Creel section 1 of the Snake River saw the highest amount of effort this past weekend/week for Steelhead & Chinook. Saturday morning saw at least 70 boats out in the confluence, but most fishermen’s comments were that it was still pretty slow out there. However, the catch rates were pretty good for steelhead at 14hrs/fish to catch and 23hrs/fish to keep. The Clearwater harvest section (mouth of the Clearwater to Memorial bridge) only documented a total of nine fish caught and catch rates were not the greatest. The Clearwater did not have any documented harvest of hatchery adult Chinook while section 1 of the Snake documented 58 harvested hatchery adult Chinook. Water temps are still pretty warm out there but the water clarity is clear. - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Fish Technician
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
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 than 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.
STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS (Unexpanded Estimates*)
For Weekend of: 9/8/2012
NO. ANGLERS NO. OF NO. OF FISH
CHECKED NO. FISH KEPT RELEASED TOTAL WATER
SECTION RIVER LOCATION HOURS FISH TEMP (°F)
01 Snake R. –
Downstream from Salmon R. 64 268 4 7 11 68
02 Clearwater River –
Mouth to Memorial Bridge 17 71 1 0 1 52
03A Clearwater River –
Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge ** 15 76 0 0 0 54
* The values shown are unexpanded sample data and estimates of fishing effort and success.
** Before October 15, steelhead fishing upstream of Memorial Bridge of U.S. Highway 12 at Lewiston is catch-and-release only.
*** CLR = clear; CDY = cloudy; MDY = muddy.
The good news is that water temperatures are finally starting to cool down in the Snake River and higher numbers of steelhead are now starting to pass over Ice Harbor Dam (first dam on the Snake River). You should expect those fish to start entering Idaho in about a week, so get ready if you like to fish the lower Clearwater or Snake Rivers.
Now for the bad news. Based on the number of steelhead we are seeing come over Bonneville Dam, it appears that the A-run steelhead (generally one-ocean fish that come in earlier) will come in lower than expected. We are projecting that about 68,000 hatchery A-run fish will enter Idaho. If you are wondering whether this is good or not, I can tell you that we have not seen this low of return since 1999. Right now it is too early to project the B-run (generally two-ocean fish that come in later), but it doesn’t look good for them as well. Early models are projecting that about 12,000 hatchery “B” fish will enter Idaho, but this could change considerably as it is still early. If this comes true, it will also be the lowest B-run we have seen since 1999. We aren’t sure why these runs are coming in so low as it seemed that river conditions were good during their out migration and ocean conditions when they entered salt water didn’t seem to be poor. I obviously have much more to learn about steelhead survival. I hope that this forecast won’t discourage you from fishing as often what you will see in these types of situations is lower fishing pressure which often results in higher catch rates. In fact, I can recall one of my most memorable steelhead fishing days occurred in the 1990’s when steelhead numbers were down.
On a good note, it appears the Fall Chinook are coming in as projected (over 18,000 to lower Granite Dam) which is good. So, if you are having trouble catching steelhead, give Fall Chinook a try. Most of these fish will be less than 15 pounds, but every year we see several come over Lower Granite dam that exceed 45 pounds. Those people who seem to be successful are fishing deep (using a downrigger or heavier weight) with a flasher and a super bait or plug cut herring. Good numbers of Fall Chinook should start hitting Idaho in about a week as well.
Have a great Fall, and I will talk to you later. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager
Hi all, this will be my last weekly update for spring/summer Chinook. Last week we documented harvest of Chinook at only one location –the North Fork Clearwater River (35 fish caught). Catch rates were quite good (5 hrs/fish), but reports are the fish are starting to turn. For you diehards out there, some have indicate they still are very good smoked.
We've finally have gotten to the point where it’s time to shut down all Chinook salmon fishing in the Clearwater Region. At the end of fishing hours on August 5, 2012, the Chinook salmon season will end in the Clearwater Region. This includes the Clearwater River drainage, the Snake River (Hells Canyon Reach), the lower Salmon River (Park Hole area), and the Little Salmon River. That being said, you can start harvesting steelhead in the lower Clearwater (downstream of Memorial Bridge) starting Aug 1, and the fall Chinook season will start September 1. It never ends does it? What a nice place we live in!
For those of you who like to fish for fall Chinook, details for the season are as follows:
- The season start September 1 and will continue until further notice or October 31, whichever comes first.
- The fishery will occur in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.
- The Snake River fishery will open in four sections:
- From the Washington-Idaho border to Bridge Street bridge.
- From Bridge Street bridge to the Oregon-Washington border.
- From the Oregon-Washington border to the mouth of Sheep Creek.
- From the mouth of Sheep Creek to Hells Canyon Dam.
- The Clearwater River will open from its mouth to the Memorial Bridge.
- Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin Chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam (some of these exceed 40 lbs). It’s possible one of these could exceed the current Idaho state record (54 lbs).
- Anglers may keep only fish with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar. All salmon with an intact adipose fin must be released.
- The daily limit is six adult fall Chinook, and the possession limit is 18. There is no season limit on adult fall Chinook. There are no daily or possession limits on jacks and anglers are not required to mark jacks on their salmon permit.
- Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. When the daily, possession limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing for salmon, including catch and-release.
- Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon. A salmon permit used during the spring or summer season is still valid for the fall season.
I’ll try and get you some updates about steelhead and fall Chinook as we get more details about the run size and catch rates.
Hi all. In the Clearwater River drainage fish are still being caught in the North Fork Clearwater River (we estimated that 87 adults were caught) and the catch rates were extremely good (4 hrs/fish). We also observed some Chinook being caught on the Lochsa River with catch rates at 40 hrs/fish. Other than those locations, we didn’t document any harvest. It looks like Chinook fishing has all but ended on its own in the Riggins area and at Hells Canyon Dam. Very few people were observed fishing for salmon and we did not document a single fish being caught.
Some have asked whether I would be providing updates on any of the other fisheries in the Clearwater Region – especially the steelhead fishery. Well, my goal is to provide periodic updates on our other fisheries as well, although not on a weekly basis.
Have a good week. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager
Many of you have stopped fishing for Chinook in the Clearwater Region, but I know some of you still are so I am going to keep providing these updates until we shut down the season.
Most of the effort and catch we see right now in the Clearwater is near the release sites. Fishing in the North Fork continues to be good, and based on the fish I saw last week, it appears that many of them still have orange meat. Some are starting to turn though. What is interesting is that the catch rates we saw last week on the North Fork Clearwater (5 hrs/fish) was the best we have seen all year in any river section in the Clearwater River drainage. So if you still want to catch a Chinook, you have a good opportunity.
|Clearwater River Drainage|
|Chinook Salmon Kept||Angler Hours||Hours per fish kept||Unclipped salmon released|
|Railroad Bridge to Cherrylane Bridge||0||0||0||0||-||0|
|Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge||0||0||0||0||-||0|
|North Fork Clearwater River||73||6||79||665||8||30|
|Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge||0||0||0||9||-||0|
|Middle Fork Clearwater River||4||0||4||142||36||0|
|South Fork Clearwater River||3||0||3||435||145||3|
|Clearwater River drainage Week total||80||6||86||1422||17||33|
|Clearwater River drainage Season total||3371||204||3575||76294||21||1110|
Fishing in the Riggins area has really dropped off. Almost all the fish caught last week were in the Little Salmon with catch rates being about 20 hrs/fish.
Believe it or not, the fishing picked back up below Hells Canyon Dam as we estimated that 18 adult Chinook were harvested last week. The fishing pressure was light so we actually estimated the best catch rate of the season below the dam last week at 11 hr/fish.
Section 3 on the North Fork of the Clearwater had the best catch rates this week and the most fish harvested. Everywhere else in the Clearwater Region saw a lot less fish harvested. It seems like effort is starting to wind down. - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Region Fisheries
|Clearwater River Drainage||Chinook Salmon Kept||Angler Hours||Hours per fish kept||Unclipped salmon released|
|Railroad Bridge to Cherrylane Bridge||0||0||0||38||-||0|
|Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge||6||0||6||182||30||0|
|North Fork Clearwater River||94||7||101||1155||11||22|
|Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge||0||0||0||69||-||0|
|Middle Fork Clearwater River||16||0||16||348||22||0|
|South Fork Clearwater River||6||0||6||949||158||22|
|Clearwater River drainage Week total||122||7||129||3476||27||56|
|Clearwater River drainage Season total||3291||198||3489||74872||21||1077|