This weekend on the upper Salmon River, the number of anglers increased, but compared to the week before, the fishing was not as good. The best catch rate was found in section 18 where anglers averaged 11 hours per steelhead. Section 19, with a catch rate of 12 hours per steelhead was the second best, while sections 15 and 16 were at 15 and 16 hours per steelhead caught, respectively. Fishing within sections 14 and 15 was hindered by muddy water conditions due to the Deadwater ice jam breaking apart.
As of yesterday (3rd) the ice jam had receded nearly to Deadwater and most likely it will break up entirely sometime within the next few days. Anglers should use caution when fishing on, or next to, the bank ice left behind by the ice jam. This weekend, an angler fishing off of a large piece of bank ice ended up in the river when the ice collapsed and catapulted him into water 8-10 feet deep. During the next couple of weeks many more of these large blocks of bank ice will collapse into the river as they melt, and anglers should keep that in the back of their minds when choosing a safe spot to fish from. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Idaho Fish and Game
Catch rates were decent this week on the Salmon River. - Seth Crevison. Fisheries Technician, Idaho Fish and Game
|STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS Weekend 3/2/2013|
|SECTION||RIVER LOCATION||ANGLERS CHECKED||NO. OF HOURS||FISH KEPT||FISH RELEASED||TOTAL FISH||HRS/FISH CAUGHT||HRS/FISH KEPT||WATER TEMP (°F)||WATER CONDITIONS|
|2||Snake R. - Salmon R. to Hells Canyon Dam||5||23||2||1||3||8||12||37||CLR|
|3||Clearwater River - mouth to Orofino Bridge||102||694||18||13||31||22||39||38||CLR|
|5||North Fork Clearwater R.||29||172||2||0||2||86||86||41||CLR|
|7||South Fork Clearwater R.||94||381||3||15||18||21||127||38||CLR|
|11||Salmon R. - Whitebird Cr. to Little Salmon R.||8||25||1||1||2||12||25||38||CLR|
|12||Salmon R. - Little Salmon R. to Vinegar Cr.||93||412||19||12||31||13||22||38||CLR|
|13||Salmon R. - Vinegar Cr. to South Fork Salmon R.||14||117||3||2||5||23||39||38||CLR|
|20||Little Salmon R.||12||12||0||0||0||--||--||34||CLR|
Hi all, seeing I haven’t provided you an update recently, I thought I would let you know how the steelhead season is progressing and what we have forecasted for the upcoming spring/summer Chinook salmon season.
If you are wondering how steelhead fishing in the Clearwater has been recently, it actually has been fairly good with catch rates averaging less than 10 hrs/fish during most weeks. Fishing in the North Fork has, on the other hand, has been unusually slow. It should start picking up as the Dworshak fish start moving upstream. We haven’t been monitoring the Snake or Salmon rivers recently, so I don’t have updates for you on those rivers.
Some rumors were being spread that, due to the lower run size for Dworshak Hatchery bound steelhead, IDFG would be reducing limits or shutting down the steelhead season to make sure brood needs will be met. Well, let me assure you, this is a rumor and we have no intentions of changing the steelhead season. We are monitoring the number of steelhead ascending Lower Granite Dam that are bound for Dworshak Hatchery as well as how many of these fish are being harvested. This is what I can tell you. At the end of December, we estimated that around 13,000 hatchery released steelhead bound for the Clearwater River basin have passed over Lower Granite Dam. By the time the run is over this spring, we suspect around 15,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery fish will have passed over Lower Granite Dam. To give you some perspective, runs of Clearwater River hatchery fish have ranged from 20,000 to 57,000 fish over the last 11 years.
This past weekend on the main stem of the Clearwater below Orofino bridge catch rates were great and to keep they were OK. We are starting to see more anglers out on the South Fork and they are catching a few fish. This past Friday a nice bright 36 in. steelhead was brought in by Lenore. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a picture. However, the angler did get a good laugh at my expense when I face planted it on the boat launch. - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Region
|STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 12/16/2012|
|River Location||No. Anglers Checked||No. of Hours||No. of Fish Kept||No. of Fish Released||Total Fish||Hours/Fish||Water|
|01 Snake River - Downstream from Salmon River||4||14||0||0||0||--||--||36||CLR|
|03 Clearwater River - Mouth to Memorial Bridge||69||393||16||26||42||9||25||34||CLR|
|04 Clearwater River - mouth to Orofino Bridge.||10||36||3||3||6||6||12||34||CLR|
|05 North Fork Clearwater R||16||92||0||0||0||--||--||34||CLR|
|07 South Fork Clearwater R.||14||37||1||2||3||12||37||CLR||CD|
|10 Salmon R. - downstream from Whitebird Cr.||4||12||4||1||5||2||3||36||CLR|
Hi everybody, I thought I’d let you know about some steelhead fishing opportunities that will be occurring in the Boise area. We will be stocking around 250 steelhead that were trapped at Hells Canyon Dam in the Boise River on Thursday, November 1 from Glenwood Bridge to Barber Park. I have been told the steelhead fishing can be quite good at times after these stocking efforts. Plans are to also stock a similar number of fish later in November. So, those of you in the Boise area who don’t like to travel, this might be a good fishing opportunity for you.
Seeing I’ve got your attention (well hopefully I do), I thought I’d also give you an update on the steelhead fishing in the Clearwater River. As I suspected, the fishing effort has been very low for the first two weeks after the general opener. In fact, I can’t remember seeing so few people fishing as I saw on the first two days of the season. As a result, there were fewer people competing over the fish that were in the river and catch rates have been good (about 10/hrs fish). With the recent rains, the river flows have shot up and turned the river dirty, but once flows settle back down I suspect a bunch more new fish will have moved into the system. So plan accordingly, the fishing could get quite good. Based on PIT tags, about 22,000 Clearwater bound hatchery steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam this year. So far, only about 11,000 of them have made it past Lower Granite. Let’s hope this increase in flows gets those fish moving. I’m betting on it.
Fishing in the Snake and Salmon has also been decent at around 10 hrs/fish, so there are plenty of opportunities out there.
Don’t forget, fall chinook season is over tomorrow, November 1.
Talk to you all later. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager
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