ifishidaho

Weekly Chinook Update 5/29/12

Hi all.  I hope you have all had a chance to get out to and try and catch some fish.  There certainly has been a lot of effort and a bunch of fish caught this past week.

My phone has been inundated with calls this morning and the rumors are running rampant.  So, hopefully I can clear some things up for you with this update.

First of all, the non tribal harvest shares for adult Chinook salmon are listed below (4,724 for the Clearwater and 5,095 for the Riggins area).  They haven’t changed much since last week, but survival appears to be higher for the migrating salmon between Bonneville and Lower Granite than expected. We may see our harvest share increase some in the future, but not more than a couple hundred fish.  Regardless, there are a lot of fish out there to catch. (click 'read more' for chart and more informaiton.)

Adult Chinook salmon run estimate based on PIT tags passing over Bonneville Dam
Release group Bonneville pre-season forecast Current number over Bonneville based on PIT tags Projected total run estimate to Bonneville based on late run timing Broodstock needs Estimated non-tribal harvest share above LGD
Dworshak 30,720 7,029 7,038 1,200 1,504
Kooskia (Dwrs) 3,680 2,984 3,195 800 625
Kooskia (Clwr) 2,539 1,583 1,576 NA 563
Selway 4,154 2,664 2,690 NA 868
Powell 6,146 1,568 1,589 694 222
SF Clearwater 10,287 4,272 4,315 1,014 942
Total Clearwater R. 57,525 20,099 20,403 3,708 4,724
Rapid River 35,425 16,825 16,872 2,000 4,760
Upper Little Salmon   981 984 NA 335
Total Riggins Area 35,425 17,807 17,856 2,000 5,095
Hells Canyon    3,378 3,387 400 952

Fishing was hot and heavy in the Clearwater River last week and made for a great Memorial Weekend for many anglers.  As of the end of Sunday we had harvested about 26.5% of our overall harvest share for the Clearwater River drainage.  Most of those fish were caught in Lewiston area (mainstem Clearwater from Cherryland Bridge upstream to Orofino Bridge.)  In fact, this is the most fish that I have seen caught in this river section in one week since I have been here (since 2008).  I fully expect the number of fish caught in this section to drop off this week as pressure has declined notably since Memorial Weekend and many of the fish have pushed on upstream. 

Because of this large harvested about 17% of the overall harvest share has now been taken in this section. Remember we are shooting for about 25% of the harvest to occur in this area which leaves another 380 adult Chinook salmon to harvested in this section.  We think this is enough fish to keep this section open through at least this weekend.  We will look at the numbers after the weekend to see where we are at, but it may not last much longer than that if harvest doesn’t drop down some.  This week I fully expect to see more harvest all the way upstream to the Kooskia area and maybe even in the South Fork Clearwater. 

Weekly Chinook Update 5/24/12

Hi all, it looks like I need help with my ability to forecast the run size.  Unfortunately, I think we have gotten to the point where most of the adult Chinook salmon destined for the Clearwater Region have come over Bonneville Dam.  This means our harvest share will likely be somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 adult fish for the Clearwater River drainage and the Rapid River area.  Check out the table below (or click 'read more') to see where these fish are headed for based on PIT tags we have detected at Bonneville Dam.  

Adult Chinook salmon run estimate based on PIT tags passing over Bonneville Dam
Release group Bonneville pre-season forecast Current number over Bonneville based on PIT tags Projected total run estimate to Bonneville based on late run timing Broodstock needs Estimated non-tribal harvest share above LGD
Dworshak 30,720 6,908 7,025 1,200 1,501
Kooskia (Dwrs) 3,680 2,938 3,166 800 616
Kooskia (Clwr) 2,539 1,583 1,590 NA 568
Selway 4,154 2,624 2,686 NA 848
Powell 6,146 1,568 1,602 694 226
SF Clearwater 10,287 4,177 4,294 1,014 935
Total Clearwater R. 57,525 19,799 20,363 3,708 4,694
Rapid River 35,425 16,689 16,783 2,000 4,730
Upper Little Salmon R.   974 980 NA 333
Total Riggins Area 35,425 17,664 17,763 2,000 5,063
Hells Canyon    3,350 3,369 400 946

Fishing effort certainly picked up in the Clearwater River last week with most of it occurring in the Lewiston Area.  With most of the effort occurring there, it is not too surprising that this is where most of the fish were caught.  As time progresses we will see more and more fish caught upstream.  The table below shows where these fish were caught on a weekly basis.  One thing all of you can track is as we add on each weeks harvest onto the table below, you will be able to determine how close we are getting to potential closures for the different river sections.  Our target adult harvest for each river section is listed in the bottom part of the table below.  In case you are wondering how we came up with these different target amounts of harvest for each river section, it came from all of you based on input in public meetings, creel surveys and mail surveys.  It is important for all of you to realize that these are only targets and we may need to adjust them based on where the fish are destined and how harvest is going in the different river sections.  For example, if anglers in the lower river (Lewiston area) cannot harvest 25% of the fish, we will obviously allow more harvest upstream; or if a very high percentage of the adults are destined to a certain stream section, we may be required to allow more harvest there to get at these fish.  At this point, there is no point for you to worry, just get out there and catch more fish.  Now is the time to be fishing the Clearwater River.

 

Clearwater Weekly Chinook Harvest Summary 5/22/12

Flying J Ramp

Fishing has definitely started to pick up on the Clearwater! There were a lot of anglers out over the weekend. Creel section 1 (Railroad bridge to Cherry Lane bridge) saw the highest effort and had the most fish caught. Sections 2, 3, and 4 have also documented a few fish.  (see chart below or click on 'read more.') Creel section 5 on the Snake River (Dug Bar boat ramp to Hells Canyon Dam tail race) documented its first fish caught over the weekend. The Salmon river did have some documented effort, but no fish were caught.

This week’s picture was taken at the Flying J boat ramp on Sunday. The angler was very happy after being skunked on Saturday.  - Jaime Mills, 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

213

0

213

6,173

29

76

Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge

15

0

15

1,100

73

0

North Fork Clearwater River

21

0

21

216

10

0

Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge

14

0

14

378

27

0

Middle Fork Clearwater River

0

0

0

0

-

0

South Fork Clearwater River

0

0

0

0

-

0

Lochsa River

0

0

0

0

-

0

Clearwater River drainage Week total

263

0

263

7,867

30

76

Clearwater River drainage Season total

279

0

279

10,007

36

79

 

Weekly Chinook Update 5/16/12

Hi all.  It appears my crystal ball has some glitches in it that I need to work out.  Our projected harvest share (based on counts at Bonneville Dam) for adult Chinook salmon for the entire  Clearwater River basin increased by about 1,200 fish from last week, which is great, but I’m not sure we will get to that 7,000 to 9,500 range that my crystal ball predicted (see table below or click 'read more' for estimates). 

Fish destined for the Clearwater River are still coming over Bonneville in good numbers and the Jacks are just starting to arrive which may indicate there still are a bunch to come.  Regardless, we are in the makings for one of the best Chinook seasons in the Clearwater River since 2002.   Based on our creel surveys, we estimated that 16 adult Chinook salmon were harvested from the Clearwater River last week.  I’ve already heard of more fish harvested this week, and the counts are really starting to pick up over Lower Granite Dam.  This weekend should be a great time to be fishing in the lower Clearwater.  These fish will start pushing further upstream later in the week.

Where my crystal ball seems to really have had some problems is with predicting the run headed for the Riggins area.  The projected harvest share has not changed since last week (about 5,000 adult fish) and based on the number of PIT tagged fish coming over Bonneville it makes it seem that the run over Bonneville Dam is starting to be wind down.  However, a harvest share of over 5,000 adults is nothing to scoff about.  We’ve had some great fisheries in the Riggins area with fewer fish than that.  We also don’t have the same snow pack as last year, so we shouldn’t expect the same continuous high flows that can cause havoc with our fisheries.  Right now flows are projected to be in the 45,000 to 55,000 range for the next week.  This may or may not influence fish movement depending on how dirty the water gets.  Right now two-thirds of the fish crossing over Lower Granite Dam are headed for Rapid River and they have been passing over the Dam for about two weeks now.  That means these fish should just start to be arriving in the Riggins Area fishery.  We think the slide (a big rapid on the lower Salmon River) can cause delays once flows start exceeding 50,000 cfs so this may slow down these fishes travel times.  I hope to hear of the first fish being caught in Riggins by this weekend or a little bit later in this area. 

