Steelhead catch rates on the Clearwater River this past week were good with 10 hours or less to catch. We are starting to document more anglers fishing above Orofino Bridge and we documented catch on the South Fork of the Clearwater. The Salmon River documented 18 hours or less to catch and the Snake River documented 18 or less as well. There are still quite a few people fishing up by Heller Bar on river section 01 of the Snake. Anglers reported that overall the catch rates have been pretty good in that area and are happy with the fishing. Anglers are drifting eggs, floating bobbers, jig with shrimp, bottom bouncing, and back trolling. Check Harvest Report for details. - Jaime Robertson, Senior fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region
With catch rates under 16 hours per fish in all location codes, steelhead fishing remained good this past week on the upper Salmon River. Angler effort was lower than the previous week but remained high for the middle of November. The majority of anglers fished downstream of North Fork in location codes 14 and 15, but an increase in angler effort upstream of Salmon was also observed. In location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, interviewed anglers averaged 8 hours per steelhead caught and 28 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream of the Middle Fork in location code 15, interviewed anglers averaged 13 hours per steelhead caught and 19 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream of North Fork, in location code 16, interviewed anglers averaged 8 hours per steelhead caught and 21 hours per steelhead kept. Interviewed anglers upstream of the Lemhi River in location code 17 averaged 15 hours per steelhead caught and 22 hours per steelhead kept.
The Salmon River is currently flowing at 1,270 cfs through the town of Salmon, which is 98% of average for today’s date. Throughout the week water temperatures were in the upper 30s with clear visibility. Check Harvest Report for details. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region
Do the numbers look good enough for a Boise river stock?
We had a great salmon season and, as always, are sad the season is over. We caught quite a few big fish this year and it was a lot of fun. - Natalie
Chinook angler effort was lower in all upper Salmon River location codes this past week, but catch rates remained good. Once again the majority of anglers were found in location code 19, near Stanley. Anglers near Stanley averaged 20 hours per Chinook caught and 42 hours per Chinook kept. Fewer anglers were observed fishing downstream of Ellis in location code 17, but those who did averaged 33 hours per Chinook caught and 47 hours per Chinook kept which were the best catch rates of season so far in the Ellis area. Currently, the Salmon River is flowing at 1,240 cfs through the town of Salmon which is 34% of average for today’s date. As of Sunday, July 5th, 700 hatchery adult Chinook had returned to the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery and as of Thursday, July 2nd, 914 hatchery adult Chinook had returned to the Pahsimeroi Hatchery. Additionally, on Thursday, July 2nd, 86 hatchery adult Chinook from the Pahsimeroi Hatchery were released at the 11-mile boat ramp to provide anglers a second chance at harvesting them. Salmon River location codes 18 and 19, from 100 yards upstream of the Pahsimeroi River to 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir and trap, are now closed to the harvest of adult Chinook. The harvest of jack Chinook salmon, those under 24 inches, will continue until further notice. Anglers may harvest up to 4 adipose-clipped Chinook salmon under 24 inches per day and any salmon 24 inches or longer must be immediately released. Any anglers who harvest 4 jacks in a day or have 12 jacks in possession must discontinue fishing. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region
New Juvenile Fish Trap in the Lochsa!
We thought folks might be interested in why we have this new piece of equipment floating in the Lochsa at Lowell. The Lochsa River is a potential stronghold for wild steelhead in Idaho, though we have much to learn about this population.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is working to better understand Lochsa River wild steelhead in order to protect and increase the population of this valuable species. The Lochsa River trap will be operated annually, from February to November (as water levels allow), and will be removed and stored offsite during the winter.
Juvenile rotary screw traps are important tools for fisheries managers to capture juvenile steelhead and other fishes. The traps capture juvenile steelhead leaving their natal streams on their journey to the ocean (outmigration). Fish enter the cone of the trap on the upstream side and are held in the live well on the downstream side of the trap. Traps are checked daily and biological data is collected on individual fish before releasing them to continue their migration to the Pacific Ocean
PIT-Tags are widely used to monitor the survival, abundance, and life history of fish populations. PIT-tags are inserted into many of the juvenile steelhead captured which allows us to track individual fishes movements downstream through the dams and back upstream as adults.
IDFG operates the Lochsa River screw trap to collect information on how many wild steelhead are leaving the Lochsa River, when they are leaving, how old they are, and how well they survive on their way to the ocean. These data are extremely useful in providing agencies the information needed to protect and perpetuate this valuable resource. - Brian Knoth, Clearwater Region Fisheries Biologist
Can I fish anywhere/anytime for salmon/steelhead with a tag and license if catching and releasing? Even if the season is closed/area is closed?
