Hi everybody, I have been getting bombarded with questions regarding Steelhead and Fall Chinook Salmon runs, so I figured it is about time I give you all an update. I have been holding off until I had enough information to give you something meaningful. So here you go.
For steelhead there are typically two different runs of fish destined for Idaho that people are interested in. One is the earlier arriving Steelhead that are typically dominated by one-ocean fish and are mainly destined for the Salmon River, the Grand Ronde River, and Hells Canyon Dam. This run of steelhead is commonly referred to as the “A” run. The other is the later arriving fish that is typically dominated by larger two-ocean fish and are predominately destined for the Clearwater River basin. This run of steelhead is commonly referred to as the “B” run.
By this time of year, typically over 90% of the A run destined for Idaho has passed over Bonneville Dam so we pretty much know what we are going to get. When we look at the number of PIT tagged steelhead destined for Idaho we estimate around 70,000 A run steelhead will pass over Lower Granite Dam. This number will vary some based on what survival is between Bonneville Dam and Lower Granite Dam. This is very similar to what we saw the last two years.
For the B run of steelhead destined for Idaho, typically by this time anywhere from 45 to 60 percent of the run has passed over Bonneville Dam. As such, there is some uncertainty on what is yet to come. However, if the trend holds, it looks like we could get about twice as many fish this year as we saw last year. Again this is dependent on how the run holds out at the survival we see between Bonneville Dam and Lower Granite Dam. The graph below shows how this year’s projected B run compares to previous years. Many have asked me whether we would be implementing restrictive regulations for steelhead on the Clearwater River this year. I can tell you that if the run holds true to our projection, no changes to the rules will be necessary.
To date 22,000 steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (since June 1), and over the previous three days at least 1,300 steelhead a day have been passing over the dam. Fishing has been fairly slow (> 20 hrs/fish) in the Snake River and Clearwater River downstream of Memorial Bridge where fish can be harvested. But expect these catch rates to improve as more fish move into Idaho. Steelhead fishing in the catch-and-release area of the Clearwater River (upstream of Memorial Bridge) has been fairly good with catch rates around 5 to 6 hours a fish. One interesting this about this year’s A run is that over half the fish that have passed over Lower Granite Dam are two-ocean fish (9-13 lbs). So, although the catch rates haven’t been all that great, people have been pleased with the size of the fish they are catching. Now that the B run is just starting to reach Idaho, the size of the fish should just get bigger.
Here's information on the Clearwater Region's Fall Chinook salmon fishery. - Joe Dupont, Fisheries Manager, Clearwater Region