I also expect somebody to start catching fish in the Hells Canyon Fishery by this weekend as well. 

Clearwater Region Chinook Harvest Summary 5/14/12

This past week and more so this weekend saw a jump in angler effort, but the catch rates were poor on Section one ( Camas railroad bridge to Cherry lane bridge). Section 5 (Dug Bar to the tailrace of Hells Canyon Dam) did see a few anglers but there were no documented fish caught.  See Harvest Summary Chart below (or click on 'read more' for chart.) - Jaime Mills, 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

16

0

16

1,985

124

3

 

Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge

0

0

0

0

-

0

 

North Fork Clearwater River

0

0

0

0

-

0

 

Orofino Bridge to Kooskia Bridge

0

0

0

0

-

0

 

Middle Fork Clearwater River

0

0

0

0

-

0

 

South Fork Clearwater River

0

0

0

0

-

0

 

Lochsa River

0

0

0

0

-

0

 

Clearwater River drainage Week total

16

0

16

1,985

124

3

 

Clearwater River drainage Season total

16

0

16

2,140

134

3

 

 

Weekly Chinook Update 5/10/12

I hope you are ready to catch some salmon because they are on their way!! 

Yes, my weekly Chinook update for the Clearwater Region is going to have a much more upbeat tone than last week as the counts over Bonneville have increased dramatically.  In fact, we haven’t seen as many spring Chinook salmon come over Bonneville as we saw yesterday (18,436) since the incredible years of 2001 and 2002.  In case you were wondering, we had a peak one day count of spring Chinook over Bonneville in 2001 of 27,020 fish. 

I’m also happy to report that a whole bunch of these fish are headed to Idaho.  As you can see in the table below (or click on ‘read more’) the estimated non-tribal harvest share for fish headed to Clearwater Region release sites has about doubled since last week.  It’s important to understand though that this estimate is based on the average late timing we have seen in the past.  This run is even later the average late timed run so I expect to see this estimate continue to climb. 

To give you some idea of what I mean, based on the average late timing, about 76% of the hatchery Chinook salmon destined to the Clearwater River and Rapid River would have passed by Bonneville on this date.  Based on the number of Jacks and summer run Chinook that have come over Bonneville and the timing of when this run seems to be peaking, my best guess (for whatever that is worth) is that only about 40-50% of the hatchery Chinook destined to the Clearwater River and Rapid River have passed by Bonneville.  If this is true, our harvest share for the Clearwater River will increase to 7,000 to 9,500 fish and 9,000-12,000 fish for the Riggins area.  I guess only time will tell how good I am with my crystal ball.  I’m still trying to fine tune it.    

Adult Chinook salmon run estimate based on PIT tags passing over Bonneville Dam
Release group Bonneville pre-season forecast Current number over Bonneville based on PIT tags Projected total run estimate to Bonneville based on late run timing Broodstock needs Estimated non-tribal harvest share above LGD
Dworshak 30,720 4,694 6,225 1,200 1,254
Kooskia (Dwrs) 3,680 2,095 3,038 800 574
Kooskia (Clwr) 2,539 1,013 1,270 NA 451
Selway 4,154 1,426 1,902 NA 478
Powell 6,146 1,007 1,351 694 136
SF Clearwater 10,287 2,508 3,384 1,014 629
Total Clearwater R. 57,525 12,742 17,171 3,708 3,522
Rapid River 35,425 13,743 17,095 2,000 4,829
Upper Little Salmon   805 1,001 NA 340
Total Riggins Area 35,425 14,547 18,096 2,000 5,170
Hells Canyon    2,759 3,432 400 967

What does all this mean for Chinook fishing?

1326 Chinook have been reported to come over Lower Granite Dam, which isn’t a ton of fish, but people have started reporting that they are catching fish in the Clearwater River.  Catch rates are slow right now, but the weather and flows are great, and people say it’s just good to be out fishing.  I suspect that in about another week the fishing will really start picking up in the Clearwater.  That large group of fish coming over Bonneville Right now should start hitting the Clearwater River in two to three weeks depending on flows. 

Weekly Chinook Update 5/4/12

Hi everybody, I waited as long as possible before I sent out this week’s weekly Chinook update.  I was hoping run conditions would improve so I would have better news to report.  Unfortunately they haven’t so this is what I  have to report. 

Shortly after I sent the weekly update last week (4-25-12) flows increased dramatically in the Columbia and a slug of dirty water moved through. Not too surprising the number of Chinook salmon moving over Bonneville Dam dropped off dramatically, as increases in flows - especially when they are coupled with dirty water - have consistently been shown to slow down fish migrations. Some telemetry studies have found that some fish will actually move back downstream in these types of events.

What I was fully expecting after these flows dropped and water clarity improved was the fish counts over Bonneville would rebound.  Counts have come back up some, but not to the level I was expecting. This drop in dam counts certainly has influenced our models prediction of what we could expect to come over Bonneville Dam in the future (table below or click 'read more'); however, it is important to realize that these predictions can fluctuate greatly early in the run, which is where we are now. 

I fully expect our projected run total to increase, but just how much is hard to tell. Flows are still high on the Columbia. They are at around 400,000 cfs and the average for this time of year is about 250,000, so this could help explain why fish aren’t coming over Bonneville like expected.  Some other things that lead me to believe we still have a lot more fish to come are, we have only seen a few jacks destined for Idaho come over Bonneville, which indicates we are still early in the run.  Another thing to note is if you look over the timing of runs since the construction of Bonneville Dam (1938), three of the five latest runs on record have occurred in the last 6 years which suggest maybe we are in a new paradigm where late runs are more of the norm. 

I still have heard no reports of anybody catching a Chinook in Idaho which is not too surprising since we have had only 129 come over Lower Granite Dam to date.  I expect we will have our first Chinook harvested by this time next week.   - Joe Dupont, Clearwater Region Fish Manager

Adult Chinook salmon run estimate based on PIT tags passing over Bonneville Dam
Release group Bonneville pre-season forecast Current number over Bonneville based on PIT tags Projected total run estimate to Bonneville based on late run timing Broodstock needs Estimated non-tribal harvest share above LGD
Dworshak 30,720 2,009 4,621 1,200 767
Kooskia (Dwrs) 3,680 855 2,117 800 278
Kooskia (Clwr) 2,539 252 588 NA 208
Selway 4,154 560 1,277 NA 196
Powell 6,146 303 718 694 (91)
SF Clearwater 10,287 886 2,063 1,014 184
Total Clearwater R. 57,525 4,864 11,383 3,708 1,540
Rapid River 35,425 6,359 13,593 2,000 3,628
Upper Little Salmon   383 819 NA 279
Total Riggins Area 35,425 6,742 14,412 2,000 3,907
Hells Canyon    1,276 2,728 400 728

 

Idaho Chinook Salmon Update 4/25/12

Here's good news for all you Chinook salmon anglers!  The Chinook salmon are starting to pour over Bonneville Dam. 

Based on the number of PIT tagged fish that have come over Bonneville Dam to date (4-25-12), our model projects that we will have a good salmon run this year.  The actual run size projection for each of our release sites (sites we release our smolts) are provided in the table below.  If the salmon keep coming back like they are, these run estimates will only continue to climb.  Based on these counts, fishing should get real good in around three weeks in the Lewiston area, and about five weeks in the Riggins area depending on flows.  If flows maintain above 40,000 cfs in the Salmon River, it could take considerably longer for these fish to get to the Riggins area fishery.

Who will be the first to catch a salmon in Idaho?  - Joe Dupont, Clearwater Regional Fish Manager