stock goal but are on record as stating they don't think the Pahsimeroi will meet its brood stock goal.

The Sawtooth Hatchery also gives daily tours at 1:30 pm each day. For 62 recent photos of chinook trapping and processing, visit the Sawtooth Hatchery's Facebook page:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


We have been remiss in posting up to this website.  Thank You for your patience.  We have, however, been doing a LOT of posting to this website's companion Facebook account.  There is a lot to read on that Facebook.  Here is the address:

This morning we are leaving on a road trip that will eventually take up to Salmon River Country.  We hope to get caught up with our backlog of articles here by the end of this month.  We appreciate your readership and look forward to resuming a steady stream of article again after this road trip.  Thank You!  John Parsons

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

No salmon season

Note the 10-year-avg. number on this graph is not correct for June 10.  See the DART data below.
As of June 11, IDFG Fisheries Staff does not plan to recommend any chinook salmon fishing season on The Upper Salmon River. There will not be a recommendation for a "Jacks Only" season and there will be no fishing for any adult chinook salmon. IDFG Fisheries Staff is concerned the Pahsimeroi Hatchery may not reach its broodstock goal of 700 adult fish. Staff projects the Sawtooth Hatchery will probably reach its broodstock goal of 900-950 fish.

IDFG Fisheries Staff decided against a "Jacks Only" season because of the likelihood that anglers would inevitably have some impact on the adult chinooks as well. Adult chinook salmon run numbers over Lower Granite Dam continue to disappoint and are well below both pre-season projections and the 10-year-average. Adults numbers are almost a third below the 10-year-average.  So far, as of June 10, 32,028 adults have crossed Lower Granite versus the 10-year-average of 47,387 for that date.

This season's early peak at Lower Granite occurred on May 12 when 2501 chinook adults were counted.  The 10-year-average peak is on May 19th.

Jack numbers are more than double the 10-year-average.  IDFG Fisheries Staff considered a "Jacks Only" season during the past few weeks.  However, as adult numbers continued to lag the 10-year-average, concern grew about making broodstock goals at the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth Hatcheries.  IDFG Staff weighed the potential impact of "jack fishing" on the dwindling adult population and decided not to pose additional risks to the returning adults.

We will check back with the IDFG Fisheries Staff again in the middle of next week.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Steelhead spawn in Yankee Fork

Yankee Fork Rehabilitation Project partners shared excitement and satisfaction this spring when a few steelhead returned to a newly rehabilitated channel to spawn.  The video shown below tells it far better than any words we could use here to describe this great success story.  Congratulations to the YFRP partners!

If the video won't load, here is the direct link:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

SNRA enters National Monument dialog

Most readers know about Congressman Mike Simpson's long-running efforts to obtain legislative wilderness designation for about 300,000 acres of the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in The Salmon River headwaters.  Simpson has been working on what's known as CEIDRA legislature for 10 years or more.
Click here for Congressman Simpson's official CEIDRA website:

Recently, various individuals and organizations began exploring the idea of creating a National Monument encompassing some or all of the land in Simpson's CEIDRA proposals.  Meanwhile, discussion of the National Monument concept appears to have broadened to possibly include portions or all of the 758,000 acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA).

In a June 4th column titled "Monument at stake in central Idaho" Rocky Barker, a writer for Boise's "The Idaho Statesman" wrote, "Craig Gehrke, Wilderness Society regional representative in Boise, said Obama should consider including the entire 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area in a new monument.

Gehrke and (Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor Becky) Nourse both said the Obama administration's review should at least consider turning the entire SNRA into a national monument.

"Something like that would certainly be a valid question to ask," said Nourse, who runs the area out of Twins Falls.

Gehrke and Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Rick Johnson agree. Johnson told his members at its annual Wild Idaho conference at Redfish Lake last month that he wanted a national monument in which all Idahoans could take pride."

Click here to read Reporter Rocky Barker's entire column.

While wilderness designation requires an act of Congress, the President can create a National Monument with his signature, utilizing The Antiquities Act of 1906.

Below are three maps showing Congressman Simpson's various proposed wilderness areas.  A map of the SNRA from The Sawtooth Society is included for reference.

Chances "iffy" for chinook salmon season

The Chinook salmon run numbers over Lower Granite Dam are well below pre-season forecasts. IDFG Fisheries biologists are watching numbers closely and may know by June 10 whether they might recommend a very limited chinook fishing season.

Run numbers are 33% below the ten year average at Lower Granite. Jack numbers are somewhat higher and there is a possibility of a limited "jacks-only" season. No decisions have been made by IDFG Fisheries Staff at this time. Any discussion of a possible season is purely speculative at this time.

If IDFG Staff decides to recommend either a limited chinook or a "jacks only" season, the recommendation would have to be approved by the IDFG Commission. Typically, the Commission uses a conference call meeting to vote on any such recommendation.

It's possible the IDFG Fisheries Staff might know by June 10th whether they plan to recommend or not recommend a salmon fishing season on one or more sections of The Upper Salmon River.

Dugout Dick Dedication

The legendary Dugout Dick died over 3 yeas ago. All traces of his famous caves were obliterated by the BLM. Richard Zimmerman was buried in Illinois. After he and his caves were gone, there was nothing to help people who anything about a modest man who made a major mark.

Finally, a modest memorial is in place and it will be formally dedicated at 11 am Friday, June 7, during the Salmon Riverfest event. Working with Salmon High School art students and urged on by an ardent Dugout Dick fan, the BLM prepared and installed three interpretive signs in the area where Dugout once cultivated his garden.

The signs tell Dugout's story in a short but compelling manner and are a fine beginning to continuing efforts to memorialize The Life & Times of Mr. Zimmerman. The public is invited to the Friday event. However, RSVPs are needed due to the limited access and parking.

The Dedication will feature short remarks by BLM Salmon Field Office Director Linda Price, Lemhi County Historical Society Director Hope Benedict and Salmon Riverfest organizer, Russ Chinske. John Parsons will Emcee the event and also be on hand afterwards to videotape any stories attendees wish to tell about their memories of Dugout Dick.

If you wish to attend the event, please send an email to Roger Plothow indicating your interest:
There is an extensive "back story" regarding events and the process that lead to Friday's dedication. The "back story" is far too complex to summarize here.

We will leave it to motivated readers to delve into the "back story" on their own with these two links.

The first is an article on Dugout Dick we did back in May 2012. It describes what kicked off this chain of events.

The second link is Roger Plothow's website on Dugout Dick. By understanding the initial circumstances (via the link above) and then digging deep into Roger's website linked below, astute readers will be able to grasp the flow of circumstances which played a role in bringing Friday's dedication to fruition.