The Potlatch River is a smaller little known river that flows into the Clearwater River about 15 miles upstream of Lewiston, Idaho. For those familiar with this river, images of raging dirty water in the spring and barely a trickle in the summer often come to mind. At first appearance, this is hardly a river that one would consider to support any type of a quality fishery. Years of habitat degradation from farming, logging, grazing and human development has taken its toll on this river. However, about 10 years ago the Idaho Department of Fish and Game began surveying this river and what we learned was truly a surprise.
This river supported a thriving population of truly wild steelhead with almost no hatchery influence. Upon talking to some of the locals, they told stories of when their grandfathers caught steelhead in tributaries that are now dry. It became evident that this river had a lot of potential to produce more steelhead, and that is when it was decided to embark on a major habitat restoration program in this basin. To help direct where money is spent, we initiated a monitoring program to better understand where the steelhead occur, how many there are, and how they respond to the various habitat improvement projects.
We are currently in our tenth field season of studying the steelhead population in the Potlatch River basin. Much of our monitoring occurs in the East Fork Potlatch River and Big Bear Creek, two of the major steelhead producing drainages in the Potlatch. Our monitoring program consists of three major components. We trap adult steelhead at a weir to estimate how many spawn. We use two rotary screw traps (see picture to the right) to catch juvenile steelhead to evaluate the number of smolts that migrate to the ocean each year. And we use PIT tag arrays to learn when adult and juvenile fish implanted with a small microchip enter or leave certain streams. By using at all this data, we can assess steelhead survival and how well the habitat restoration program is working.
Adult steelhead travel over 500 miles from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in tributaries of the Potlatch River. Since 2008, we have estimated between 71-106 adult steelhead return annually to the East Fork Potlatch River to spawn. In 2014, we estimated 96 adults returned to the East Fork which is the 3rd highest return to date. In one of the strong run years, we believe around 1,000 adult steelhead entered the Potlatch River to spawn somewhere in the watershed.
Juvenile steelhead leave the Potlatch River tributaries typically from March-June as they begin their journey to the Pacific Ocean. We monitor this outmigration and estimate the number of juveniles departing from Big Bear Creek and the East Fork Potlatch River drainages. In 2014, we estimated approximately 8,356 juvenile steelhead out-migrated from the Big Bear Creek drainage and 11,126 from the East Fork Potlatch River drainage. These estimates are typical and have ranged from 7,000-48,000 in the East Fork and 4,000-20,000 in Big Bear Creek. The picture below shows our crew PIT tagging juvenile steelhead.
We will continue to monitor and evaluate the steelhead population in the Potlatch watershed as habitat restoration efforts continue. The IDFG, Latah Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Forest Service, and Nez Perce Tribe have made significant efforts to improve habitat in this watershed. These efforts help insure this steelhead population will thrive for years to come and ultimately provide new fishing opportunities for anglers. - Jason Fortier, Senior Fish Technician, Clearwater Region
The Salmon River cleared up this past week as flows began to decline, and as result, catch rates improved considerably. Angler effort was very low downstream of Salmon, in location code 16, but the few interviewed anglers that were out averaged 2 hours per steelhead caught and no steelhead were kept. Upstream, in location code 17, angler effort was approximately half of what was observed during the previous week, and interviewed anglers averaged 14 hours per steelhead caught and 20 hours per steelhead kept. Above the Pahsimeroi, in location code 18, interviewed anglers averaged 8 hours per steelhead caught and 30 hours per steelhead kept. Once again, the majority of anglers were observed above the East Fork in location code 19. Anglers in this area continued to do well and averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 30 hours per steelhead kept.
Currently, the Salmon River through the town of Salmon is flowing at 1,680 cfs which is 114% of average for today’s date. The river is running clear and temperatures in the low to mid 40s were recorded throughout the week.
As of Thursday, April 9th the Pahsimeroi Hatchery had trapped 3,441 steelhead, while the Sawtooth Hatchery had trapped 3,240 steelhead. Additionally, Blue Mountain Pond in Challis was stocked with 150 adult steelhead on Tuesday, April 7th. Check Harvest Report for more details. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region
Angler effort continues to decline on the Main Stem of the Clearwater and lower Salmon River as the Spring 2015 Steelhead season nears its end. Most of effort this past week occurred on the Little Salmon River and on the South Fork of the Clearwater. The South Fork of the Clearwater produced the best catch rates of 2 hours/fish caught. Check Harvest Report for more details. - Amanda Schmidt, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region