So the other day, someone asked the question, why a 1 fish limit on the Clearwater.? Well someone from the department commented that , the reason for the 1 fish limit, is so that the folks who fish the South Fork of the Clearwater, will have the opportunity to catch a salmon , in there backyard.Really?? After a forecast of 80,000 fish returning to Idaho waters, the claim is no catchable numbers of Salmon will return to the South Fork Clearwater! This answer is not justified, and is another poke in the eye by the Department, to the all the people who spend $100.00 a year on license ,tags, hundreds of dollars of tackle and equipment, which a portion goes too funding the Department! fuel to get to the river, and the money that is spent in the local communities, ie Orofino, Lewiston etc.To many folks who have to drive 150 miles just to get too the river, it is becoming not worth the effort, and money, to fish for Salmon or Steelhead in the Clearwater Drainage!! Especially after the last years Steelhead season restrictions, flip/flop ! I am curious how as to how much income. all the communities along the river lose out on when F and G makes these decisions. Regardless this 1 adult salmon limit on the Clearwater is a double standard.The F and G commission just met on the 15th and decided there will be a Salmon season on the Upper Salmon river.Good news to many who live up there and fish that section of river.So heres the #1 discrepancy in the Departments decision making. Why isn"t the Department having the same consideration to the folks who live in Stanley, on the Upper Salmon,as you do for the folks living in Kooskia, on the South Fork Clearwater?? The Department made it a 2 Adult Salmon limit, from Dug Bar on the Snake River, and all the way up the Salmon River. How will catchable numbers return, to the upper river with a 2 Adult limit for all those river miles?? And by the way, we all know that a good portion of the locals who fish the South Fork Clearwater , have poor fishing etiquette. ie Snagging, Overharvest, etc. it's no secret. It's like the wild west up there. And enforcement is minimal, fact.
There are a couple of important points to address in your questions. A desired outcome of managing the salmon fisheries is for all areas open to fishing have successful and meaningful fisheries. The one-fish bag limit is one tool that can be used to achieve that. More importantly, the one-fish bag limit helps to prevent all of the fish that are available for harvest from being caught too quickly. In the Clearwater drainage this year there are an estimated 3500 to 3800 Chinook that are available for sport anglers. With a two-fish bag limit all of those fish could be caught very quickly and the entire drainage would need to be closed to fishing in short order. In public meetings held prior to setting the season, anglers were supportive of a one-fish bag limit if less than 6,000 fish could be harvested in the Clearwater and a two-fish bag limit if more than 6,000 could be harvested. Another tool used to managed the Clearwater Chinook fishery is the allocation of the harvest quota to different river sections. That management tool was also supported by most anglers. This year 45% of the harvest is allocated to fisheries downstream of Orofino. Only 15% of the total harvest is allocated to the South Fork Clearwater River.
Angler catch rates in the Salmon River Chinook fisheries are different from those in the Clearwater and those fisheries can be managed with a two-fish bag limit. Also, there are more fish available for harvest in the lower Salmon River Chinook fishery than in the Clearwater fishery. The lower Salmon River fishery is carefully managed to avoid impacts to salmon headed to the upper Salmon River and that fishery. The fisheries are managed so in each fishery anglers have a reasonable opportunity to participate in the fishery and harvest a fish. The fisheries are monitored closely to avoid having excessive fishing pressure or harvest affect anglers' opportunities in other fisheries. Hopefully that provides some clarity as why bag limits are different in different areas or fisheries.