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The Sturgeon
As fish go, the Idaho white sturgeon is something of a mystery. According to Fred Partridge, a Senior Fisheries Research Biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, it is almost impossible to draw hard-and-fast conclusions about sturgeon. Though the fossil record dates back 100 million years to the Cretaceous period, sturgeon are docile, reclusive fish, choosing the Snake’s deepest holes and swiftest water as their homes.
Idaho sturgeon
"This prehistoric monster of the deep is fast becoming one of Idaho’s most popular game fish." -- Idaho fish ‘n’ hunt
Sturgeon are bottom-feeders, constantly rubbing against rocks and are therefore extremely resistant to tagging. Because they are difficult to keep track of, one study will claim sturgeon migrate, the next will insist they are territorial; one says they spawn in fast water, the next in deep eddies; one says they can live to be fifty years old, the next a century. No one disputes, however, that Idaho’s white sturgeon can grow to be stupendously big. A sepia photograph taken in 1898 shows a 1500-pound, 20-foot monster being dragged by a four-mule team onto a bank below Twin Falls.

Due to increasing pressure, concerns have surfaced about the number of sturgeon fishermen and their relative success. For that reason the Department of Fish and Game created a mandatory permit system in 1989. This permit records the length of each fish, where it was caught, and the number of hours spent fishing for each.

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    "Where to find Idaho's famed great White Strugeon"

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    History of the Snake River Plain
    The Bonneville Flood
    When the Teton Dam failed in 1976, it created a devastation torrent that killed several people and left millions of dollars of property damage. Yet, it was barely a trickle compared to the Bonneville Flood.

    About 14,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville covered much of Utah, Nevada, and parts of southern Idaho. It was really an inland sea, comparable to one of our modern Great Lakes.

    As the lake level rose, the water began to spill over Red Rock Pass near Preston, Idaho. The water eroded the pass until it cut through the hard rock and into a layer of softer soil. Once the softer material was exposed, the flow became a flood.

    The torrent crashed down the Portneuf River to where Pocatello is today, then sped downstream along the Snake. In the 300-square-mile Rupert Basin the water averaged 50 feet deep. It filled the entire Snake River Canyon where Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls are today and still spread out across the Snake River Plain.

    The flood ripped chunks from the walls of the canyon and carried boulders the size of cars along with it, rolling and polishing them as they tumbled. Giant gravel bars 100 feet high and a mile long are common in the canyon. There are hundreds of acres of melon-sized boulders left behind by the flood from Hagerman to Swan Falls.

    At its peak, the Bonneville Flood rushed down the Snake River at a rate five or six times the flow of the Amazon. About 600 cubic miles of water passed through Idaho on its way to the Pacific, all in a matter of weeks. The Bonneville Flood was the second largest in the geologic history of Earth.

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      The Snake River

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      Three Island Crossing
      Three Island Crossing was a well-known, often dreaded, landmark on the Oregon Trail. When emigrants, on foot, in wagons, and on horseback reached the Snake River across from the modern day town of Glenns Ferry, they had a choice to make. They could continue on a branch of the Oregon Trail through the desert south of the Snake, or they could cross the treacherous river for the greener grass and shorter route on the other side. Most chose to cross the river, using two of the three islands. Not everyone made it with all their possessions. Wagons and carts were frequently swamped or overturned. Many horses, mules, and oxen lost their lives to the current.

      Crossing the river could be a terror for settlers. Staying on the south side was not a certain joy, either. As one emigrant said, in his 1843 diary, "This is, perhaps, the most rugged, desert and dreary country, between the western borders of the United States and the shores of the Pacific. It is nothing else than a wild, rocky barren wilderness, of wrecked and ruined Nature, a vast field of volcanic desolation."

      In 1869, Gus P. Glenn put an end to the agonizing, by starting a ferry service near the infamous crossing. Glenns Ferry is named for that early Idahoan’s business.

      Today, the story of the Oregon Trail is told at Three Island Crossing State Park, just off the interstate at Glenns Ferry.

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