Recent Articles: Salmon

Salmon River - Weekend Steelhead Creel (3/3/13)

This weekend on the upper Salmon River, the number of anglers increased, but compared to the week before, the fishing was not as good. The best catch rate was found in section 18 where anglers averaged 11 hours per steelhead. Section 19, with a catch rate of 12 hours per steelhead was the second best, while sections 15 and 16 were at 15 and 16 hours per steelhead caught, respectively. Fishing within sections 14 and 15 was hindered by muddy water conditions due to the Deadwater ice jam breaking apart.

As of yesterday (3rd) the ice jam had receded nearly to Deadwater and most likely it will break up entirely sometime within the next few days. Anglers should use caution when fishing on, or next to, the bank ice left behind by the ice jam. This weekend, an angler fishing off of a large piece of bank ice ended up in the river when the ice collapsed and catapulted him into water 8-10 feet deep. During the next couple of weeks many more of these large blocks of bank ice will collapse into the river as they melt, and anglers should keep that in the back of their minds when choosing a safe spot to fish from.   - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Idaho Fish and Game

SALMON RIVER - STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS   Weekend of 3/3/13            
SECTION RIVER LOCATION ANGLERS CHECKED NO. OF HOURS  FISH KEPT FISH RELEASED TOTAL FISH HRS/FISH CAUGHT  HRS/FISH KEPT WATER TEMP (°F) WATER CONDITIONS
14 Salmon R. - South Fork Salmon R. to Middle Fork Salmon R 29 199.5 3 1 4 50 67 32 MDY
15 Salmon R. - Middle Fork Salmon R. to North Fork Salmon R. 42 205 7 7 14 15 29 32 MDY
16 Salmon R. - North Fork Salmon R. to Lemhi R. 70 433 16 11 27 16 27 33 CDY
17 Salmon R. - Lemhi R. to Pahsimeroi R. 64 186.5 5 6 11 17 37 36 CDY
18 Salmon R. - Pahsimeroi R. to East Fork Salmon R. 22 74 3 4 7 11 25 36 CDY
19 Salmon R. - upstream from East Fork Salmon R. 8 35 2 1 3 12 18 36 CLR

Salmon River Steelhead Creel - Weekend of 2/24/13

Angler effort on the upper Salmon River this past weekend was fairly similar to the previous weekend, but the catch rates were much more inconsistent between the river section.

Section 16 had the best catch rate of the weekend at 5 hours per steelhead caught, and section 17 had the second best catch rate at 9 hours per steelhead caught. The rest of the river sections (14, 15, 18, and 19) had catch rates equal to, or above, 20 hours per steelhead caught. Fishing downstream of Deadwater was hindered by poor water visibility which most likely factored into the poor catch rates observed in sections 14 and 15. Very few anglers were found fishing upstream of Ellis in section 18, and no anglers were found in section 19 during the weekend.

Boat ramps between Salmon and Red Rock are now open, but ramps between Red Rock and Deadwater are still ice affected. In section 18, the boat ramps at Watts Bridge and Cottonwood campground are closed because of ice as well.  Also, as of Sunday (24th), the ice jam was approximately one mile upstream of North Fork, and it is receding. - Brent Beller, Idaho Fish & Game Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

SALMON RIVER - STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS   Week 2/24/13
SECTION RIVER LOCATION ANGLERS CHECKED NO. OF HOURS  FISH KEPT FISH RELEASED TOTAL FISH HRS/FISH CAUGHT  HRS/FISH KEPT WATER TEMP (°F) WATER CONDITIONS
14 Salmon R. - South Fork Salmon R. to Middle Fork Salmon R 10 66 1 2 3 22 66 32 MDY
15 Salmon R. - Middle Fork Salmon R. to North Fork Salmon R. 41 186.5 8 1 9 21 23 32 MDY
16 Salmon R. - North Fork Salmon R. to Lemhi R. 50 236 33 11 44 5 7 33 CLR
17 Salmon R. - Lemhi R. to Pahsimeroi R. 60 178 16 4 20 9 11 33 CLR
18 Salmon R. - Pahsimeroi R. to East Fork Salmon R. 10 20.5 0 1 1 20 -- 32 CDY

Steelhead and Chinook Salmon Update

Hi all, seeing I haven’t provided you an update recently,  I thought I would let you know how the steelhead season is progressing and what we have forecasted for the upcoming spring/summer Chinook salmon season.

