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Heavy snowpack bodes well for summer angling and fish population

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-13 19:49:50-04

IDAHO — Thus far March has been one of the better months for precipitation in the Gem State.

Snowpack levels are above average in most regions and with a continued wet spring, Idaho could break its drought streak. Many basins and reservoirs have seen below-average levels but that could change if recent weather trends are ongoing.

One particular area this could impact is the state fish population, in a positive way. Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) hope to see more rain into March and April for its fish ecosystems.

“Fish need water. Water is important for natural production purposes. A lot of our midsized reservoirs, Magic Reservoir, Mormon Reservoir, Little Camas, have been fairly water limited the last handful of years. So we are optimistic that the conditions that we are seeing will persist through the spring,” said Mike Peterson, Regional Fisheries Manager.

One major effect more rain and snow can have is increased water going into the state's aquifers. This creates more spring water which all hatcheries in Idaho use to grow fish.

“Anytime that we get this kind of precipitation on the landscape, you get some of that water that soaks down into the aquifer, replenishes the spring, that provides more water for the hatcheries,” said Peterson.

Natural repopulation is something many reservoirs have been lacking due to low water levels. But increasing water levels could lead to more natural fish mating, producing more opportunities for anglers.

“When we have a full pool at Magic Reservoir, you get water up into the willows. That provides the needed spawning habitat for perch populations and for better bass spawning conditions,” said Peterson.