Chinook anglers on the upper Salmon River had mixed results this past week depending on where they decided to fish. Anglers downstream of the Pahsimeroi River, in location codes 16 and 17, were working hard to find the fish and averaged 202 hours per Chinook caught. Upstream of the Pahsimeroi, in location codes 18 and 19, anglers did much better and averaged 13 hours per Chinook caught. At this point in the season, an estimated 23 hatchery adult Chinook have been harvested downstream of Pahsimeroi and 123 hatchery adult Chinook have been harvested upstream. For more details go to the Chinook Harvest Report.
The Salmon River near the town of Salmon was on the rise most of the week, but it did begin to drop again Sunday morning. As of today, it is back down to approximately 3,000 cfs and the visibility is good. As of June 27th, 150 adult Chinook have returned back to the Pahsimeroi hatchery and as of June 30th, 157 adult Chinook have returned to the Sawtooth hatchery. - Brent Beller. Salmon Region Fisheries Technician
Chinook fishing opened on the upper Salmon River this past weekend, and fish were being caught right away. The river was running at approximately 3,000 cfs through the town of Salmon on Saturday and the visibility was good. Interviewed anglers harvested Chinook in all the river sections open to fishing. Anglers were having to put in a lot of effort to find them, especially in section 16 between North Fork and the Lemhi River. Fishing should improve as we move forward and more Chinook continue to move up river into the fishery while the river level keeps dropping.
As of June 19th, two adult Chinook had been trapped at the Pahsimeroi Hatchery and two adults had also been trapped at the Sawtooth Hatchery. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician
Hi everybody, this is the Clearwater Region’s Chinook Salmon Update (6/24/14).
Because harvest shares haven’t changed from last week and many of the fisheries are ending, I’m going to jump right into what’s going on for each of the fisheries in the Clearwater Region.
Clearwater River Basin Fishery
First, I’d like to let everybody know that right now the only river reaches open to Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater River Basin are the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, and Lochsa rivers and only Jacks are allowed to be harvested in these river reaches. Because we have met our overall harvest share in the Clearwater River Basin we will be closing the remaining open river reaches to all Chinook Salmon fishing at the end of fishing hours on Sunday June 29, 2014. That means on Monday June 30, 2014 the entire Clearwater River basin will be closed to Chinook Salmon fishing.
All in all I think this was a fairly good Chinook Season. The fish did come in fast and furious and as the result many of the fisheries didn’t last long, but that is the nature of the beast for Chinook Salmon fisheries. Most of the river reaches we managed got at least two or three good weeks of fishing, and unfortunately that is all about you can expect when the run doesn’t get spread out when migrating up the Columbia and Snake rivers (likely due to the lower and clearer water conditions in the Columbia during their migration.) Most of the river reaches we manage we were able to get within a few percent of our harvest goals. We may have been off a little more on a couple of the river reaches, but in reality it is very difficult for us to get more accurate than this.
Many of you had comments about how we might be able to do a better job managing this fishery in the future, and I look forward to chatting more about these ideas during our public meetings this winter.
Rapid River Fishery
Last week was another good week of fishing on the Rapid River run although it wasn’t as good as the previous week. Catch rates were around 11 hours a fish in the Little Salmon River and about the same in Salmon River. Based on reports from our creel personnel, it looks like we are seeing similar catch rates in the Little Salmon River for the beginning of this week as well. Some have asked why we closed the entire lower Salmon River to fishing last week. The reason is to protect upstream migration hatchery and wild salmon. In fact, the Pahsimeroi run is so weak this year that if we didn’t make the closures we did, we could actually harvest enough of their fish to could close this fishery down before the fish really got there. Right now the only area open to Chinook fishing (for the Rapid River run) is the Little Salmon River. We will look at harvest numbers as well as the number of brood stock we are collecting and let you know tomorrow (Wednesday) if there are any closures for the Little Salmon in the immediate future.
Hells Canyon Fishery
The Hells Canyon Fishery did not receive much effort last week and the fishing was tough (32 hrs/fish). As result, we estimated that only 14 adults were harvested bringing our total harvest to 420 fish. Our harvest share is around 1,000 adult fish and as a result this fishery will likely remain open for quite some time.
I’m leaving for vacation this Friday and as such this will be the last weekly update I provide. Don Whitney (Harvest Monitoring Biologist) will keep you posted on the status Little Salmon Fishery.
So this is it from me until the Steelhead and Fall Chinook seasons begin. Have a great summer. - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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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