Fishing for Spring Chinook on Clearwater Ends Soon.

Hi all, this will be my last weekly update for spring/summer Chinook.  Last week we documented harvest of Chinook at only one location –the North Fork Clearwater River (35 fish caught).  Catch rates were quite good (5 hrs/fish), but reports are the fish are starting to turn.  For you diehards out there, some have indicate they still are very good smoked. 

We've finally have gotten to the point where it’s time to shut down all Chinook salmon fishing in the Clearwater Region.  At the end of fishing hours on August 5, 2012, the Chinook salmon season will end in the Clearwater Region.  This includes the Clearwater River drainage, the Snake River (Hells Canyon Reach), the lower Salmon River (Park Hole area), and the Little Salmon River.  That being said, you can start harvesting steelhead in the lower Clearwater (downstream of Memorial Bridge) starting Aug 1, and the fall Chinook season will start September 1.  It never ends does it?   What a nice place we live in!

For those of you who like to fish for fall Chinook, details for the season are as follows:

  • The season start September 1 and will continue until further notice or October 31, whichever comes first.
  • The fishery will occur in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.
  • The Snake River fishery will open in four sections:
  • From the Washington-Idaho border to Bridge Street bridge.
  • From Bridge Street bridge to the Oregon-Washington border.
  • From the Oregon-Washington border to the mouth of Sheep Creek.
  • From the mouth of Sheep Creek to Hells Canyon Dam.
  • The Clearwater River will open from its mouth to the Memorial Bridge.
  • Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin Chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam (some of these exceed 40 lbs).  It’s possible one of these could exceed the current Idaho state record (54 lbs).
  • Anglers may keep only fish with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar. All salmon with an intact adipose fin must be released.
  • The daily limit is six adult fall Chinook, and the possession limit is 18. There is no season limit on adult fall Chinook. There are no daily or possession limits on jacks and anglers are not required to mark jacks on their salmon permit.
  • Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. When the daily, possession limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing for salmon, including catch and-release.
  • Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon. A salmon permit used during the spring or summer season is still valid for the fall season.

I’ll try and get you some updates about steelhead and fall Chinook as we get more details about the run size and catch rates.

On a different note.  For those of you who like catching Kokanee, the fishing at Dworshak has been fantastic.   Some have claimed the fishing is as good as they have ever seen it.  Some are getting daily limits (25 fish) of 12-13 inches, that are fat healthy fish.  The best fishing seems to be upstream of Dent Bridge with many now fishing around Grandad Bridge.  We are trawling Dworshak Reservoir this week, so we will get you some updates shortly on what we find.

I’m know some rumors are starting to go around regarding meeting brood stock needs at Rapid River hatchery so, I thought I’d let you all know the facts. To date, we are holding just over 1,200 Chinook at Rapid River hatchery. Our goal is to collect around 2,200 fish. Typically, by this date we should have collected over 90% of our brood stock, and by the looks of it we will not reach or goal. Before you panic, we do have a backup plan and that is to collect extra brood from the Clearwater River basin (We have done this before). Right now, we are ahead of our brood stock collection goals for most of the hatcheries in the Clearwater Region, so we expect we will get enough extra fish to meet our deficit at Rapid River. Genetically, the Clearwater River fish are fairly similar to Rapid River fish as this stock was used to help restore this run in the past. So, that should not be an issue. We (IDFG and Tribe) will be going in detail over our creel programs to evaluate where we might have underestimated harvest of these fish (assuming that was the problem). Our goals is to continually learn how to better monitor this fishery so these types of issues occur less often.

Talk to you all later.  - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager