This past weekend on the North Fork of the Clearwater (river sect 05) a 33in Coho was caught. The fish was weighed at Harvest Foods in Orofino at 11.8lbs with a girth of 17inches. Check Harvest Reports for more salmon havest information from last week. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region
This past Saturday on the Clearwater was wet. It rained off and on most of the day. We are seeing more anglers fish from Orofino and up. Drift boats are dropping in at the Kooskia boat ramp or Button Beach and drifting down to Kamiah. This past week an angler caught a 18lb. Steelhead on the North Fork. Go to Steelhead Harvest Report and Coho Salmon Harvest Report for more details. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region
Anglers are spreading out to fish in the Clearwater region. 185 anglers were checked this past weekend on the Salmon and Little Salmon River. 60 steelhead were caught over the weekend with just under 19/hr catch rates on the Salmon and Little Salmon River.
Of the 178 anglers that were checked on river section 01 of the Snake River this past weekend 91 came out at Heller Bar. These anglers fished a total of 746 hours with 28 hatchery steelhead kept and 48 wild released. No hatchery steelhead were released. Catch rates were 10hrs. 74 of the steelhead anglers that were checked at Heller bar were on guided trips. Please keep in mind that these numbers are for Idaho steelhead anglers only and are unexpanded numbers.
Anglers that are fishing above Memorial Bridge on the Clearwater (river sect 03) are using a variety of lures. Some of the lures were Purple Peril, Black Fly, Lady Caroline Skunk, black & blue Table Fly, Skater Fly, Green butted Skunk, Gold Hair Wing, purple & black fly, Orange Hair Wing, and Rust Colored Fly. Anglers are also using yarn with scent and eggs. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region
The weather was beautiful in Lewiston with highs in the low 80’s. The best catch rates this past week were from US Highway 12 Bridge upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. The guides are taking people out to fish at Heller Bar in force. They spend a lot of time fishing in front of the ramp. They drive to the top of the riffle and drift along the soft water bouncing/drifting bait (usually eggs). It looks like an orchestrated dance between the boats. While we are seeing a lot of effort up the Snake river now we still have quite a few fishermen fishing down in the confluence below the blue bridge (Highway 12 bridge) and up into the Clearwater as far as Memorial Bridge. You can check harvest data on the Fish and Game website. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region
One nice thing about this time of year is while you are fishing for steelhead you could also catch a fall Chinook Salmon. This year, like the past four years, is supposed to be another good year. In fact, we are anticipating that the returning Fall Chinook Salmon run to Idaho will be the second largest run we have seen in quite some time (last year was the largest). We are expecting around 50,000 adults to pass over Lower Granite Dam and what is even more exciting is this year the majority of the adult fish are three-ocean fish that typically range from 18-22 pounds. On average, over 2,000 adult Chinook a day have been passing over Lower Granite Dam for the past week. Soon we should exceed 3,000 adult Chinook a day. Catch rates for Chinook have been quite slow, but they should pick up with all these fish starting to move in.
One thing all of you should know is that only about 30% of the Chinook passing over Lower Granite Dam are clipped. That is because a lot of wild fish are returning and because around half the hatchery Fall Chinook released in Idaho are clipped (This was done to help build the run when numbers were low). As such, you will have to catch around 4 unclipped fish for every one clipped fish you can harvest.
A commonly asked question that I get is, “why don’t you allow us to harvest Fall Chinook Salmon upstream of Memorial Bridge?” Because it is asked so often, I thought I would share my answer with all of you. There are three main reasons.
- First, only about 25% of the hatchery fish released into the Clearwater River are clipped. Thus, when you mix in the wild fish only about 15% of the fish are clipped. That doesn’t leave a lot of fish to be harvested. This clip rate is set until 2017. Discussion will occur to decide what the new clip rate will be starting in 2018.
- Second, the Clearwater River is a very popular place to catch-and-release Steelhead, and has been for many years. Anglers come from all over the Nation to fish this unique fishery. Opening a Fall Chinook season at the same time as this catch-and-release Steelhead season occurs would cause significant changes in the dynamics of this fishery (more anglers and more boats). Many Steelhead anglers say they are not in support of this.
