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Spring Salmon Runneth

The time has come for both steelhead and chinook

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Many of us have reached our emotional and physical saturation points for the abundance of rain/snow/slush/hail/graupel/sleet the Treasure Valley has accumulated this year.

We know that, logically, precipitation is a good thing. But that's a tough pill to swallow when looking out at another rain-soaked weekend. However, there are a few bright points on the horizon that aren't hurting because of the rain, namely spring steelhead and chinook seasons.

While the spring steelhead season has closed on several waterways, it is open through Saturday, April 30, in most areas, and until May 15 on the Little Salmon River.

Waterways open through April include the Snake River from the confluence of the Clearwater River to Hells Canyon Dam; the Clearwater's main branch; the Middle Fork of the Salmon from its mouth to Clear Creek; the North Fork of the Clearwater to Dworshak Dam; the South Fork of the Clearwater from the mouth to the American and Red rivers confluence; and the Salmon River from its mouth to just downstream from the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir near Stanley (with the exception of Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek).

Anglers can take three fish per day and have nine in possession with a limit of 20 for the season. Barbless hooks are required, and anglers can keep only hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fine. A 2011 fishing license and a steelhead permit are both required.

If steelhead aren't your salmon du jour, the spring chinook season will begin on Saturday, April 23. The first waterways to open will be the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon and part of the Lower Salmon rivers. The section of the Lower Salmon between Short's Creek and Vinegar Creek will not open until June 18.

Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife managers are predicting that roughly 20,500 chinook will return to the state hatcheries this year. Limits on fish caught in the Clearwater drainage are three per day with only one adult (24 inches or longer) and a possession limit of nine. In the Snake, Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, the daily limit is four fish with no more than two adults and a possession limit of 12. The annual limit is 20 adult chinook.

Specifics on stretches of river open for fishing are available in the season brochure put out by Fish and Game. Closing dates will be announced later.

For more information, visit fishandgame.idaho.gov/fish.

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