IDFG news service
McCALL — Fisheries staffs from IDFG, Nez Perce Tribe and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes will capture adult chinook salmon from the South Fork Salmon River after a flash flood wiped out most of this year’s brood stock.
Severe thunderstorms producing heavy rain caused large amounts of sediment to flow into the South Fork Salmon River on August 6. The storms developed rapidly over the nearby mountains, choking the stream with sediment within minutes.
Fisheries managers say the sediment flowed into holding ponds at the South Fork Salmon trapping facility depriving the adult chinook brood stock of oxygen. The sediment also caused some mortality to wild chinook salmon swimming freely in the South Fork Salmon River.
Fish and Game and Nez Perce Tribe workers rushed tanker trucks to the trapping facility to save as many brood stock chinook as they could after receiving word of the sediment flow. They were able to save approximately 200 adult chinook, while an estimated 1,200 were lost.
“Broodstock losses will significantly impact the number of eggs for the IDFG McCall hatchery program, the Shoshone-Bannock egg box program, and the Nez Perce Tribe’s Johnson Creek program in 2014,” said Anadromous Fisheries Coordinator Sam Sharr.
In an effort to mitigate the impact of the losses on future runs, Fish and Game staff will join tribal staff to capture chinook from the South Fork downstream from Fish and Game’s trapping facility. The Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes have volunteered to contribute a portion of their harvest share to the McCall Hatchery brood stock program.
Managers will continue monitoring mortality of wild chinook salmon in the South Fork Salmon throughout the spawning season.
F&G is working with the tribe in hopes of minimizing the impact to hatchery and natural origin chinook salmon in the South Fork drainage.
“F&G, the Nez Perce Tribe and other cooperators in the basin are planning alternative brood stock collection options to make up for some of the losses incurred at the South Fork Salmon trapping facility,” Sharr said.
The South Fork the Salmon River provides a popular salmon fishing season. The fish typically arrive in the river in June and fishing season usually runs through the Fourth of July weekend.