Idaho steelhead season is on the agenda of an unexpected Fish and Game Commission teleconference set for tonight, just hours before a fishing closure is otherwise set to go into effect.
What does that mean?
“Whatever you want to read into it” is the official word from IDFG spokesman Roger Phillips in Boise.
However, outdoor reporter Eric Barker at the Lewiston Tribune who has been doing an excellent job covering the situation reports that state officials, environmental groups that threatened the state with a federal lawsuit if it didn’t close the season, and the newly formed Idaho River Community Alliance of anglers and others were discussing the situation yesterday “in an effort to reach a settlement.”
The agenda for the 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time, 6:30 p.m. Pacific time meeting is stamped with the words “Action Item” in red which suggests that the seven-member commission will be voting on something.
In mid-November, the commission was forced to suspend the fishery starting Dec. 8 because of the state’s lack of a NMFS permit to hold steelhead season. IDFG long ago applied for a new one, but as the feds worked on other priorities it left Idaho vulnerable to a lawsuit, which Wild Fish Conservancy and five other groups took advantage of.
One, Idaho Rivers United, has subsequently backed out of the group, saying its goal of getting NMFS to start working on the fisheries permit had been accomplished. The comment period on that has now been extended from yesterday to Dec. 13.
Whatever decision the commission makes this evening, Phillips says he plans to send out a press release right after that occurs.
Meanwhile, IRCA this morning reported on its Facebook page that anglers and boats have already begun showing in Riggins for a planned Saturday protest.