Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission ended its spring Chinook salmon fishing on the Clearwater last week but kept open fishing for jacks or yearing males through the holiday weekend.
That brought a protest from the Nez Perce Tribe, which has a right to 50 percent of the harvest under the treaty rights it retained when it turned over millions of acres to the U.S. government. Tribal biologists worry that anglers fishing for the 2,000 jacks allowed will catch and release many potential spawners and that about 10 percent of them will die.
“Given the low runs size this year there is little margin of error in achieving broodstock,” said Silas Whitman, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribe.
The tribe wanted the state to take a conservative approach because it worries it will be short in its hatcheries. That mean fewer smolts to release in the future.
Harvest issues have been among the most sensitive over the years between Idaho and tribal fishing authorities. At times Idaho has complained tribal fishermen take too many steelhead incidently during fall Chinook season on the Columbia.
The tribe, whose hatcheries are now a major source of salmon for the Salmon and Clearwater fisheries, is making the same point here. These squabbles only happen in times of shortage, which means often.