salmon fishing

Clearwater Region Chinook Salmon Update 6/17/14

There are a lot of rule changes occurring this week so I want to make sure you are all aware of these first.  So the rule changes are as follows:

Rule Changes in the Clearwater River drainage

In the Clearwater drainage at the close of fishing hours on Sunday June 22, 2014 all Chinook Salmon fishing for adults and Jacks will end downstream of confluence of the South Fork Clearwater and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers (adults harvest is already closed in this area).  This includes the entire mainstem Clearwater River, and the North Fork Clearwater River.  In addition, all harvest for adults will end at the close of fishing hours on Sunday June 22, 2014 in the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, and Lochsa rivers.  That means starting on Monday June 23, 2014 only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches)  with a daily limit of four (4) will be allowed in the Middle Fork, South Fork, and Lochsa rivers.  All other areas will be closed.  These closures are occurring because we anticipate our harvest share of adult fish will be met in the entire Clearwater River drainage and because reaches downstream of the confluence of the South Fork Clearwater and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers will have met their quota for Jacks.

Rule Changes on the Rapid River Run

On the Salmon River, fishing for all Chinook Salmon (adults and Jacks) will end at the close of fishing hours on Thursday June 19, 2014 between Rice Creek Bridge and Time Zone Bridge and between Shorts Creek and Vinegar Creek.  The Park Hole (the Salmon River between Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek) will remain open through the weekend and then close to all Chinook Salmon fishing (adults and Jacks) at the end of fishing hours on Sunday June 22, 2014.   The Little Salmon River will remain open to the harvest of both adult and Jack Chinook Salmon until further notice.  These closures are being made to protect hatchery and wild Chinook Salmon migrating to upstream fisheries and because we anticipate we will be close to reaching our adult harvest share for this entire fishery by the end of the weekend.

Rule Changes for the Hells Canyon Fishery

No rules changes will occur on this fishery through the weekend.  This fishery will continue until further notice.

Clearwater River Fishery Update

Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater River drainage was excellent last week with catch rates below 10 hrs/fish in most areas open to fishing.  Harvest totals are listed on the Fish and Game website.  We have 340 fish left in our adult harvest share.  For that reason, we anticipate that Chinook Salmon fishing in all reaches will not last much past this weekend.

Rapid River Fishery Update

Fishing on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers was excellent last week with catch rates less than 10 hrs/fish in the Park Hole area and Little Salmon River.  I myself got involved with this fishery last week and had a great time catching fish and visiting with all of you – I look forward to doing it again.   Due to the high effort and good catch rates, we estimated around 3,000 adult fish were harvested last week.  This high amount of harvest is the reason for these closures.  Be prepared for a quick closer on the Little Salmon River after the weekend if we are close to meeting our harvest share.

Hells Canyon Fishery Update

Fishing was also excellent below Hells Canyon Dam.  In fact it was the best we have seen all year there (catch rates of 7 hrs/fish).  A large reason for this is the low amount of effort that occurred there.  I suspect a lot of the people that often fish there were fishing the Little Salmon or Salmon rivers.   To date around 600 adult fish have been taken from the Hells Canyon Fishery.  Our harvest share is around 1,000 fish. 

Well it looks like we are in store for another good week of fishing before many river reaches start closing down.  I’m already hearing good reports out there, so be sure to take advantage of it while you can. 

Good luck and be safe. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Clearwater River Salmon Fishing Restriction

Notice: Restrictions to the harvest of Adult Chinook Salmon in the Clearwater River Downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River. Harvest of Jacks still allowed.

At the end of fishing hours on Friday, June 6, 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will implement a closure to the harvest of adult Chinook Salmon (24 inches or greater) on the Clearwater River from Cherrylane Bridge upstream to Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.  This closure is being implemented because the harvest quota for adult Chinook Salmon has been met in these sections of river.  Harvest quotas for adult Chinook Salmon in different reaches within the Clearwater River drainage were developed using input from the public to help insure all communities in the watershed have opportunities to harvest salmon.  Starting on Saturday, June 7, 2014, only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches)  with a daily limit of four (4) will be allowed downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.  Chinook Salmon rules in river reaches upstream of the Orofino Bridge will remain unchanged until further notice. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

