Clearwater and Lower Salmon Chinook Info June 3

Non-Tribal Harvest Share

These estimates are based on PIT tagged adult Chinook Salmon migrating over Lower Granite Dam.  We still have a few fish trickling over Lower Granite Dam so these harvest shares could increase a little, but for the most part what you see is what we’ll get.  Recently some anglers have been commenting that the numbers I post in the table below don’t come close to matching what is coming over Lower Granite Dam and were wondering why.  The main reasons are the table below only shows adult hatchery Chinook Salmon destined to the fisheries listed below.  The Lower Granite Dam counts include wild fish and fish destined to others places like the Grande Ronde, Imnaha, South Fork Salmon, and upper Salmon rivers.

Clearwater River Run

Fishing was exceptional in the Clearwater River drainage last week with catch rates less than 10 hrs/fish in many places and averaging 14 hrs/fish for the entire basin.  Based on conversations with our creel personnel, it looks like the fishing is only improving this week. The table below shows how many fish we estimated were harvested in each of the different river reaches we manage.  We plan to check our harvest numbers this Thursday (6/5/14) to evaluate if we need to make any closures.  If harvest continues to remain high, adult harvest closures could occur in river Section 2 (main Clearwater from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge) and Section 3 (North Fork) as soon as the end of fishing on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or possibly later.  We will let you all know what we learn this Thursday.  The other river reaches will remain open to adult harvest through the weekend and we will evaluate the data

Rapid River Run

As expected the fishing was slow in the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers this past week due to high dirty water (see table below).  Flows are supposed to pick back up to over 50,000 cfs through Thursday and then start dropping.  By Sunday flows are supposed to drop below 40,000 cfs.  What does this mean for anglers.  Likely this mean fishing will be better this weekend than last weekend, and if flows continue to drop the fishing should really turn on after that.  Talking to our creel personnel today, fishing is already picking up.  For those of you fishing around the mouth of the Little Salmon, please follow the directions on the access signs (around Salmon Rapids Lodge and to the Mill Hole).  The Landowner has graciously allowed us to access the river in this area, but wants anglers to go around the Hotel and take the path along the Salmon River to access the Mill Hole.  Continued access in these areas is dependent on our ability to respect this private property.

I know a lot of you wanted to know what we learned when we visited the “Slide” Rapid on the lower Salmon River.  Well, we boated up to this rapid yesterday (thanks to Don Vogel), and this is what we learned.   First of all, flows were around 48,000 cfs during this visit.  You could tell we were getting close to the rapid as the water had whitish appearance due to all the bubbles in the water. The attached JPG and WMV files shows a picture and video of this rapid.  So here is what we learned.  The rapid definitely delays fish migration.  During our investigation of this rapid we saw many fish trying to jump/swim up various areas of the rapid with little/limited success.  We also saw many fish swimming or pushed to the surface in the calmer water to the sides of or below the rapid.  On the south side of the river (see attached video), it appeared that some of the fish were able to make it past the rapid as we could see salmon resting in various pools located along the rapid as they struggled their way upriver.   My guess is passage will greatly improve as flows drop to 40,000 cfs based on the harvest data I mentioned in an earlier e-mail.  Another interesting thing we were able to do is track some radio tagged Chinook Salmon that were tagged at Lower Granite Dam and were destined for the upper Salmon River.  We found five of these tags during this trip and all were found in two locations.  Three were found near the mouth of the Grande Ronde River (Cleaner water) and two were found below the Slide Rapid.  This tells me that during these higher dirty flows fish will hold up in cleaner water, and as I indicated earlier the Slide does indeed delay fish migration.   More information is needed to tell exactly what flows the Slide causes significant delays at and how long it takes for fish to negotiate this obstacle.  This sounds like an interesting study we may want to pursue in the future.

Hells Canyon Dam

We estimated that anglers harvested 70 adult Chinook below Hells Canyon Dam last week, bringing the total harvest to 245 fish (our harvest share is 951 fish).  Catch rates were 22 hrs/fish.  We plan to only trap fish one day this week below the dam, so hopefully that will allow catch rates to improve.