Comment in Fish Talk: Had tons of fun catching Chinook out of Anderson Ranch this summer. Are the initial plant of 35,000 spawning this year or next?
J. Michael K.
I've got good news and bad news for you.
First the good news: This will probably be the first year that earlier plantings of fall Chinook will be maturing and attempting to spawn in the South Fork Boise River. Fall Chinook have been stocked many times in Anderson Ranch Reservoir and maturing adults have never successfully reproduced in the South Fork Boise River or Fall Creek. The fall Chinook population is totally supported through our hatchery stocking program. There are currently 3 year- classes of fall Chinook in Anderson Ranch.
Now, the bad news: Fall Chinook are stocked in Anderson Ranch and other reservoirs around the state as a fish management tool to reduce over-abundant kokanee numbers. They are a very efficient predators on kokanee. The bad news is - they may have been too efficient because we observed very few kokanee spawning in the South Fork Boise River, this fall. We probably won't stock fall Chinook in Anderson Ranch Reservoir in 2017. The reduced numbers of kokanee remaining in Anderson Ranch may effect survival and the condition of fall Chinook remaining in the reservoir. This will translate into fewer fall Chinook in the fishery, next year.
Did you ever stop to think about the journey fish make to keep their populations viable? Idaho's ocean-going salmon and steelhead journey 1,000's of miles, negotiate thousands of feet in elevation change and run a gauntlet of swimming, flying, fishing predators to return to Idaho - where they spawn and the cycle repeats. This is important not only for fish populations to survive, but it's also important on a broader scale because fish returning to Idaho headwater streams bring with them ocean nutrients which are important to Idaho ecosystems.
Even our local resident fish journey many miles and contribute to other wildlife and plant communities in ways we are only beginning to understand.