- Finally, the Nez Perce Tribe is largely responsible for rebuilding the Fall Chinook run in Idaho. Because most of the Clearwater River is in the Nez Perce Tribal Reservation, we need to be considerate of their concerns and interests before moving forward with a fishery that targets Fall Chinook in this area. We will have discussions with the Tribe about this when we feel the time is appropriate.
This doesn’t mean that we will never have a Fall Chinook Salmon fishery upstream of Memorial Bridge, but it is important to realize there are many things to consider and address before we ever do so.
Here's additional information on the Clearwater's steelhead fishery this fall.
Well, it is time for me to go. The elk are bugling and I’m hoping one has my name on it. - Joe DuPont, Fishery Manager, Clearwater Region
This past weekend on the Clearwater River was still pretty warm weather wise but, many anglers hit the water in the mornings and evenings. Many anglers are off the water by 12pm. The confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, which is creel section 1 river sect. 01, is still getting the most amount of effort of the creel sections. Most people coming off the water are commenting on the ratio of unclipped vs. clipped fish. Many people are using herring and eggs for bait. Check harvest information. - Jaime Robertson Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region
First, let me tell you what we know about the number of Chinook Salmon we are projecting to come to the Clearwater Region. Last week we had some exciting times when over a three day period over 40,000 Chinook Salmon passed over Bonneville Dam. Since then the counts have dropped back down, but that spike in numbers caused our projected non-tribal harvest share to increase to about 4,000 adult fish in the Clearwater drainage and about 6,3000 adult fish for the Rapid River run. If you recall, last week the projected harvest share was around 3,400 for the Clearwater drainage and 4,500 for the Rapid River run. At this point I am not expecting any large changes in harvest share as typically by this time around 75% of the run of fish heading to the Clearwater Region has passed over Bonneville Dam. If you are wondering how these harvest shares compare to previous years. This is very similar to what we saw in the Clearwater River basin in 2008 and 2009-2012. Last year the harvest share in the Clearwater Basin was 640 fish. So this will be a marked improvement over that. For the Rapid River run, last year the harvest share was 2,100 fish and the year before that it was 4,500 fish. As such this year will be an improvement over the previous two years. All in all, I think we are in store for a very good season.
Clearwater River Basin Fishery
The table below has about everything you need to know about adult harvest of Chinook Salmon in the Clearwater River basin, and I will update it every week for you. It shows how many fish we estimated were harvested each week and where. It shows our harvest share and how many fish are left. Finally, it shows how the public has indicated they would like the harvest share allocated to the different river reaches and how much harvest remains in each of those areas. As we get close to reaching these different target amounts you can expect the fisheries to close in those areas (or at least the adult harvest). Last week we estimated 21 adult Chinook Salmon were harvested in the Clearwater River drainage, all near Lewiston. Go to harvest data for more details.
Counts over Lower Granite Dam the last couple days were around 1,300 and 3,000 fish which is good. Flows are also looking good, so those fish should spread upriver fast. Expect the fishing to really pick up from here on out.
Rapid River Fishery
We did not see any harvest of fish last week on the Rapid River run, and as such I did not include a harvest summary table below. However, once harvest begins I will display a similar table as above for this fishery as well. I can tell you though that the first fish showed up at Rapid River Hatchery two days ago so it would surprise me if some fish are caught this weekend. Flows are looking good right now so those fish coming over Lower Granite Dam now should start being caught in a week.
Hells Canyon Fishery
The Hells Canyon fishery is often one of the first to start up. In fact, our creel crew check one adult last week and we estimated a harvest of three fish. Expect this fishery to pick up in a week as well.
Well the fishery is upon us. I hope you all are getting your gear ready as if the fish aren’t in the area you like to fish now, they should be there soon. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager
When fishing for Chinook salmon you are allowed to keep 2 jack salmon (salmon under 24 inches) per day as long as they are hatchery fish as evidence by the heald scar on the adipose fin. Since jack salmon are sexually immature and not considered as breeding fish, why does it matter if the jack is a hatchery fish or a wild fish? It is not a breeder anyway, so why not allow the keeping of wild jack salmon?