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
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
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.
We have also been busy talking to fishermen at the ramps this spring. While not everyone is coming in with fish this year, most anglers are. We are also seeing more limits of kokanee than empty coolers. In April, catch rates averaged 7.6 fish kept per fisherman and 2.8 fish per hour of kokanee fishing. In May, it picked up to 10.3 fish per person and 3.9 fish per hour. We don’t have many interviews so far for June, but right now catch rates are 12.3 fish per person and 3.5 fish per hour. These are great catch rates for Kokanee fishing. The Kokanee we’ve seen in the creel recently are around 10 inches long, but there are occasional fish over 13 inches long. Right now most people are fishing between Canyon Creek and Dent Bridge, but we have marked good densities of kokanee farther up the reservoir during our research work.
Not a kokanee fisherman? We also interviewed 38 bass anglers over the past month who spent 117 hours to catch 463 smallmouth bass and kept 45. This works out to a little over 12 bass caught per person and four fish per hour. Harvested bass have averaged about 13 inches, but a couple larger fish have been brought in, with the largest right at 20 inches. Recent surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 60’s with a thermocline at 10 to 15 feet. As the water has warmed and spawning has wrapped up, larger bass are moving into deeper water. Some bass anglers I spoke with over the weekend reported that smaller bass were plentiful, but larger bass were down 40 to 50 feet and tough to come by.
Summer is just getting started, but it won’t last forever, so take advantage of the nice days that come our way to get out and catch some fish. Good luck!
Fishing has been great this week, an average of 50 fish are surveyed each shift (~8 hours) in the beginning of the week, and today 80 fish were surveyed from 14:00 to 22:00. The trap at Rapid River has been getting between 150-300 salmon per day this week. Many anglers here for the weekend, around 200 counted today. I did notice parking along I-95 at the mouth of the Rapid River has been hectic, and drivers on the interstate aren't slowing down. I have seen numerous semi trucks and other vehicles fly by and passing on a double yellow when people are walking or trying to park on the side of the road (Just thought I would bring it to attention). Free Fishing Day this Saturday should turn out to be a great day with lots more salmon to be caught and many more anglers.
Dad had a pretty good day on Cascade Reservoir, too! Adam B.
Great Day At Cascade Reservoir With My Boys - Adam B.
I've heard recently of good smallmouth and rainbow/coho fishing. Catching perch has been spotty. - dparrish
Fished Riggins - On 6/10-6/11 caught 4 fish and kept 2. Combat fishing at its greatest. But so much fun. The fish are so beautiful and I never have seen fat on Idaho Chinook like there are right now. Best tasting salmon I have ever had. Thanks to all that have made this possible. We need to all appreciate what we have and do whatever is necessary to make this possible for generations to come. - Jeff
I was in Riggins 6/9 - 11. Observed many fishing being caught. As this gentleman stated, this is social fishing. Please be courteous and respect your fellow anglers. - dparrish