Why I Think Idaho Fish And Game Will Stock Steelhead In The Boise River In 2019

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Why I Think Idaho Fish And Game Will Stock Steelhead In The Boise River In 2019

Last year was bad for Idaho Steelhead, with lawsuits threatened and a period of time where all Steelhead fishing was closed... except for the Boise River. Despite the shortage, Fish and Game still put 200 fish into the river in town across 5 locations. It was almost like they were trying to make a point. This year is no better - in fact it might be worse. Steelhead are closed in the Clearwater and returns are still poor, though Fish and Game has a little bit of silver lining if you read about the extended 2020 season rules. At lot of people are curious, but we still haven't heard anything official about Steelhead coming to town again in 2019, but I think we're due for fish. Here's why:

  • The fish that get trucked to Boise come from the trap at Hell's Canyon and the numbers there are public. They've trapped about 750 as of the 20th of this month. I can't find the info on how many had returned there by this time last year, but...
  • Info about the Oxbow hatchery (where the Hell's Canyon trapped fish are held) is also public. They spawn a total of 600 fish in captivity there each year (total combined male and female) so they've already met their need for the year. They'll continue trapping well into the Spring.
  • Idaho Fish and Game wants to look successful (and genuinely be successful). They've had this streak of stocking fish in the Boise going for literally decades now uninterrupted. Given, some years have been much better (stocking over a thousand fish) but a streak is a streak and people and organizations naturally want to keep them going.
  • Fish and Game could use the money too. If even just a hundred extra suckers like me buy their Steelhead tag just to get after their Thanksgiving fillet, that's over a thousand bucks headed back into the Steelhead programs. Every buck matters when you're a government agency.
  • I think F&G can be romantics, I think they want to give people hope. As long as we keep getting a token number of fish every year, it gives people hope. And I'm ok with that.
  • If I remember correctly, we didn't hear officially about fish until the Friday or Saturday before Thanksgiving last year, so I'm expecting the announcement any day now.
  • Two years ago they let fish loose exactly a week before Thanksgiving, and then a few month Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Last year they just did Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and I think they'll do exactly the same thing this year. They like to have them in for the holiday weekend, and I think on years where they know it's only one batch they wait basically as long as they still can.

I just spent the evening tying up a handful of my favorite Steelhead flies. Haven't bought my tag yet, but I've got time carved out this weekend to get it. Make fun of me if you want, but I like the tradition, and I think they'll find a way to get it done this year.