Weekly Clearwater Chinook Update 6/26/12

Hi everybody, it’s time for the weekly Chinook update (6/26/12).  Harvest shares for the Clearwater River, Riggins area and Hells Canyon are shown below and are not much different than last week. 

Harvest dropped off some in the Clearwater Region from last week, but there are still areas where the fishing is good.  Catch rates were below 10 hr/fish for both the North Fork Clearwater and Kooskia hatchery area.  One of our creel clerks told me how surprised she was with how light the fishing pressure was in the Kooskia area last week especially since the fishing was good.  In fact, in her break from work, she managed to go down to the rive and catch two Chinook.  Surprisingly, catch dropped substantially in the South Fork Clearwater last week even though our PIT tag array indicates around 3,000 hatchery fish have moved into this river with fish still trickling in.  We still have a lot of fish remaining on the non-tribal harvest share, so there will be NO closures or rule changes in the Clearwater River drainage this week.   Based on the way the fishery is progressing, it looks like the season could last through July in the Clearwater drainage.

Clearwater River Drainage Chinook Salmon Kept Angler Hours Hours per fish kept Unclipped salmon released
  Adults Jacks Total      
Railroad Bridge to Cherrylane Bridge 0 0 0 115 - 0
Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge 7 0 7 575 82 26
North Fork Clearwater River 150 2 152 1730 11 33
Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge 2 1 3 163 54 0
Middle Fork Clearwater River 82 7 89 852 10 18
South Fork Clearwater River 28 4 32 1468 46 27
Lochsa River 0 0 0 0 - 0
Clearwater River drainage Week Total 269 14 283 4903 17 104
Clearwater River drainage Season Total 3169 191 3360 71396 21 1021

Harvest dropped in the Riggins area last week after two weeks of good catch rates.  Surprisingly, the best catch rates were not in the Park Hole area or the Little Salmon River last week.  They were actually in the Salmon River downstream of Time Zone Bridge and upstream of Shorts Creek.   I think a combination of lower effort and the presence of upriver bound fish made the fishing good in these areas.  There certainly are many fish around the Riggins area, as they continue to flow into the hatchery.  Sometimes it seems that later in the run Chinook just don’t bite as much which can cause catch rates to decline.  Despite this, it seems that there are always groups of anglers that figure it out and catch lots of fish.  Maybe you are one of those anglers?  To date we have harvested about 83% of the Rapid River run which means we have over 700 adult fish still left to harvest (see table below).  Based on these numbers, there will be NO closures or rule changes proposed through Four of July for the lower Salmon or Little Salmon rivers.  Be sure to check in with us after the 4th to see if we have any changes in mind.

Lower Salmon River Chinook Salmon Kept     Angler Hours Hours per fish kept Unclipped salmon released
  Adults Jacks Total      
Rice Creek Bridge to Hammer Creek Boundary 44 5 49 910 19 57
Hammer Creek Boat Ramp to Time Zone Bridge 127 22 149 3175 21 141
Time Zone Bridge to Mouth of Short's Creek 109 6 115 3700 32 15
Short's Creek to Vinegar Creek 54 4 58 1242 21 17
Salmon River Week Total 334 37 371 9027 24 230
Salmon River Season Total 2233 227 2460 51559 21 540

People seem to have lost interest in the Hells Canyon fishery as we documented no harvest in this area last week.  That being said, I would have to guess that the fishing pressure will be light next week  and that there should be plenty of areas to fish if you plan on visiting.

Somebody mentioned to me today that this 4th of July will be one of the first times in a long time that every single area where we allow Chinook fishing will be open to the harvest of adult salmon.  Believe it or not, we have not closed one river section to the harvest of adult Chinook fish this year.  And now that Chinook are being caught in the upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers, this should make for a great weekend and Fourth of July.

Have fun out there everybody. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager