Salmon

Clearwater and Lower Salmon Chinook Info June 3

Non-Tribal Harvest Share

These estimates are based on PIT tagged adult Chinook Salmon migrating over Lower Granite Dam.  We still have a few fish trickling over Lower Granite Dam so these harvest shares could increase a little, but for the most part what you see is what we’ll get.  Recently some anglers have been commenting that the numbers I post in the table below don’t come close to matching what is coming over Lower Granite Dam and were wondering why.  The main reasons are the table below only shows adult hatchery Chinook Salmon destined to the fisheries listed below.  The Lower Granite Dam counts include wild fish and fish destined to others places like the Grande Ronde, Imnaha, South Fork Salmon, and upper Salmon rivers.

Clearwater River Run

Fishing was exceptional in the Clearwater River drainage last week with catch rates less than 10 hrs/fish in many places and averaging 14 hrs/fish for the entire basin.  Based on conversations with our creel personnel, it looks like the fishing is only improving this week. The table below shows how many fish we estimated were harvested in each of the different river reaches we manage.  We plan to check our harvest numbers this Thursday (6/5/14) to evaluate if we need to make any closures.  If harvest continues to remain high, adult harvest closures could occur in river Section 2 (main Clearwater from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge) and Section 3 (North Fork) as soon as the end of fishing on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or possibly later.  We will let you all know what we learn this Thursday.  The other river reaches will remain open to adult harvest through the weekend and we will evaluate the data

Rapid River Run

As expected the fishing was slow in the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers this past week due to high dirty water (see table below).  Flows are supposed to pick back up to over 50,000 cfs through Thursday and then start dropping.  By Sunday flows are supposed to drop below 40,000 cfs.  What does this mean for anglers.  Likely this mean fishing will be better this weekend than last weekend, and if flows continue to drop the fishing should really turn on after that.  Talking to our creel personnel today, fishing is already picking up.  For those of you fishing around the mouth of the Little Salmon, please follow the directions on the access signs (around Salmon Rapids Lodge and to the Mill Hole).  The Landowner has graciously allowed us to access the river in this area, but wants anglers to go around the Hotel and take the path along the Salmon River to access the Mill Hole.  Continued access in these areas is dependent on our ability to respect this private property.

I know a lot of you wanted to know what we learned when we visited the “Slide” Rapid on the lower Salmon River.  Well, we boated up to this rapid yesterday (thanks to Don Vogel), and this is what we learned.   First of all, flows were around 48,000 cfs during this visit.  You could tell we were getting close to the rapid as the water had whitish appearance due to all the bubbles in the water. The attached JPG and WMV files shows a picture and video of this rapid.  So here is what we learned.  The rapid definitely delays fish migration.  During our investigation of this rapid we saw many fish trying to jump/swim up various areas of the rapid with little/limited success.  We also saw many fish swimming or pushed to the surface in the calmer water to the sides of or below the rapid.  On the south side of the river (see attached video), it appeared that some of the fish were able to make it past the rapid as we could see salmon resting in various pools located along the rapid as they struggled their way upriver.   My guess is passage will greatly improve as flows drop to 40,000 cfs based on the harvest data I mentioned in an earlier e-mail.  Another interesting thing we were able to do is track some radio tagged Chinook Salmon that were tagged at Lower Granite Dam and were destined for the upper Salmon River.  We found five of these tags during this trip and all were found in two locations.  Three were found near the mouth of the Grande Ronde River (Cleaner water) and two were found below the Slide Rapid.  This tells me that during these higher dirty flows fish will hold up in cleaner water, and as I indicated earlier the Slide does indeed delay fish migration.   More information is needed to tell exactly what flows the Slide causes significant delays at and how long it takes for fish to negotiate this obstacle.  This sounds like an interesting study we may want to pursue in the future.

Hells Canyon Dam

We estimated that anglers harvested 70 adult Chinook below Hells Canyon Dam last week, bringing the total harvest to 245 fish (our harvest share is 951 fish).  Catch rates were 22 hrs/fish.  We plan to only trap fish one day this week below the dam, so hopefully that will allow catch rates to improve.

 

 

 

Wolverine Conservation Plan Live Chat

Your chance to weigh in or ask questions about Fish and Game's plan for wolverine conservation and protection is coming up.

Biologists will be available during a live web chat on Tuesday, June 3rd from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. MDT.

 

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released a draft Wolverine Conservation Plan for a 21-day public review and comment period through June 9th 2014. The web chat is designed to better inform anyone interested in wolverines, or the plan.

The wolverine is an icon of Idaho's high country and one of the Gem State's rarest mammals. About the size of a small bear cub, wolverines are members of the weasel family, which also includes mink, otter, and marten. In the southern extent of their North American range, wolverines occupy high-elevation alpine and subalpine habitats characterized by spring snow cover and cool summer temperatures.

The plan was developed to proactively lead state efforts to conserve and protect wolverine populations and the habitats they rely on to ensure their long-term viability in Idaho. The plan includes statewide wolverine status and distribution, factors affecting population and habitat, priority areas for conservation, and supporting actions to benefit wolverines in Idaho.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the plan or about wolverines in general can do so during the live chat on June 3rd from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. MDT, and 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PDT. The draft plan will be considered for adoption by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the July 10 meeting in Salmon.

 

 

 

 

Dare to go to Idaho [CNN top 10 list]

Secrets of Idaho's beauty are becoming more rare as the state cracked a world-wide list of lesser-known or emerging travel spots. Idaho was listed 4 of 10, and is included with places like Mongolia, Malawi, Bolivia, and even outer space. 

Get your fishing license early to beat the rush and enjoy our wonderful Idaho.

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/05/travel/cnn10-dare-to-go/?frame=4&...

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

 

 

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.

 

Fish Web Chat - May 22nd

On May 22nd from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm mountain time you can chat with Fish folks from the Department.  Find out where to go fishing over Memorial Day Weekend, what the outlook is for salmon and steelhead season, and what/where has been stocked recently by our fish hatchery staff.  Find out if fall chinook salmon in Deadwood Reservoir  will be as big in 2014 as they were last year (see picture) or the latest information on the resurgent kokanee population in Lake Pend Oreille.

 

On May 22nd, go to our webpage and click on the designated button to enter questions and watch for a response.

 

Chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam

The number of Chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam on the lower Columbia River took a jump this last week in April.  We know a number of these fish are destined for Idaho because they carry PIT tags, individual numbered radio tags, that were inplanted into the fish as juveniles on their downstream migration.  Travel to Idaho is dependent on flow conditions, but you can expect these fish to arrive in Idaho within 30 - 45 days.

Projected Chinook Returns - Lower Salmon River

The latest indicators, as of the last week in April 2014, show a projected return of Chinook salmon to Rapid River fish hatchery of somewhere between 11,000 and 17,000 adults.  Passive Induced Transponder (PIT) tags detectors at Bonneville Dam continue to show strong numbers of salmon passing through the ladder with embedded tags that were placed in the fish before they left Rapid River Hatchery on their migration to the ocean.

Fish currently passing over the dams should arrive in Idaho within the next 30 - 45 days, depending on flow conditions at the Columbia and Snake River dams.

Schedule your time-off and break-out your salmon fishing gear!

Upper Salmon River Weekend Summary 4/20/14

This weekend on the upper Salmon River the majority of anglers were once again found upstream of Basin Creek, in location code 19. Few anglers were found downstream in location codes 17 and 18. Interviewed anglers in location code 17 averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught and 32 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 18, interviewed anglers did not report catching any steelhead. Upstream of the East Fork, in location code 19, interviewed anglers averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught and 26 hours per steelhead kept. Click here for more details.

River conditions upstream of Basin Creek remained good over the weekend, but river conditions downstream were poor due to increased turbidity and rising water levels. Water temperatures continued to stay in the mid-40s.  - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician