Ask Zimo: Expect low flows in Snake River throughout the winter

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comDecember 19, 2013 

Q: Why are the flows in the Snake River so low, especially below C.J. Strike Dam?

C.H., Boise

A: I monitor flows of the Snake River from Hammett to Nyssa, Ore., daily so that I can plan hunting trips and noticed the same thing - low, low, low flows this winter.

In fact, I floated the Snake River on Sunday and it was way down. I haven't seen parts of the river this low. There are also mats of river weed that play havoc with jets and props.

I checked with Brad Bowlin, communication specialist with Idaho Power, who said there's just not that much water in the Snake River system.

Reservoirs throughout Southern Idaho ended up pretty low by the end of the summer season and there's not much coming downstream.

Flows at Milner are only 500 cfs. The Middle Snake isn't gaining much, even with flows in the Thousand Springs area.

"A combination of low flows from the Upper Snake and very low temperatures that are keeping any tributary inflows frozen are the reasons the water in the Snake is so low," Bowlin said.

In the Upper Snake River, only minimum flows necessary to maintain fish habitat are being released, he said. Only a few hundred cfs are being released from American Falls Reservoir.

The inflow into Brownlee Reservoir has dropped from around 10,500 cfs to 8,500 cfs when the cold front took hold earlier in the month.

Water management folks at Idaho Power don't expect river conditions to change much through the winter.

Watch the rocks out there when you're cruising the river to your favorite duck hunting spot.

One advantage of the water being this low - take notes on where rocks and other obstacles are located. I was surprised to see what the river bottom looked like near an island I usually drift.


Q: I noticed in the photo accompanying the story on winter tips for hunting dogs in last week's Idaho Outdoors that you were wearing mittens while hunting with a shotgun. How can you shoot with mittens on?

B.B., Boise

A: Good catch. Actually, the photo didn't show that they were glomitts - the mittens that you can flip off to fingerless gloves. They are available at sporting goods stores for about $20.

I've also got another set up in gloves for hunting. I took a pair of military surplus wool glove liners and cut the finger tips off so that I could better feel the safety and trigger on my shotgun while shooting.

Underneath the fingerless wool gloves, I put on a pair of very light polypro gloves. The combination works well and keeps your hands warm even if the gloves are wet.

I got the GI wool glove liners for $3.97 a pair and the polypro glove liners for $3.97 a pair at Boise Army-Navy in Garden City.


Hey Zimo!

We had the privilege of visiting the Baja last March. We were eight people in an RV bouncing across the lonely area wondering where we were and where we were going.

It was a treat even though we were unfamiliar with the route and our GPS also seemed a bit confused, but we did enjoy it.

The end of the trail at Swan Falls Dam was a treat.

As Nebraskans and Iowans, it is fun to see the sagebrush and experience a different landscape.

Enjoyed your article (Bouncing Along Big Baja Road, Idaho Outdoors, Nov. 7) sent to us by the brother-in-law in Boise who led the excursion, although he had not experienced it before.

The blind leading the blinder.

MERLYN HOLM, via email

© 2013 Idaho Statesman

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

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