Clearwater

Nationwide, Fishing Continues to Gain New Followers

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) Releases Special Report on Fishing

Report Reveals Nationwide Increased Participation among Women Youth Hispanics

The lure of recreational fishing remains strong, according to the 2014 Special Report on Fishing, recently released by RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation. According to the report, there were 4.1 million newcomers to fishing in 2013, an increase from the 3.5 million average new anglers per year between 2007 and 2012. Additionally, women, children and Hispanics showed increases in participation.

"We're happy to see new, diverse and young audiences take up fishing at historic rates," said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. "These numbers reinforce our initiatives to engage and retain first-time and Hispanic anglers, and validate our overall efforts to increase fishing license and boat registration sales, which contribute to state fish and wildlife conservation efforts."

"Fishing and boating represent two critical outdoor activities that are key to keeping Americans involved in the outdoors,” said Christine Fanning, Executive Director of the Outdoor Foundation. “We’re thrilled to partner, once again, with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation on this important research project."

The sixth annual report details fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography.

TOP 10 REPORT LEARNINGS:

Women anglers – Almost 42% of first-time fishing participants are female
Number of outings for Hispanic participants – Hispanic fishing participants average 24.4 days on the water per year; almost five days more than the average for all fishing participants (19.7 days)
Youth – Fishing participation as a child has a powerful effect on future participation - 83.7% of adult anglers fished as a child
Influencers – Parents, siblings and friends continue to be the largest influencers to the introduction of fishing; specifically, parents introduce 81.8% of 6-12 year olds and 76.6% of 13-17 year olds
Social – Over 83% of fishing trips involve more than one person
Most popular – Freshwater fishing remains the most popular type of fishing (almost 38 million), with more than 3x the number of participants as saltwater fishing
Fly fishing – 14% percent of fly fishing participants were new to the sport
Spontaneous – Most fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of the trip (79%)
Reasons to fish – Catching fish and enjoying the sounds/smells of nature. Over 80% of participants report catching fish during their last fishing trip
License purchase – 27% of fishing participants (of license-buying age) are not buying fishing licenses, which means revenue used for conservation is being left on the table

Sure Sign That Fall is Close

Kokanee Salmon add Color to Idaho Streams

As autumn approaches many outdoor adventurers enjoy watching a natural transformation that changes the look of Idaho’s high country; while the autumn sky is filled with the colors of changing leaves, so are many small Idaho streams filled with the color of spawning kokanee salmon.

Kokanee are a land-locked version of the anadromous sockeye salmon which spend most of their adult lives in the ocean then return to places like the Stanley Basin to spawn.  The domesticated kokanee planted in Idaho reservoirs and lakes originated in Washington state in the 1930’s and 40’s.  They have been successfully introduced into many lakes and reservoirs around Idaho including:  Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Priest Lake, Dworshak Reservoir, Payette Lake, Warm Lake, Lucky Peak, Arrowrock Reservoir, Anderson Ranch Reservoir,  Deadwood Reservoir, Island Park Reservoir and Ririe Reservoir – just to name a few.

Kokanee can grow to 18 inches but the “typical” Idaho kokanee is 10 to 14 inches long. Many would argue they are the most flavorful freshwater fish found anywhere.

Kokanee spend much of their lives eating plankton and aquatic insects, following food sources in the water column. In spring and early summer they can be found in as little as five feet of water, but as temperatures warm in the summer, kokanee go as deep as 20 to 30 feet. Immature kokanee are silver to blue (hence the north Idaho name “blueback”) with a “football” shaped body. Like their salt water cousins the sockeye, their meat is pink to red and is highly prized for its rich flavor.

Kokanee reach maturity and spawn between the ages of 2 and 4 - depending on how fast they grow. When they prepare to spawn, their colors shift to a vibrant red with a green head. This transformation makes kokanee highly visible in streams and along shorelines – not only to people but to predatory birds.  In north Idaho, large groups of bald eagles congregate to prey on the spawning fish. This provides wildlife watchers multiple opportunities to observe nature in action.

Early spawning Kokanee are visible in Mores Creek, the Middle Fork Boise, South Fork Boise and Deadwood River as early as Labor Day Weekend.  Spawning in north Idaho generally starts a few weeks later, and peaks around Thanksgiving.

Clearwater Chinook Update 7/18/14

Hi everybody. This will be the last update I provide regarding fishing for spring Chinook Salmon in the Clearwater Region for you die hard, never say stop Chinook anglers.

Currently the remaining river reaches open to Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater Region include:

  • Little Salmon River from its mouth to Hwy 95 bridge near Pollock (adipose clipped jacks only).
  • Little Salmon River from Pollock 95 bridge to the Smokey Bolder Road (adipose clipped adults and jacks)
  • Snake River from Dug Bar to Hells Canyon Dam (adipose clipped adults and jacks)

All Chinook Salmon fishing will end on July 27 at the close of fishing hours in these waters.  After July 27 no Chinook Salmon fishing will be allowed in the Clearwater Region. 

As a heads up, the Fall Chinook Salmon season starts on September 1. It is supposed to be another great run, so it is never too early to start planning. Unfortunately we were not able to get a permit from NOAA fisheries that would allow us to harvest unclipped fish.  As a result the rules will remain the same as in past years where only adipose clipped fish may be harvested. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Beasts of Idaho's Mountain Lakes

August is prime mountain lake fishing season.  If you're fishing mountain lakes that contain many brook trout, don't be surprised to see an occasional lunker northern pike.  We have an on-going evaluation on the effectiveness of predatory sterile northern pike on reducing stunted/over-populated brook trout in Idaho's mountain lakes.  These fish are "eating" machines that will consume many times their weight in fish.

If you observe or catch a northern pike, please release it back into the lake so it can continue making fishing better.

 

Wolf & Elk Interactions

Attached are three Elk and Wolf interactions. In Wolf Story 1 a young bull elk is attacked by two wolves but escapes. He is back on site in two days. His very bleached out color is the identifying feature. In Wolf Story 2 a mature bull that has shed his antlers early bolts out of view several minuted before a Six Pack of wolves appear. The same bull returns 9 minutes after the pack departs. In Wolf Story 3 a herd bull and harem all return 4 minutes after a trio of wolves depart.

Clearwater Region's Chinook Update 6/24/14

Hi everybody, this is the Clearwater Region’s Chinook Salmon Update (6/24/14).

Because harvest shares haven’t changed from last week and many of the fisheries are ending, I’m going to jump right into what’s going on for each of the fisheries in the Clearwater Region.

Clearwater River Basin Fishery                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

First, I’d like to let everybody know that right now the only river reaches open to Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater River Basin are the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, and Lochsa rivers and only Jacks are allowed to be harvested in these river reaches.  Because we have met our overall harvest share in the Clearwater River Basin we will be closing the remaining open river reaches to all Chinook Salmon fishing at the end of fishing hours on Sunday June 29, 2014.  That means on Monday June 30, 2014 the entire Clearwater River basin will be closed to Chinook Salmon fishing. 

All in all I think this was a fairly good Chinook Season. The fish did come in fast and furious and as the result many of the fisheries didn’t last long, but that is the nature of the beast for Chinook Salmon fisheries. Most of the river reaches we managed got at least two or three good weeks of fishing, and unfortunately that is all about you can expect when the run doesn’t get spread out when migrating up the Columbia and Snake rivers (likely due to the lower and clearer water conditions in the Columbia during their migration.)  Most of the river reaches we manage we were able to get within a few percent of our harvest goals.  We may have been off a little more on a couple of the river reaches, but in reality it is very difficult for us to get more accurate than this. 

Many of you had comments about how we might be able to do a better job managing this fishery in the future, and I look forward to chatting more about these ideas during our public meetings this winter.

Rapid River Fishery

Last week was another good week of fishing on the Rapid River run although it wasn’t as good as the previous week.  Catch rates were around 11 hours a fish in the Little Salmon River and about the same in Salmon River.  Based on reports from our creel personnel, it looks like we are seeing similar catch rates in the Little Salmon River for the beginning of this week as well.  Some have asked why we closed the entire lower Salmon River to fishing last week.  The reason is to protect upstream migration hatchery and wild salmon.  In fact, the Pahsimeroi run is so weak this year that if we didn’t make the closures we did, we could actually harvest enough of their fish to could close this fishery down before the fish really got there.  Right now the only area open to Chinook fishing (for the Rapid River run) is the Little Salmon River.  We will look at harvest numbers as well as the number of brood stock we are collecting and let you know tomorrow (Wednesday) if there are any closures for the Little Salmon in the immediate future. 

Hells Canyon Fishery

The Hells Canyon Fishery did not receive much effort last week and the fishing was tough (32 hrs/fish).  As result, we estimated that only 14 adults were harvested bringing our total harvest to 420 fish.  Our harvest share is around 1,000 adult fish and as a result this fishery will likely remain open for quite some time. 

I’m leaving for vacation this Friday and as such this will be the last weekly update I provide.  Don Whitney (Harvest Monitoring Biologist) will keep you posted on the status Little Salmon Fishery.

So this is it from me until the Steelhead and Fall Chinook seasons begin.  Have a great summer. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Clearwater Region Chinook Salmon Update 6/17/14

There are a lot of rule changes occurring this week so I want to make sure you are all aware of these first.  So the rule changes are as follows:

Rule Changes in the Clearwater River drainage

In the Clearwater drainage at the close of fishing hours on Sunday June 22, 2014 all Chinook Salmon fishing for adults and Jacks will end downstream of confluence of the South Fork Clearwater and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers (adults harvest is already closed in this area).  This includes the entire mainstem Clearwater River, and the North Fork Clearwater River.  In addition, all harvest for adults will end at the close of fishing hours on Sunday June 22, 2014 in the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, and Lochsa rivers.  That means starting on Monday June 23, 2014 only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches)  with a daily limit of four (4) will be allowed in the Middle Fork, South Fork, and Lochsa rivers.  All other areas will be closed.  These closures are occurring because we anticipate our harvest share of adult fish will be met in the entire Clearwater River drainage and because reaches downstream of the confluence of the South Fork Clearwater and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers will have met their quota for Jacks.

Rule Changes on the Rapid River Run

On the Salmon River, fishing for all Chinook Salmon (adults and Jacks) will end at the close of fishing hours on Thursday June 19, 2014 between Rice Creek Bridge and Time Zone Bridge and between Shorts Creek and Vinegar Creek.  The Park Hole (the Salmon River between Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek) will remain open through the weekend and then close to all Chinook Salmon fishing (adults and Jacks) at the end of fishing hours on Sunday June 22, 2014.   The Little Salmon River will remain open to the harvest of both adult and Jack Chinook Salmon until further notice.  These closures are being made to protect hatchery and wild Chinook Salmon migrating to upstream fisheries and because we anticipate we will be close to reaching our adult harvest share for this entire fishery by the end of the weekend.

Rule Changes for the Hells Canyon Fishery

No rules changes will occur on this fishery through the weekend.  This fishery will continue until further notice.

Clearwater River Fishery Update

Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater River drainage was excellent last week with catch rates below 10 hrs/fish in most areas open to fishing.  Harvest totals are listed on the Fish and Game website.  We have 340 fish left in our adult harvest share.  For that reason, we anticipate that Chinook Salmon fishing in all reaches will not last much past this weekend.

Rapid River Fishery Update

Fishing on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers was excellent last week with catch rates less than 10 hrs/fish in the Park Hole area and Little Salmon River.  I myself got involved with this fishery last week and had a great time catching fish and visiting with all of you – I look forward to doing it again.   Due to the high effort and good catch rates, we estimated around 3,000 adult fish were harvested last week.  This high amount of harvest is the reason for these closures.  Be prepared for a quick closer on the Little Salmon River after the weekend if we are close to meeting our harvest share.

Hells Canyon Fishery Update

Fishing was also excellent below Hells Canyon Dam.  In fact it was the best we have seen all year there (catch rates of 7 hrs/fish).  A large reason for this is the low amount of effort that occurred there.  I suspect a lot of the people that often fish there were fishing the Little Salmon or Salmon rivers.   To date around 600 adult fish have been taken from the Hells Canyon Fishery.  Our harvest share is around 1,000 fish. 

Well it looks like we are in store for another good week of fishing before many river reaches start closing down.  I’m already hearing good reports out there, so be sure to take advantage of it while you can. 

Good luck and be safe. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Little Salmon River/Rapid River Trap - June 16

This past weekend was the busiest weekend yet for the little salmon. Lots of people showed up for free fishing day and our highest count of anglers for the day was 285. With the change in weather, fish catch started to slow down over the weekend. There were not as many anglers getting limits. Anglers reported getting lots of bites, but not being able to land fish. River levels have really gone down, and you can walk to the confluence without waders. But, there is not as many anglers fishing at the confluence anymore. I heard reports that the water temperature was around 43 degrees. Fish in the trap last night were around 192, with a total at the hatchery being around 1000 or so.