Brutal winter's impact still being felt in some Idaho towns

More water, fewer fish, less cash for river towns
Posted at 10:05 AM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 12:37:06-04

"Snowpocalypse 2017" may feel like a distant memory, but anglers and businesses that cater to them are still feeling the effects. 

The swollen rivers resulting from the melting snow made the migration from the Pacific Ocean to Idaho difficult for Chinook salmon. This year's salmon return is less than half of the 10-year average. 

During a normal spring, the streets of towns like Riggins are full of anglers who come from all over Idaho and neighboring states hoping to land a salmon.

According to river guide Lenard Hansen, salmon had a difficult time making it over the eight dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers because there was too much water at fish ladders. He says high turbulence in the Salmon River made it difficult for the fish that were able to make it to Idaho. 

A limited season was allowed on the Little Salmon River and a very early season gave anglers on the Clearwater a meager opportunity that yielded very few fish. For the first time in many years there will be no season on the South Fork Salmon River outside of Cascade or the Upper Salmon River in Lemhi and Custer Counties.

Hansen hopes whitewater enthusiasts who are flocking to Idaho's rivers will help make up for some of the 35 trips he lost this year when the main Salmon River was closed to outfitters.