Steelhead

If you are wondering how steelhead fishing in the Clearwater has been recently, it actually has been fairly good with catch rates averaging less than 10 hrs/fish during most weeks. Fishing in the North Fork has, on the other hand, has been unusually slow. It should start picking up as the Dworshak fish start moving upstream. We haven’t been monitoring the Snake or Salmon rivers recently, so I don’t have updates for you on those rivers.

Some rumors were being spread that, due to the lower run size for Dworshak Hatchery bound steelhead, IDFG would be reducing limits or shutting down the steelhead season to make sure brood needs will be met.  Well, let me assure you, this is a rumor and we have no intentions of changing the steelhead season.  We are monitoring the number of steelhead ascending Lower Granite Dam that are bound for Dworshak Hatchery as well as how many of these fish are being harvested.   This is what I can tell you.  At the end of December, we estimated that around 13,000 hatchery released steelhead bound for the Clearwater River basin have passed over Lower Granite Dam.  By the time the run is over this spring, we suspect around 15,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery fish will have passed over Lower Granite Dam.  To give you some perspective, runs of Clearwater River hatchery fish have ranged from 20,000 to 57,000 fish over the last 11 years.   

Of the hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater River this year, we are anticipating that around 5,400 of these are destined for Dworshak Hatchery (based on PIT tag readings).  The importance of knowing this is, these are the fish that are collected for brood stock that will be used to produce runs for future years.  To fill our hatcheries we need to collect at least 1,500 of these fish.  That means if 5,400 fish are destined for Dworshak Hatchery and we need to collect at least 1,500 for brood stock, then the rest (3,900) can be harvested through tribal and non-tribal fisheries.  The table in the blue box below shows these numbers as well as the number of non-tribal fish that have been harvested based on our creel surveys.  As you can see on this table, we estimate that 914 Dworshak Hatchery bound steelhead have been harvested by non-tribal anglers through December.  Based on discussions with tribal biologists, tribal harvest has been considerably less than that.  However, if we assume the tribal and non-tribal harvest has been identical and harvest rates continue at similar monthly averages, we will still have ample fish for brood needs (see hypothetical example below in orange box).  So, as you can see, there appears to be plenty of fish available for harvest and brood needs, even if tribal harvest  has matched the non-tribal harvest.  We will continue to monitor harvest and coordinate with the tribe, and if something very unexpected happens we will let you know. 

Chinook Forecast

As most of you are aware, every year around this time we estimate how many spring/summer Chinook salmon will be returning to Idaho based on the number of Jacks that returned last year.  The table below show these estimates.  Remember these are only estimates, and during some years we have been off considerably.  Based on these estimates, returns of adult spring/summer Chinook salmon will be lower than we have seen the last five years.  The next step is to present these return estimates to the public (all of you and others) and discuss the best way to structure a fishery.  We may have to be a little creative for some of these fisheries.  My thoughts, at this point, are we will have public meetings for the Clearwater and Rapid River fisheries in the beginning of March to discuss this with all of you.  Shortly after that, we would provide our recommendations to the commission for how we would like to structure our fisheries.  Due to consistent low turnouts at some of the past public meetings, I will likely only have them in Lewiston, Orofino, and Riggins this year.  One of the things we will do this years to supplement the input we get at the public meetings is also send out questionnaire to all of your through this e-mail list.  I’ll let all of you know when the dates and locations of the public meetings have been determined.

I'll be back in touch soon.  I hope your winter is going well. 

- Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Upper Salmon River Steelhead Weekend Summary (10/21/12)

Fishing this weekend on the upper Salmon River improved over the previous one. The best hours per fish caught were still found in section 14 and were at 15 hours per fish. Sections 15 and 16 both showed a decrease in the hours per fish caught and angler effort in both sections increased as well. Section 15 was at 22 hours per fish caught for the weekend, while section 16 was at 19 hours per fish. Section 17 again had minimal effort for the weekend, but interviews were obtained. No fish were observed caught in section 17 by creel personnel, but most likely some steelhead harvest has occurred upstream of Salmon. It is also worth noting that the Salmon river was cloudy most of the weekend due to ash runoff from the Halstead fire near Stanley. As of today (22nd), the river is looking much better. Any more rain may push additional ash into the river again, but hopefully it will not have as big of an effect on it as it did this weekend.  - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries Technician

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 10/21/2012    
River Location No. Anglers Checked No. of Hours No. of Fish Kept No. of Fish Released Total Fish Hours/Fish Water
caught kept Temp (F) Conditions
14   Salmon R. - South Fork Salmon R. to Middle Fork Salmon R 24 90 0 6 6 15 -- 44 CDY
15   Salmon R. - Middle Fork Salmon R. to North Fork Salmon R 166 475.5 8 14 22 22 59 44 CDY
16   Salmon R. - North Fork Salmon R. to Lemhi R. 76 412.5 14 8 22 19 29 43 CDY
17   Salmon R. - Lemhi R. to Pahsimeroi R. 7 19.5 0 0 0 -- -- 43 CDY

 

Visualizing Your Next Hunt

Trails and Campgrounds in the MapCenter

This year we have added two new features to the Huntplanner to enable you to better scout for your next hunt.  Google Earth (KMZ) files added for each hunt area let you better explore the terrain.  Photographs, campgrounds and trails information help you better understand the landscape and access.

Visit the Huntplanner!

1.) View Hunt Areas in Google Earth

When viewing a specific hunt or a list of hunts in the Map Index you'll see four options available for each hunt area:

  • Information Icon  Area Details
    Opens the information page for this hunt area complete with boundary definition, map, landownership, harvest statistics, landuse and a summary of access points and services.
  • Map Icon  Interactive Map Center
    Opens a live interactive map viewer with the hunt boundary identified in purple. You may add additional layers and zoom around the map.
  • PDF Icon  Printable PDF Map
    Download a high quality map (600 dpi whereas the Map Center is limited to the html standard 72dpi) of the hunt area in Adobe PDF format.
  • KMZ Icon  Download KMZ
    Download a KMZ-format spatial definition of this hunt area for viewing in Google Earth or importing into a GPS Unit. For GPS Units requiring GPX format see these instructions.

Here is one example from the Huntplanner Map Index:

  • Elk Hunt Area 32A-2 Huntplanner Hunt Summary Huntplanner MapCenter High-Quality Printable Adobe PDF Map Download Google Earth/GPS (KMZ File)

The last option, KMZ (Google Earth) is new.  When you click the KMZ icon, if you have Google Earth installed, Google Earth will open and zoom to the layer.  You can repeat this process to add additional hunts.  The KMZ format is read by many GPS units and converts to GPX for devices requiring this format.

 

2.) Photos, Campgrounds & Trails

To better plan your hunt, we've added a number of layers to the Huntplanner Map Center.  Add the photos layer to view landscape photographs overlaid at their geographic position.  View public and private campground locations.  Overlay motorized and non-motorized trails information courtesy of Idaho Parks and Rec's trails.idaho.gov.

Upper Salmon River Steelhead Report 10/07/12

Hello again, this is the first weekend update for the 2012 upper Salmon River fall steelhead fishery. These updates will be sent out each week from now until December 3rd and they summarize the creel data collected during the previous Saturday and Sunday.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game technicians began creel activities for the upper Salmon River steelhead fishery on October 4th. Since then, we have observed steelhead caught from Salmon downstream to Corn Cr. None of the river sections were very busy this weekend and many holes were left open. The majority of anglers were found in section 15 between the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Section 15 also had the best hours per fish caught at 13 hours. Section 16 was a ways behind at 37 hours. With more steelhead moving into the sections every day, though, we expect the catch rates to only improve as we move into mid-October. Along with better catch rates, more anglers are also expected. Section 17 received very limited effort this past weekend and no data was collected. We will begin regular creel activities in section 17 this week, and that data will be included in the weekend report next week.

