I was told that the reason you are not posting the Rapid River hatchery returns is because of the debaucle that happened last year. Last year the indians "blocked" the river in order to catch the salmon which skewed the hatchery return statistics and caused Fish and Game to panic and close the season early. Once it was closed the indians hurried and removed their block and suddenly 500 fish hit the traps all at once and Fish and Game was caught with their pants down. So Fish and Game tried to repair their error and reopen the season on a limited basis. Is this true? Are you not posting the returns in order to keep everyone in the dark and therefore keep the uproar down this year?
The reason we haven't been posting trap return numbers for Rapid River has to do with modernization of our website and conversion of website tools in our old format to a new format. Sounds simple, right? We presently have the numbers posted on our website and fisheries staff are manually updating the information, daily. We are simultanously working on a feature to allow Rapid River Hatchery staff to upload trap information and have it post directly to our website. As of June 5th 42 adults Chinook salmon had entered the Rapid River trap.
To my knowledge, no one in Fish and Game were "caught with their pants down" last year when it came to sportsmen and tribal harvest. We work closely with the Nez Perce tribal fishermen at Rapid River. Keep in mind, the courts have said, "the harvestable surplus is split 50:50." Their fishery could be curtailed if tribal members take disproportionately more fish than licensed anglers.
The reason the season was re-opened last year had to do with Fish and Game making an error in the number of Chinook we estimated had been caught by licensed anglers. Because we don't check each individual fish caught, we randomize our creel sample areas and times and then apply a mathematical formula to estimate harvest. Unfortunately, we realized after-the-fact that the harvest formula we initially used was incorrect. Once we realized a mistake was made, we tried to correct it by re-opening the season.
The next three weeks are the typical peak of the fish entering Rapid River. Watch our website for the latest information.