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Clearwater Steelhead Creel Numbers

Check graph to see creel numbers for steelhead fishing on Clearwater, Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers.

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS  
Week 2/3/13
               
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
3 Clearwater River - mouth to Orofino Bridge 49 236 5 5 9 26 47 34 CLR
4 Clearwater R. - upstream from Orofino Bridge 19 55 2 0 7 8 28 34 CLR
5 N.F  Clearwater R. 27 152 3 1 3 50 50 34 CLR
7 S.F. Clearwater R. 20 48 1 0 2 24 48 34 CLR
11 Salmon R. - Whitebird Cr. to Little Salmon R. 5 27 0 0 0 -- -- 32 CLR
12 Salmon R. - Little Salmon R. to Vinegar Cr. 2 4 0 0 0 -- -- 32 CLR
20 Little Salmon R. 15 41 0 0 0 -- -- 31 CLR

Steelhead and Chinook Salmon Update

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.

Steelhead

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.   

Of the hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater River this year, we are anticipating that around 5,400 of these are destined for Dworshak Hatchery (based on PIT tag readings).  The importance of knowing this is, these are the fish that are collected for brood stock that will be used to produce runs for future years.  To fill our hatcheries we need to collect at least 1,500 of these fish.  That means if 5,400 fish are destined for Dworshak Hatchery and we need to collect at least 1,500 for brood stock, then the rest (3,900) can be harvested through tribal and non-tribal fisheries.  The table in the blue box below shows these numbers as well as the number of non-tribal fish that have been harvested based on our creel surveys.  As you can see on this table, we estimate that 914 Dworshak Hatchery bound steelhead have been harvested by non-tribal anglers through December.  Based on discussions with tribal biologists, tribal harvest has been considerably less than that.  However, if we assume the tribal and non-tribal harvest has been identical and harvest rates continue at similar monthly averages, we will still have ample fish for brood needs (see hypothetical example below in orange box).  So, as you can see, there appears to be plenty of fish available for harvest and brood needs, even if tribal harvest  has matched the non-tribal harvest.  We will continue to monitor harvest and coordinate with the tribe, and if something very unexpected happens we will let you know. 

Chinook Forecast

As most of you are aware, every year around this time we estimate how many spring/summer Chinook salmon will be returning to Idaho based on the number of Jacks that returned last year.  The table below show these estimates.  Remember these are only estimates, and during some years we have been off considerably.  Based on these estimates, returns of adult spring/summer Chinook salmon will be lower than we have seen the last five years.  The next step is to present these return estimates to the public (all of you and others) and discuss the best way to structure a fishery.  We may have to be a little creative for some of these fisheries.  My thoughts, at this point, are we will have public meetings for the Clearwater and Rapid River fisheries in the beginning of March to discuss this with all of you.  Shortly after that, we would provide our recommendations to the commission for how we would like to structure our fisheries.  Due to consistent low turnouts at some of the past public meetings, I will likely only have them in Lewiston, Orofino, and Riggins this year.  One of the things we will do this years to supplement the input we get at the public meetings is also send out questionnaire to all of your through this e-mail list.  I’ll let all of you know when the dates and locations of the public meetings have been determined.

I'll be back in touch soon.  I hope your winter is going well. 

- Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Snapshot of Steelhead Fishing on the Clearwater and Snake 12/16/12

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
caught kept Temp (F) Conditions
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

Steelhead Fishing Opportunities 10/31/12

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

Clearwater & Salmon River Steelhead Update 10/22/12

River sections 01 and 03 had the best catch rates for steelhead this week at 13hrs/catch and 9hrs/catch. The North Fork of the Clearwater has documented harvest this week of 6 steelhead. The Salmon river catch rates were poor this past week.   - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Region Fisheries Technician

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 10/22/2012    
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 82 392 3 27 30 13 131 58 CLR
02   Snake R. - Salmon R. to Hells Canyon Dam 22 151 2 2 4 38 76 60 CLR
03  Clearwater River - Mouth to Memorial Bridge 58 208 13 9 22 9 16 51 CL
05   North Fork Clearwater R 25 126 6 0 6 21 21 50 CLR
10    Salmon R. - downstream from Whitebird Cr. 12 45 0 1 1 45 -- 50 CDY
11   Salmon R. - Whitebird Cr. to Little Salmon R 61 357 4 4 8 45 89 50 CDY
12   Salmon R. - Little Salmon R. to Vinegar Cr. 150 845 10 9 19 44 84 46 CDY
13   Salmon R. - Vinegar Cr. to South Fork Salmon R.. 25 305 1 2 3 102 305 48 CD
14   Salmon R. - - South Fork Salmon R. to Middle Fork Salmon R. 8 192 0 4 4 48 -- 46 CDY

Upper Salmon River Steelhead Weekend Summary (10/21/12)

Fishing this weekend on the upper Salmon River improved over the previous one. The best hours per fish caught were still found in section 14 and were at 15 hours per fish. Sections 15 and 16 both showed a decrease in the hours per fish caught and angler effort in both sections increased as well. Section 15 was at 22 hours per fish caught for the weekend, while section 16 was at 19 hours per fish. Section 17 again had minimal effort for the weekend, but interviews were obtained. No fish were observed caught in section 17 by creel personnel, but most likely some steelhead harvest has occurred upstream of Salmon. It is also worth noting that the Salmon river was cloudy most of the weekend due to ash runoff from the Halstead fire near Stanley. As of today (22nd), the river is looking much better. Any more rain may push additional ash into the river again, but hopefully it will not have as big of an effect on it as it did this weekend.  - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries Technician

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 10/21/2012    
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 24 90 0 6 6 15 -- 44 CDY
15   Salmon R. - Middle Fork Salmon R. to North Fork Salmon R 166 475.5 8 14 22 22 59 44 CDY
16   Salmon R. - North Fork Salmon R. to Lemhi R. 76 412.5 14 8 22 19 29 43 CDY
17   Salmon R. - Lemhi R. to Pahsimeroi R. 7 19.5 0 0 0 -- -- 43 CDY

 

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

Steelhead Creel Survey for 10/07/12

 

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
01   Snake River - Downstream from Salmon River 150 798 14 18 32 25 57 65 CLR
02  Snake R. - Salmon R. to Hells Canyon Dam 18 134 9 4 13 10 15 65 CLR
03   Clearwater River - Mouth to Memorial Bridge 96 465 14 17 31 15 33 58 CLR
03A  Clearwater  - Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge 25 150 0 12 12 13 -- 58 CLR
11   Salmon R. - Whitebird Cr. to Little Salmon R 12 49 3 4 7 7 16 51 CLR
12   Salmon R. - Little Salmon R. to Vinegar Cr. 11 57 0 1 1 57 -- 51 CLR