chinook fishing

Upper Salmon River Steelhead Report 10/07/12

Hello again, this is the first weekend update for the 2012 upper Salmon River fall steelhead fishery. These updates will be sent out each week from now until December 3rd and they summarize the creel data collected during the previous Saturday and Sunday.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game technicians began creel activities for the upper Salmon River steelhead fishery on October 4th. Since then, we have observed steelhead caught from Salmon downstream to Corn Cr. None of the river sections were very busy this weekend and many holes were left open. The majority of anglers were found in section 15 between the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Section 15 also had the best hours per fish caught at 13 hours. Section 16 was a ways behind at 37 hours. With more steelhead moving into the sections every day, though, we expect the catch rates to only improve as we move into mid-October. Along with better catch rates, more anglers are also expected. Section 17 received very limited effort this past weekend and no data was collected. We will begin regular creel activities in section 17 this week, and that data will be included in the weekend report next week.

Two other things that are worth getting the word out on are the river level and the condition of the river corridor downstream of North Fork. First, the water level of the Salmon River is quite low for this time of year. As of today, it is 78% of normal just downstream of Cove Cr. I would suggest using smaller weights than last year because the current in most holes is much weaker than a year ago when it was above average. The second issue I wanted to discuss was the Mustang Fire. While the vast majority of the north side of the river corridor in section 15 did burn this summer, it was primarily an understory burn on the slopes near the river. Very few trees were lost on those slopes and in some places it is already difficult to see where the fire burned through. It is my hope that anglers will not be deterred from fishing in section 15 because, in most places, it is just as scenic as ever. Hope everyone has a great week.  - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries Technician

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 10/07/2012    
River Location No. Anglers Checked No. of Hours No. of Fish Kept No. of Fish Released Total Fish Hours/Fish Water
caught kept Temp (F) Conditions
14   Salmon R. - South Fork Salmon R. to Middle Fork Salmon R 33 196.5 0 3 3 66 -- 46 CLR
15   Salmon R. - Middle Fork Salmon R. to North Fork Salmon R 61 165.5 8 5 13 13 21 44 CLR
16   Salmon R. - North Fork Salmon R. to Lemhi R. 27 110 0 3 3 37 -- 44 CLR

Fall Chinook Update on Clearwater and Snake Rivers 10/02/12

Section 3 of the Snake River (Couse Crk –Cache Crk) had great catch rates this week and the highest amount of adults and jacks harvested. The guides are hitting Heller Bar hard and bringing in a lot of jacks this past week. Almost every Chinook that our clerks have been able to get their hands on has beeped positive for coded wire. We also saw a left opercule punch on a jack up at Heller Bar. I have not yet received Section 5 data, but as soon as I do I will get it out to everyone. - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Fisheries Technician

Steelhead Creel Survey 9/23/12

Hours to catch were decent this week on the Snake River in Section 1 (Blue Bridge –ID/WA boundary). Anglers commented that fishing dropped off when Dworshak stopped letting water out. Section 3  (Couse Creek- Cache creek) documented harvest over this past weekend. Section 5 on the Snake has still not had any documented harvest. On the  Clearwater’s catch rates for Chinook this week are poor, but the steelhead catch rates were decent.  - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Fishery Technician

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 9/23/2012    
River Location No. Anglers Checked No. of Hours No. of Fish Kept No. of Fish Released Total Fish    Hours/Fish      Water
Caught Kept Temp (F) Conditions
01  Snake River -  Downstream from Salmon River 116 588 15 22 37 16 39 66 CLR
02  Snake River - Salmon River to Hells Canyon Dam  4 17 0 0 0 -- -- 68 CLR
03  Clearwater River - Mouth to Memorial Bridge 92 438 16 14 30 15 27 54 CLR
03A  Clearwater  - Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge 11 74 0 5 5 15 -- 54 CLR


Snake River Fall Chinook Update 9/24/12


Snake River Fall Chinook Sport Fishery Update for September 24, 2012      
Snake River       Total  Total    Breakdown of salmon released  
  # Salmon Kept Salmon  Salmon ad-clipped  non ad-clipped   
  Adults Jacks Total Released Caught adults jacks adults jacks  
Sec 1 29 24 53 139 192 0 8 101 30  
Sec 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  
Sec 3 10 11 21 20 41 0 0 15 5  
Sec 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  
Sec 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  
Total 39 35 74 159 233 0 8 116 35  
Snake R. Season Total 108 80 188 302 490 52 8 178 64  
    # Angler Hours Hours/Fish        
    Boat Bank Total caught kept        
Sec 1   4237 0 4237 22 80        
Sec 2   375 0 375 - -        
Sec 3   434 41 475 12 23        
Sec 4   0 0 0 - -        
Sec 5   0 0 0 - -        
Total   5046 41 5087 22 69        
Snake R. Season Total   16324 100 16424 34 87        
Section Descriptions:
Section 1:  ID/WA State line (rm 139.3) upstream to US Highway 12 Bridge (rm 139.5)
Section 2: US Highway 12 Bridge upstream to Couse Creek boat ramp (rm 157.6)
Section 3: Couse Creek boat ramp upstream to OR/WA border (rm 176)
Section 4: OR/WA border upstream to Sheep Creek (rm 229.5)
Section 5: Sheep Creek upstream to Hells Canyon Dam (rm 247)