Two other things that are worth getting the word out on are the river level and the condition of the river corridor downstream of North Fork. First, the water level of the Salmon River is quite low for this time of year. As of today, it is 78% of normal just downstream of Cove Cr. I would suggest using smaller weights than last year because the current in most holes is much weaker than a year ago when it was above average. The second issue I wanted to discuss was the Mustang Fire. While the vast majority of the north side of the river corridor in section 15 did burn this summer, it was primarily an understory burn on the slopes near the river. Very few trees were lost on those slopes and in some places it is already difficult to see where the fire burned through. It is my hope that anglers will not be deterred from fishing in section 15 because, in most places, it is just as scenic as ever. Hope everyone has a great week.  - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries Technician

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 10/07/2012    
River Location No. Anglers Checked No. of Hours No. of Fish Kept No. of Fish Released Total Fish Hours/Fish Water
caught kept Temp (F) Conditions
14   Salmon R. - South Fork Salmon R. to Middle Fork Salmon R 33 196.5 0 3 3 66 -- 46 CLR
15   Salmon R. - Middle Fork Salmon R. to North Fork Salmon R 61 165.5 8 5 13 13 21 44 CLR
16   Salmon R. - North Fork Salmon R. to Lemhi R. 27 110 0 3 3 37 -- 44 CLR

Are any hunting units being closed this year due to wildfires?

Fires burning in Idaho's backcountry have raised concerns about public safety and hunter access, and some roads and trails have been closed.  In order to view the impact of fires with hunt areas, IDFG has made fire activity and closures available in two mapping applications, the Idaho Huntplanner MapCenter and the IDFG Fire Map.  For your GPS Unit the fire closure layer and the hunt areas are available as KMZ downloads.

Idaho Fish and Game does not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit. Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins.

Hunters with controlled hunt tags may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded. Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request. Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2013 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2012. Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over.

Hunters and anglers, and anyone else heading into the backcountry, are advised to check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices before heading out.

Photo Credit: Group Torching on McGuire Complex by Shawn Pearson

 

Do fire closures leave you hunting for a spot to hunt?

This summer's fires continue to burn and as the hunting season gets underway there are still fifteen active fire area closures in Idaho.  This leaves substantial portions of our State... areas bigger some US States... closed to access.

In order to assist sportsmen, we are compiling the latest fire activity and closures from  InciWeb and making them available as real-time maps and downloads on our website.

 

Interactive Closure Maps Online

To view closures in real-time on-line we have added fire closures and fire activity to two applications:

We've recently added fly-out information to each closure with links to the full closure order on InciWeb (see screenshot).

New Fire Perimeter Layer in the Huntplanner Map Center

We've added an additional overlay of active fire perimeters to the Map Center.  This layer by the GeoMac Wildland Fire Support Team is from infared flight photography, and is not available for all the fires in Idaho.  These perimeters are finer detail than the MODIS satellite imagery updated every two hours.

 

In Your GPS and Offline

Download the closure layer as a Google Earth(KMZ) or Shapefile(SHP) for offline viewing.  If your GPS unit requires GPX, there's a conversion utility to transfer KMZ to GPX.

This layer was digitized by individual USFS Fire Incident Teams and Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System Team at IDFG. We will be updating this layer regularly through the hunting season.

 

Inciweb Idaho Fire Information and Closures

Full text descriptions of all fire closures in Idaho are available on Inciweb.

 

For more maps and information about Idaho's hunt boundaries visit the Idaho Huntplanner, Huntplanner Map Index and the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System Open Data Downloads.