RITE OF SUMMER
June in Idaho means jammed traffic, parking, camping and fishing along the Little Salmon River on U.S. 95 at Riggins. Anglers stand shoulder to shoulder in hopes of catching a prized chinook salmon fresh from the Pacific Ocean, against a brilliant backdrop of green hills with blue and yellow wildflowers beyond the riverbanks.
CAN ANGLERS KEEP SALMON?
Wild chinook are threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but hatchery fish can be kept and enough hatchery chinook are coming back to Idaho to allow fishing seasons. One of the key hatcheries is the Rapid River Hatchery, on a tributary of the Little Salmon not far from Riggins.
WHERES THE FISHING?
A blocklong section of the Little Salmon at its confluence with Rapid River is one of the most popular fishing spots in Idaho where the elbow-to-elbow scene is commonly called combat fishing. At that point, salmon hit a bottleneck in the Little Salmon and have to turn up Rapid River.
Anglers also are having luck in the Main Salmon north and east of Riggins. Trolling from boats offers way more breathing room and relaxation than combat fishing.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
We went out with Exodus (outfitters) this weekend and had a very successful fishing trip, said Leonard Riccio of Middleton. He and his son caught two hatchery chinook and released one native.
It was well worth it. I would do it again, he said.
GOT ANY TIPS?
Jet and drift boaters anchored near the Salmon River shores are using roe, tuna and brightly colored yarn with huge Spin-N-Glo lures. Jet boaters anchored in the middle of the river are trolling flatfish with either sardines or herring attached to the underbelly of the lure.
SHOULD I GO?
The reason its crowded is that prime salmon fishing lasts only a few weeks. Dont expect to find a rock to stand on if you get there late.