A Chinook is a Chinook - Not

Those of us that live up-River of Riggins are sure hoping that IDFG will limit the lower Salmon River Chinook harvest, so as to allow a decent adult return to the upper River, especially the Pahsimeroi, and Sawtooth hatcheries. After all, is this not the "seed" that feeds the entire River....????  Darren

 

The Chinook salmon running back to Idaho don't leave the ocean to begin their return journey to spawning streams or hatcheries at the same time.  The earliest Chinook to cross Bonneville Dam are headed to the Clearwater River, Snake River, and Little Salmon River systems.  We know the timing because a small percentage of fish have PIT tags that are read in the fish ladder as they swim over the dam.  This allows us to estimate the population of returning salmon several weeks before the fish reach Idaho.  This is why we set the Chinook salmon season and bag limits for lower river fisheries in March.  A few weeks later, we see PIT tagged fish headed for the South Fork Salmon River pass Bonneville Dam.  Once we have a good idea of the population size, based on the PIT tag information, we set the season and bag limit at the May Commission meeting for the South Fork Salmon River.  The last fish to pass Bonneville Dam contain PIT tags that tell us that they are headed for the upper Salmon River and the Sawtooth and Pahsimeroi Fish hatcheries.  That's why the Upper Salmon River season and bag limit is set last.  Typically, by the time Upper Salmon Basin salmon pass Lower Granite Dam and enter Idaho, the lower Salmon River and Clearwater River seasons are closed.

The three different salmon groups all spawn around the same time (early August thru early September).  Because Chinook salmon can no longer utilize food once they leave the ocean, biologists believe this segregated timing of the fish leaving the ocean is a stratagy to optimize survival to spawning time.  So, the fish that swim the farthest are the last to leave the ocean (they build their strenth in the ocean for as long as they can before starting their "death-swim" to the Stanley Basin).  Chinook in the lower Salmon and Clearwater have an easier journey and expend less energy on the trip.  Consequently, they leave the ocean earlier and can live long in fresh water living on their fat reserves.

Most Chinook salmon return to the stream or hatchery where they "smolted" or began the journey from Idaho to the ocean. So, not all Chinook salmon that enter the Salmon River are headed to the Stanley Basin.  -  dparrish

 

 

Closure Notice on Lower Clearwater

Hi everybody, this e-mail is to let you all know about an adult Chinook Salmon harvest closure that we will be implementing at the close of fishing hours on Friday May 16, 2014.  Please help spread the word.

At the end of fishing hours on May 16, 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will implement a closure to the harvest of adult Chinook Salmon (24 inches or greater) on the Clearwater River from Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge in Lewiston upstream to Cherrylane Bridge.  This closure is being implemented because the harvest quota for adult Chinook Salmon has been met in this section of river.  As you may recall, our goal is to allow 25% of the adult harvest to occur in this reach of river.  Harvest quotas for adult Chinook Salmon in different reaches within the Clearwater River drainage were developed using input from the public to help insure all communities in the watershed have opportunities to harvest salmon (refer to the map below for the different harvest quotas).

Anglers may continue to fish for adipose clipped Jack Chinook Salmon between Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge and Cherrylane Bridge.  Jack salmon are defined at less than 24 inches in length.  Any adult salmon (24 inches or longer) caught in this river section must be immediately released.  Chinook Salmon seasons will remain unchanged upstream from the Cherry Lane Bridge.

Thank for your understanding.  - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

 

Live Chat on Fishing in Idaho

Fishing enthusiasts are invited to join an online chat with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and ask questions, give feedback, and learn more about fishing in the Gem State.

Live Event!Anglers can chat live with fisheries and hatchery staff, along with enforcement officers, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm Thursday, May 22. We will answer questions about salmon fisheries, family fishing opportunities, fish stocking and other related topics during the live, two hour chat. 

If you have any questions about fishing in Idaho, this is your opportunity to get answers from the people who manage Idaho's rivers, lakes and streams; and the fish that swim in them.
 

Bookmark this page for the event, or sign-up for a reminder email below! 

 

 

Clearwater Region Chinook Update (5/7/14)

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

 

Keeping of jack salmon

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?

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 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