Ask Zimo: Dead fish in South Fork Boise may be young kokanee

August 22, 2013 

Q: I fished the South Fork of the Boise River earlier this month and noticed a large number of small silver fish dead on the banks of the upper section.

Are they kokanee that have gone through the dam? They did not look to be rainbows.


A: I contacted Idaho Fish and Game with your question and, based on the limited details, Joe Kozfkay, regional fisheries manager, speculated the same thing: That they were small kokanee that went through Anderson Ranch Dam.

Anderson Ranch Reservoir has - or had - a highly abundant kokanee population, he said.

In this low-water year, as the reservoir is being drawn down to relatively low levels to meet irrigation demands, it is likely that many young (a year and under) kokanee were swept through the dam.

"Idaho Fish and Game is actively attempting to reduce kokanee in Anderson Ranch Reservoir, so this loss of fish may be positive for the fishery overall. That is, as long as the pendulum doesn't swing too far," Kozfkay said.

Fish become stunted in size when there are too many of them in a reservoir, and there isn't enough food to go around.

He said that when irrigation flows are reduced in the South Fork of the Boise River below the dam, it is also common to see dead wild rainbow trout - a year old and younger - that become stranded inside pools and along gently sloped banks.

These fish are generally 1 to 2.5 inches long, but there may be a few larger ones.

When flows are reduced, fish become trapped after seeking deep-water areas that become disconnected from the main channel and eventually dry up or become inhospitable, Kozfkay said.


Q: My questions have to do with Forest Road 517. Sources say it is 18 miles to the overlook, and steep.

Will my passenger car (a Subaru) have any trouble on this dirt road?

Is a higher clearance vehicle preferred?

And lastly, do you know the current condition of the road?

JOHN, via email

A: The road from U.S. 95 to Windy Saddle Campground in the Seven Devils Mountains is in good condition.

Statesman outdoor editor Roger Phillips was up the road for a backpacking trip a few weeks ago.

A Subaru- or Ford Escape-type rig will have no problem negotiating the road, which is reached by turning off U.S. 95 just a little more than a mile south of Riggins.

The Seven Devils Road, as it is called, goes about 17 miles to the saddle and trail heads on the edge of the Seven Devils, a very impressive place overlooking Hells Canyon.

I've pulled a tent trailer up the road and had no problems.

The Forest Service doesn't recommend the road for trailers. However, I've seen horse trailers up that road.

I wouldn't take a full-sized RV camp trailer up there. It's steep in places, and there's not much room for two vehicles to pass each other.


Q: My wife and I rode the Greenbelt this morning in an effort to scout the Boise River from Willow Lane to Glenwood.

Since such a large portion is not readily visible, we were hoping you might have some recent experience or information regarding any new hazards this summer.


A: It's not a bad run. My wife and I canoed it a few years ago in low water.

There are a few tight spots and curves near the bridge that spans the river near the fairgrounds.

I haven't been down this summer, but checked around and haven't heard of any trees completely across the river.

The river is ever changing down there, and you always have to be on the lookout for overhanging branches and limbs. Sometimes the river is really narrow where the trees are leaning way out from the bank.

You just have to be on your toes and ready to eddy out quickly if you see a bad spot coming up.

Let's throw your question out to other floaters and see if we get any information.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

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