Snake River Fall Chinook Creel Survey 9/18/12


Snake River Fall Chinook Sport Fishery Update
September 18, 2012
Expanded Effort and Catch estimates for interval 3 (September 10-September 16, 2012)
Snake River       Total Total Breakdown of salmon released
  # Salmon Kept Salmon Salmon ad-clipped non ad-clipped
  Adults Jacks Total Released Caught adults jacks adults jacks
Sec 1 58 36 94 76 170 36 0 22 18
Sec 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sec 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sec 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sec 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 58 36 94 76 170 36 0 22 18
Snake R. Season Total 69 45 114 143 257 52 0 62 29
    # Angler Hours Hours/Fish      
    Boat Bank Total caught kept      
Sec 1   5375 0 5375 32 57      
Sec 2   432 0 432 - -      
Sec 3   0 0 0 - -      
Sec 4   0 0 0 - -      
Sec 5   0 59 59 - -      
Total   5807 59 5866 35 62      
Snake R. Season Total   11278 59 11337 44 99      


Section Descriptions:
Section 1: ID/WA State line (rm 139.3) upstream to US Highway 12 Bridge (rm 139.5)
Section 2: US Highway 12 Bridge upstream to Couse Creek boat ramp (rm 157.6)
Section 3: Couse Creek boat ramp upstream to OR/WA border (rm 176)
Section 4: OR/WA border upstream to Sheep Creek (rm 229.5)
Section 5: Sheep Creek upstream to Hells Canyon Dam (rm 247)


Clearwater Creel Survey Update 9/15/12

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

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS  For Weekend of:  9/15/2012
                                                                           NO. ANGLERS        NO.        NO. OF          NO. OF  FISH      TOTAL
SECTION     RIVER LOCATION                             CHECKED         HOURS   FISH KEPT        RELEASED           FISH
  01            Snake R.
                    - downstream from Salmon R.                 83                   386             17                  10                   27
  02            Snake R.
                     - Salmon R. to Hells Canyon Dam           7                     34                0                    0                    0
  03            Clearwater River
                    - Mouth to Memorial Bridge                     59                  322              5                     4                    9
  03A         Clearwater River
                    - Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge **    39                  185               0                    19                  19
                                                                                                     HRS/FISH              WATER           WATER       
01             Snake R.                                                              CAUGHT     KEPT       TEMP (F)     CONDITIONS***
                                - downstream from Salmon R.                  14               23                 70                   CLR
02             Snake R.
                                 - Salmon R. to Hells Canyon Dam            --               --                   70                   CLR
03             Clearwater River
                                - Mouth to Memorial Bridge                      36              64                  54                   CLR
03A         Clearwater River
                                - Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge **     10               --                   54                   CLR

Clearwater Steelhead Weekend Creel Numbers 9/8/12

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.


Update on Fall Chinook and Steelhead Fishing 9/05/12

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

Fishing for Spring Chinook on Clearwater Ends Soon.

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.

On a different note.  For those of you who like catching Kokanee, the fishing at Dworshak has been fantastic.   Some have claimed the fishing is as good as they have ever seen it.  Some are getting daily limits (25 fish) of 12-13 inches, that are fat healthy fish.  The best fishing seems to be upstream of Dent Bridge with many now fishing around Grandad Bridge.  We are trawling Dworshak Reservoir this week, so we will get you some updates shortly on what we find.

I’m know some rumors are starting to go around regarding meeting brood stock needs at Rapid River hatchery so, I thought I’d let you all know the facts. To date, we are holding just over 1,200 Chinook at Rapid River hatchery. Our goal is to collect around 2,200 fish. Typically, by this date we should have collected over 90% of our brood stock, and by the looks of it we will not reach or goal. Before you panic, we do have a backup plan and that is to collect extra brood from the Clearwater River basin (We have done this before). Right now, we are ahead of our brood stock collection goals for most of the hatcheries in the Clearwater Region, so we expect we will get enough extra fish to meet our deficit at Rapid River. Genetically, the Clearwater River fish are fairly similar to Rapid River fish as this stock was used to help restore this run in the past. So, that should not be an issue. We (IDFG and Tribe) will be going in detail over our creel programs to evaluate where we might have underestimated harvest of these fish (assuming that was the problem). Our goals is to continually learn how to better monitor this fishery so these types of issues occur less often.

Talk to you all later.  - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager