Weekly Chinook Update 5/29/12

Hi all.  I hope you have all had a chance to get out to and try and catch some fish.  There certainly has been a lot of effort and a bunch of fish caught this past week.

My phone has been inundated with calls this morning and the rumors are running rampant.  So, hopefully I can clear some things up for you with this update.

First of all, the non tribal harvest shares for adult Chinook salmon are listed below (4,724 for the Clearwater and 5,095 for the Riggins area).  They haven’t changed much since last week, but survival appears to be higher for the migrating salmon between Bonneville and Lower Granite than expected. We may see our harvest share increase some in the future, but not more than a couple hundred fish.  Regardless, there are a lot of fish out there to catch. (click 'read more' for chart and more informaiton.)

Adult Chinook salmon run estimate based on PIT tags passing over Bonneville Dam
Release group Bonneville pre-season forecast Current number over Bonneville based on PIT tags Projected total run estimate to Bonneville based on late run timing Broodstock needs Estimated non-tribal harvest share above LGD
Dworshak 30,720 7,029 7,038 1,200 1,504
Kooskia (Dwrs) 3,680 2,984 3,195 800 625
Kooskia (Clwr) 2,539 1,583 1,576 NA 563
Selway 4,154 2,664 2,690 NA 868
Powell 6,146 1,568 1,589 694 222
SF Clearwater 10,287 4,272 4,315 1,014 942
Total Clearwater R. 57,525 20,099 20,403 3,708 4,724
Rapid River 35,425 16,825 16,872 2,000 4,760
Upper Little Salmon   981 984 NA 335
Total Riggins Area 35,425 17,807 17,856 2,000 5,095
Hells Canyon    3,378 3,387 400 952

Fishing was hot and heavy in the Clearwater River last week and made for a great Memorial Weekend for many anglers.  As of the end of Sunday we had harvested about 26.5% of our overall harvest share for the Clearwater River drainage.  Most of those fish were caught in Lewiston area (mainstem Clearwater from Cherryland Bridge upstream to Orofino Bridge.)  In fact, this is the most fish that I have seen caught in this river section in one week since I have been here (since 2008).  I fully expect the number of fish caught in this section to drop off this week as pressure has declined notably since Memorial Weekend and many of the fish have pushed on upstream. 

Because of this large harvested about 17% of the overall harvest share has now been taken in this section. Remember we are shooting for about 25% of the harvest to occur in this area which leaves another 380 adult Chinook salmon to harvested in this section.  We think this is enough fish to keep this section open through at least this weekend.  We will look at the numbers after the weekend to see where we are at, but it may not last much longer than that if harvest doesn’t drop down some.  This week I fully expect to see more harvest all the way upstream to the Kooskia area and maybe even in the South Fork Clearwater. 

One thing we have continually heard from anglers is that they would rather have lower limits so that they can have a longer season.   Before the season began we projected that our harvest share would be over 6,000 adult fish, and with that many fish we believed we could have a two-fish limit and the season would likely last until the beginning of July.  Well it is apparent that we will not reach the 6,000 adult fish harvest share amount, so we are discussing internally whether or not to drop the limit to one adult fish in certain sections to try and extend the season.  I’ll get back to you later this week to let you know what we have decided.  So, in summary, we have no plans at this point to close any river sections in the Clearwater River this week, but there may a limit change in the future.   - Joe Dupont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager