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Weekly Clearwater Chinook Update 6/26/12

Hi everybody, it’s time for the weekly Chinook update (6/26/12).  Harvest shares for the Clearwater River, Riggins area and Hells Canyon are shown below and are not much different than last week. 

Harvest dropped off some in the Clearwater Region from last week, but there are still areas where the fishing is good.  Catch rates were below 10 hr/fish for both the North Fork Clearwater and Kooskia hatchery area.  One of our creel clerks told me how surprised she was with how light the fishing pressure was in the Kooskia area last week especially since the fishing was good.  In fact, in her break from work, she managed to go down to the rive and catch two Chinook.  Surprisingly, catch dropped substantially in the South Fork Clearwater last week even though our PIT tag array indicates around 3,000 hatchery fish have moved into this river with fish still trickling in.  We still have a lot of fish remaining on the non-tribal harvest share, so there will be NO closures or rule changes in the Clearwater River drainage this week.   Based on the way the fishery is progressing, it looks like the season could last through July in the Clearwater drainage.

Clearwater River Drainage Chinook Salmon Kept Angler Hours Hours per fish kept Unclipped salmon released
  Adults Jacks Total      
Railroad Bridge to Cherrylane Bridge 0 0 0 115 - 0
Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge 7 0 7 575 82 26
North Fork Clearwater River 150 2 152 1730 11 33
Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge 2 1 3 163 54 0
Middle Fork Clearwater River 82 7 89 852 10 18
South Fork Clearwater River 28 4 32 1468 46 27
Lochsa River 0 0 0 0 - 0
Clearwater River drainage Week Total 269 14 283 4903 17 104
Clearwater River drainage Season Total 3169 191 3360 71396 21 1021

Harvest dropped in the Riggins area last week after two weeks of good catch rates.  Surprisingly, the best catch rates were not in the Park Hole area or the Little Salmon River last week.  They were actually in the Salmon River downstream of Time Zone Bridge and upstream of Shorts Creek.   I think a combination of lower effort and the presence of upriver bound fish made the fishing good in these areas.  There certainly are many fish around the Riggins area, as they continue to flow into the hatchery.  Sometimes it seems that later in the run Chinook just don’t bite as much which can cause catch rates to decline.  Despite this, it seems that there are always groups of anglers that figure it out and catch lots of fish.  Maybe you are one of those anglers?  To date we have harvested about 83% of the Rapid River run which means we have over 700 adult fish still left to harvest (see table below).  Based on these numbers, there will be NO closures or rule changes proposed through Four of July for the lower Salmon or Little Salmon rivers.  Be sure to check in with us after the 4th to see if we have any changes in mind.

Lower Salmon River Chinook Salmon Kept     Angler Hours Hours per fish kept Unclipped salmon released
  Adults Jacks Total      
Rice Creek Bridge to Hammer Creek Boundary 44 5 49 910 19 57
Hammer Creek Boat Ramp to Time Zone Bridge 127 22 149 3175 21 141
Time Zone Bridge to Mouth of Short's Creek 109 6 115 3700 32 15
Short's Creek to Vinegar Creek 54 4 58 1242 21 17
Salmon River Week Total 334 37 371 9027 24 230
Salmon River Season Total 2233 227 2460 51559 21 540

People seem to have lost interest in the Hells Canyon fishery as we documented no harvest in this area last week.  That being said, I would have to guess that the fishing pressure will be light next week  and that there should be plenty of areas to fish if you plan on visiting.

Upper Salmon Chinook Fishery Update 6/25/12

Last Saturday (6/23) was the opening day for the upper Salmon River Chinook fishery in section 19, and we are happy to report that the fish are here! Three harvested adult Chinook were observed by creel technicians and a small number were also seen at the Sawtooth Hatchery weir. The majority of the angler effort was concentrated near the mouth of the Yankee Fork in the middle of section 19, but Chinook anglers were also found upstream and downstream of that area. It is also worth mentioning that the Salmon river was at a very good level for fishing in section 19 this weekend. The water is clear, the level is relatively low, and the river, as well as the fishing, should only keep getting better.   - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries

Expanded Effort and Catch estimates for (June 23 - June 24, 2012)          
Salmon River Stanley Area # of Salmon kept     Total Salmon Released Total Salmon caught Angler Hours     Hours/Fish  
  Adults Jacks Total     Boat Bank Total Caught  Kept
Section 19 Weekly Total 9 0 9 0 9 17 425 442 49 49
Section 19 Season Total 9 0 9 0 9 17 425 442 49 49

Chinook Update on lower Salmon and Little Salmon Fishery 6/20/12

Hi everybody.   I promised to get back to you on the Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers.  I just wanted to let all of you know that there will be no closures or rule changes for Chinook salmon fishing on the lower Salmon or Little Salmon rivers through this weekend (6/24/13).  To date, it looks like we have harvested around 60% of our harvest share, and we estimate that we have around another 1,500 adult fish to harvest.  We will look at our catch data next Tuesday and determine then whether any closures or rule changes need to be made.  If you could help spread the word, I’d appreciate it.   Until then, have fun fishing.  - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Chinook Seasons Set on South Fork, Upper Salmon

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Monday, June 11, approved Chinook fishing seasons on the upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers. The Chinook fishing season opens June 23 and continues until further notice from Fish and Game.

Seasons open June 23 on:

  • South Fork Salmon, lower – From the bridge on Forest Service Road (Lick Creek/East Fork South Fork Road) where it crosses the South Fork Salmon River main stem just upstream of the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 18 river miles to the Blackmare Creek pack bridge, accessible from the trailhead at Poverty Flat campground.
  • South Fork Salmon, upper – From Blackmare Creek pack bridge, accessible from the trailhead at Poverty Flat campground, upstream about 17 river miles south to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap.
  • Upper Salmon River, Stanley Area – From the State Highway 75 Salmon River bridge about 250 yards upstream of the mouth of the East Fork Salmon River upstream to the posted boundary about 100 yards downstream of the weir and trap at Sawtooth Hatchery south of Stanley.

These waters would remain open until closed by further notice. Fishing hours on the South Fork will be from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on the upper Salmon from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Daily bag limits will be four Chinook, no more than two of which may be adults, and the possession limit will be 12 Chinook, no more than six of which may be adults. Anglers must stop fishing for salmon when daily, possession or season limits of adult salmon are reached, whichever comes first.

The season limit is 20 adult Chinook salmon statewide during 2012 salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2012.

Adults are Chinook, 24 or more inches long and jacks are less than 24 inches long. Only salmon with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept. All adult Chinook that are caught and kept must be recorded on the angler’s salmon permit.

A brochure will be available before the start of the season. For additional information please consult the 2011-2012 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure, on the Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Weekly Chinook Update 6/13/12

To start, we are proposing NO CLOSURES in the Clearwater drainage or Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers fisheries this week.

In the Clearwater drainage effort and harvest dropped considerably last week (June 4 – June 10) resulting from increased flows and rainy weather. Last week the adult harvest in the Clearwater drainage was estimated to be less than 200 fish with the majority coming from the North Fork and South Fork Clearwater Rivers. Flows are dropping so hopefully effort and harvest jump back up. For those who fish the South Fork Clearwater the current estimate of hatchery adults that have entered is a little more than 2,000. For a chart on the running progress of the harvest and harvest share for the Clearwater drainage fishery, see below or click on 'read more.'

 

The adult harvest in lower Salmon around at Riggins and the Little Salmon rivers are finally picking up. Below is running progress of the harvest and harvest share for the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

 Again, we are proposing NO CLOSURES in the Clearwater drainage or lower Salmon and Little Salmon river fisheries this week.

There are still a lot a fish to harvest so go get them while you can (just save a few for me). Stay tuned for next week’s updates. - Don Whitney, Clearwater Region Fisheries Biologist

 

Weekly Chinook Update 6/5/12

Hi everybody.  It looks like people were catching fish about everywhere last week (May 28-June 3, 2012).  Hopefully there are a lot of happy anglers out there.  For those who like to fish the Clearwater River basin, I have some good news.  It appears that survival of migrating adults between Bonneville Dam and McNary Dam was higher than we typically see which has increased our projected harvest share to above 5,000 fish (see table below).  The bad news is survival for the Rapid River fish in this same reach appears lower than expected and has resulted in a lower projected harvest share estimate for these fish.  These differences in survival  are largely based upon when these runs migrated through the fisheries on the Columbia.  Rapid River fish came a little earlier this year which made them more susceptible to harvest.  The final harvest share estimate will be based on the number of fish that pass over Lower Granite Dam, so these harvest shares could still change some.  There was considerable harvest in the Lower Snake River (between Ice Harbor and Lower Granite) so we will have to wait and see how this influences our harvest share. (Click 'read more' for more information.)

Adult Chinook salmon run estimate based on PIT tags passing over McNary Dam
Release group Current number over McNary based on PIT tags Projected total run estimate to McNary based on late run timing Broodstock needs Estimated non-tribal harvest share above LGD
Dworshak 5,040 5,235 1,200 1,739
Kooskia (Dwrs) 2,389 3,460 800 1,161
Kooskia (Clwr) 1,138 1,155 NA 550
Selway 2,043 2,132 NA 594
Powell 1,305 1,360 694 311
SF Clearwater 3,478 3,664 1,014 1,127
Total Clearwater R. 15,395 15,850 3,708 5,482
Rapid River 11,220 11,338 2,000 4,240
Upper Little Salmon 646 653 NA 300
Total Riggins Area 11,867 11,991 2,000 4,540
Hells Canyon  2,253 2,276 400 847

In the Clearwater Region last week, people were catching fish from the mouth all the way to the South Fork Clearwater River.  The only place we didn’t document harvest was in the Lochsa River, although I know they were there.  Some of the best catch rates last week were from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge, the North Fork, the South Fork, and yesterday I heard fishing was really good in the Kooskia area.  There should still be a couple thousand adult Chinook destined for the Clearwater yet to come over Lower Granite so don’t over look the lower Clearwater as well.  Finally, I have good news for all of you Clearwater anglers.  Because of the higher than expected survival, we will be proposing NO closures this week in the Clearwater River basin.  So go find your favorite place and catch some fish.  We will look at the harvest numbers next week and get back to you. 

Fishing in the lower Salmon River picked up last week which was good to see. Catch rates were not the greatest (20-25 hr/fish), but I certainly talked to some people who limited out over multiple days.  I was surprised to see that more fish were not harvested in the Little Salmon River last week; but after I was informed that high flows made the fishing difficult, it made more sense.  The rain we had over the last couple days brought flows up considerably in the Salmon and Little Salmon which turned the rivers muddy and has turned off fishing.  Based on the flow prediction services, flows should start coming down by Thursday which should mean the fishing will be good this weekend.  Obviously, this will depend on what the water conditions are like.  Let’s hope it stops raining, as the fish are there and ready to be caught.   

Clearwater Weekly Harvest Summary 6/5/12

The North Fork of the Clearwater saw a 41 in/27lb Chinook harvested this weekend.  - Jaime Mils, Clearwater Region Fisheries

Clearwater River Drainage Chinook Salmon Kept     Angler Hours Hours per fish kept  Unclipped salmon released
  Adults Jacks Total      
Railroad Bridge to Cherrylane Bridge 224 81 305 5,802 19 9
Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge 258 0 258 4,176 16 57
North Fork Clearwater River 131 0 131 1,686 13 13
Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge 49 5 54 1,317 24 20
Middle Fork Clearwater River 53 3 56 1,248 22 27
South Fork Clearwater River 103 0 103 1,271 12 61
Lochsa River 0 0 0 0 - 0

Clearwater River drainage

Week total

818 89 907 15,500 17 187

Clearwater River drainage

Season total

2,068 129 2,197 45,718 21 564

 

Chinook Limits Lowered on Clearwater

Hi all, one thing we have continually heard from anglers is that they would rather have lower limits and a longer season – ideally to last through 4th of July weekend.  Before the season began we projected that our harvest share for the Clearwater River drainage would be over 9,000 adult fish, and with that many fish we believed we could have a two-adult fish limit and the season would likely last until the beginning of July.  It is now apparent that non-tribal harvest share for adult Chinook salmon will be about 4,800 adult fish.  If we combine that with the fact that flows and water clarity have been favorable in the Clearwater system allowing for good fishing and high harvest rates, it seems evident that if the limits are not lowered we may not be able to make the season to last as long as the public desires.  As such, we are reducing the limit of adult Chinook salmon to 1 fish in all reaches of the Clearwater River basin except the South Fork Clearwater River and Lochsa River where anglers have had difficulties harvesting fish in the past.  This rule will take effect at the beginning of fishing hours on Saturday June 2nd.  This will change the daily limit to four salmon per day, only one (1) of which may be an adult. 

The Lochsa and South Fork Clearwater rivers will remain at four salmon per day, only two (2) of which may be adults.

I’d appreciate it if you could all help spread the word. 

Thanks for your help, and good luck fishing.

- Joe Dupont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager