Magic Valley

A Chinook is a Chinook - Not

Those of us that live up-River of Riggins are sure hoping that IDFG will limit the lower Salmon River Chinook harvest, so as to allow a decent adult return to the upper River, especially the Pahsimeroi, and Sawtooth hatcheries. After all, is this not the "seed" that feeds the entire River....????  Darren

 

The Chinook salmon running back to Idaho don't leave the ocean to begin their return journey to spawning streams or hatcheries at the same time.  The earliest Chinook to cross Bonneville Dam are headed to the Clearwater River, Snake River, and Little Salmon River systems.  We know the timing because a small percentage of fish have PIT tags that are read in the fish ladder as they swim over the dam.  This allows us to estimate the population of returning salmon several weeks before the fish reach Idaho.  This is why we set the Chinook salmon season and bag limits for lower river fisheries in March.  A few weeks later, we see PIT tagged fish headed for the South Fork Salmon River pass Bonneville Dam.  Once we have a good idea of the population size, based on the PIT tag information, we set the season and bag limit at the May Commission meeting for the South Fork Salmon River.  The last fish to pass Bonneville Dam contain PIT tags that tell us that they are headed for the upper Salmon River and the Sawtooth and Pahsimeroi Fish hatcheries.  That's why the Upper Salmon River season and bag limit is set last.  Typically, by the time Upper Salmon Basin salmon pass Lower Granite Dam and enter Idaho, the lower Salmon River and Clearwater River seasons are closed.

The three different salmon groups all spawn around the same time (early August thru early September).  Because Chinook salmon can no longer utilize food once they leave the ocean, biologists believe this segregated timing of the fish leaving the ocean is a stratagy to optimize survival to spawning time.  So, the fish that swim the farthest are the last to leave the ocean (they build their strenth in the ocean for as long as they can before starting their "death-swim" to the Stanley Basin).  Chinook in the lower Salmon and Clearwater have an easier journey and expend less energy on the trip.  Consequently, they leave the ocean earlier and can live long in fresh water living on their fat reserves.

Most Chinook salmon return to the stream or hatchery where they "smolted" or began the journey from Idaho to the ocean. So, not all Chinook salmon that enter the Salmon River are headed to the Stanley Basin.  -  dparrish

 

 

Rapid River Hatchery Report - May 15th

The trap at Rapid River Hatchery (tributary to Little Salmon River) has trapped only 1 adult fish.  There have been rumors of Chinook being caught in the Little Salmon River but our creel clerks have been unable to verify any fish being caught in the Little Salmon River.

Best bet is to fish the lower Salmon River (Slate Creek area) and near the mouth of the Little Salmon River.

Owyhee Reservoir - Early May

Two of us went to Owyhee Reservoir last Thursday 5/8. Water is really low only ramps available for use were by the dam and the one at the end of the road. The really nice one in the middle was almost completely out of the water, decided not to try since no one else had tried to launch there either. The crappie fishing was fantastic picked a bay up the lake a couple of miles and sat on the fish all day. Never went more than a cast or two without a hit for 5 hours. The fish were all the same size 8-9 inches I'll bet we caught over 200. We don't keep any (don't like fish) but had great weather and can't wait to go back this Thursday.  Mike B.

Live Chat on Fishing in Idaho

Fishing enthusiasts are invited to join an online chat with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and ask questions, give feedback, and learn more about fishing in the Gem State.

Live Event!Anglers can chat live with fisheries and hatchery staff, along with enforcement officers, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm Thursday, May 22. We will answer questions about salmon fisheries, family fishing opportunities, fish stocking and other related topics during the live, two hour chat. 

If you have any questions about fishing in Idaho, this is your opportunity to get answers from the people who manage Idaho's rivers, lakes and streams; and the fish that swim in them.
 

Bookmark this page for the event, or sign-up for a reminder email below! 

 

 

The Salmon Are Coming!

Here is the projection as of May 5, 2014 of the number of Chinook salmon returning to Idaho streams based on PIT tags detected at Bonneville Dam.  A total of 21 Chinook were caught in the Lewiston area last weekend.