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Trout Rescue Saves Thousands
Sunday, September 19, 2021



More than 17,000 trout are alive, thanks to members of the Hemingway Chapter of Trout Unlimited and others.

The volunteers showed up on less than 24 hours notice, along with Ryan Santo of the Wood River Land Trust and four Idaho Fish and Game employees to rescue the fish before they died in increasingly shallow water levels near Bellevue.

The rescue held on Friday involved simultaneous rescues occurring at different locations using various types of electro shocking, seine netting and dip netting fish into buckets.

“Normally, we have a very accurate account of the fish caught and transferred. But on this day the action was happening so fast that most numbers are considered a ‘fairly accurate’ estimate,” said Ed Northen, a Trout Unlimited member.

Volunteers estimate they transferred at least 17,532 fish to deepr waters.

Idaho Fish and Game officers estimate they electro shocked about 5,000  trout, returning them to two different locations on the Big Wood River.

Seine netting, limited due to the shallow water, netted 532 trout. And a rescue just below the dam at the 45 Diversion rescued at least 12,000 fish, based on an estimate of between 275 to 300 fish in each of 45 buckets.

Many of those fish were smaller, minnow sized fish with some buckets holding more than 400 minnows, Northen said.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, Idaho Fish and Game issued a salvage on the Big Wood River between the Diversion 45 and Glendale Diversion. Unfortunately, many fish could not be rescued, Northen said.

Irrigators from the Bellevue Triangle, Diversion 45 Water Manager John Wright, Wood River Land Trust and the Hemingway Chapter of Trout Unlimited have worked continuously this spring and summer to come up with solutions to keep fish in the river as long as possible in this unprecedented drought year, Northen said. Without these efforts many more fish would have died.

“In this low water year the canal company and John Wright have done a great deal to keep water in the river,” added John Finnell, another Trout Unlimited member. “Their help with our fish rescue program is indispensable.  They alert us to where and when we can rescue.  They allow us access.  They even meter their water to give us time to organize.  Trout Unlimited has a good working relationship with them.  Without this help we could not rescue fish.” 

Trout Unlimited representatives anticipate two more rescues later this fall once the diversion canals shut down. They anticipate a large number of fish to be rescued at those events.



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