As part of an ongoing effort to reduce hybridization between the non-native rainbow trout and the native cutthroat trout in the South Fork of the Snake River, biologists from the Idaho Fish and Game will be manually removing rainbow and hybrid trout. Fish will be stunned with electro-shocking equipment and then transported to local ponds around the Upper Snake Region.
“Manual removal is necessary because we currently have unprecedented high abundance of rainbow trout and hybrids in the South Fork Snake River,” says Upper Snake Fisheries Manager Brett High. “Two successful spawning years in a row has resulted in a rainbow population that is double what it was just two years ago.” Harvest levels by anglers are typically not high enough on the South Fork to keep this large of a population in check. In addition to angler harvest, manual removals will be essential for bringing the population back down to numbers similar to the 2012 to 2017 time frame.
To bolster these efforts, Fish and Game biologists plan to continue the Angler Incentive program on the South Fork just as they have done for several years. “The manual removals will not affect the Angler Incentive Program,” High says. “We have continued to mark additional rainbows and hybrids with money tags and will continue to pay anglers $50 to $1,000 for each of the fish heads turned in with these tags.” Prior to their transport from the South Fork to local fishing ponds, Fish and Game staff will first scan rainbows for the presence of tags. Any tagged fish will be returned to the river for anglers to catch and later turn in.
For more information on the Angler Incentive Program or fishing in the Upper Snake Region consult the 2019-2021 Fishing Seasons and Rules