Hi everybody, this is the Clearwater Region’s Chinook Salmon Update (6/24/14).
Because harvest shares haven’t changed from last week and many of the fisheries are ending, I’m going to jump right into what’s going on for each of the fisheries in the Clearwater Region.
Clearwater River Basin Fishery
First, I’d like to let everybody know that right now the only river reaches open to Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater River Basin are the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, and Lochsa rivers and only Jacks are allowed to be harvested in these river reaches. Because we have met our overall harvest share in the Clearwater River Basin we will be closing the remaining open river reaches to all Chinook Salmon fishing at the end of fishing hours on Sunday June 29, 2014. That means on Monday June 30, 2014 the entire Clearwater River basin will be closed to Chinook Salmon fishing.
All in all I think this was a fairly good Chinook Season. The fish did come in fast and furious and as the result many of the fisheries didn’t last long, but that is the nature of the beast for Chinook Salmon fisheries. Most of the river reaches we managed got at least two or three good weeks of fishing, and unfortunately that is all about you can expect when the run doesn’t get spread out when migrating up the Columbia and Snake rivers (likely due to the lower and clearer water conditions in the Columbia during their migration.) Most of the river reaches we manage we were able to get within a few percent of our harvest goals. We may have been off a little more on a couple of the river reaches, but in reality it is very difficult for us to get more accurate than this.
Many of you had comments about how we might be able to do a better job managing this fishery in the future, and I look forward to chatting more about these ideas during our public meetings this winter.
Rapid River Fishery
Last week was another good week of fishing on the Rapid River run although it wasn’t as good as the previous week. Catch rates were around 11 hours a fish in the Little Salmon River and about the same in Salmon River. Based on reports from our creel personnel, it looks like we are seeing similar catch rates in the Little Salmon River for the beginning of this week as well. Some have asked why we closed the entire lower Salmon River to fishing last week. The reason is to protect upstream migration hatchery and wild salmon. In fact, the Pahsimeroi run is so weak this year that if we didn’t make the closures we did, we could actually harvest enough of their fish to could close this fishery down before the fish really got there. Right now the only area open to Chinook fishing (for the Rapid River run) is the Little Salmon River. We will look at harvest numbers as well as the number of brood stock we are collecting and let you know tomorrow (Wednesday) if there are any closures for the Little Salmon in the immediate future.
Hells Canyon Fishery
The Hells Canyon Fishery did not receive much effort last week and the fishing was tough (32 hrs/fish). As result, we estimated that only 14 adults were harvested bringing our total harvest to 420 fish. Our harvest share is around 1,000 adult fish and as a result this fishery will likely remain open for quite some time.
I’m leaving for vacation this Friday and as such this will be the last weekly update I provide. Don Whitney (Harvest Monitoring Biologist) will keep you posted on the status Little Salmon Fishery.
So this is it from me until the Steelhead and Fall Chinook seasons begin. Have a great summer. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager