The Little Salmon River and the South Fork Clearwater were a busy fishery over the weekend and catch rates were very good. Fish and Game has discontinued monitoring the Main Clearwater River due to minimal angler effort. Effort observed on the Main Salmon River was also minimal. Click here for more details - Amanda Schmidt, Fisheries Technician
The busiest area this past weekend in the region was on the South Fork of the Clearwater (river sect 07). Hours per fish caught was only 4 hours, which resulted in really good fishing. Many anglers chose to release a lot of the hatchery fish they caught, which resulted in higher hours per fish kept. Effort has continued to drop on the main stem of the Clearwater. The Little Salmon also had a lot of anglers on it this past weekend and had some pretty could catch rates. Click here for more details. Over all the weather was nice and the water was clearer than the previous weekend. - Jaime Robertson. Fisheries Technician
The steelhead fishing improved once again last weekend on the upper Salmon River. The average catch rates in location codes 14 through 19 either improved or remained close to those observed during the previous weekend. Interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 6 hours per steelhead caught, and no steelhead were reported kept. In location code 15, anglers had catch rates similar to last weekend and averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 16 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 16, interviewed anglers averaged 11 hours per steelhead caught and 27 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 17, anglers did considerably better this weekend compared to the previous one when only one steelhead was reported caught. Interviewed anglers from this weekend reported a total catch of 36 steelhead which resulted in averages of 12 hours per steelhead caught and 26 hours per steelhead kept. The fishing in location code 18 also improved this weekend. Anglers there reported averages of 19 hours per steelhead caught and 54 per steelhead kept. Anglers at the upper end of the river, in location code 19, averaged 15 hours per steelhead caught and 35 hours per steelhead kept, which was similar to the previous weekend. Click here for more details.
River conditions did not change much over the past week with river temperatures remaining in the low 40s. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician
This past weekend on the upper Salmon was the best steelhead fishing that has been observed so far this spring with the majority of angler effort located downstream of North Fork in location codes 14 and 15. Interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 13 hours per steelhead caught and 280 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 15, 149 interviewed anglers caught a total of 98 steelhead which resulted in averages of 8 hours per steelhead caught and 18 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 16, between North Fork and the mouth of the Lemhi, interviewed anglers averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 12 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 17, interviewed anglers had a tough time finding fish and averaged 286 hours per steelhead caught or kept. Upstream of the Pahsimeroi River, in location code 18, the fishing was also slow, with anglers averaging 146 per steelhead caught, and no steelhead were reported kept. The fishing improved upstream of the East Fork, in location code 19. Interviewed anglers there averaged 14 hours per steelhead caught and 21 hours per steelhead kept. Click here for more details.
River conditions over the weekend were relatively good, with cloudy water observed downstream of the Pahsimeroi River and clear water observed upstream. River temperatures were in the low 40s and remained fairly stable. Springtime conditions continue to cause rock falls on the Salmon River road downstream of North Fork , and anglers are advised to use caution while driving and deciding where to park. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician
With the low level snowmelt that is occurring, water conditions on the upper Salmon River continue to fluctuate daily. The Deadwater ice jam went out on Wednesday, March 5th, and the river visibility downstream began to improve by Saturday. Rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days, but then clear weather is predicted to move in. If that is the case, then river conditions may continue to improve heading into the upcoming weekend. The road downstream of North Fork is passable, with typical spring time conditions causing rocks to fall in some areas. Anglers are advised to use caution when driving and deciding where to park.
This weekend on the upper Salmon River, angler effort increased considerably in a couple of river location codes. In location code 14, angler effort remained similar to the previous weekend and no interviewed anglers reported catching a steelhead. In location code 15, angler effort increased from 39 hours of effort during the previous weekend to 268 hours this weekend. Anglers in location code 15 also averaged the best catch rates of the weekend at 7 hours per steelhead caught and 17 hours per steelhead kept. Location code 16, from the mouth of the North Fork to the mouth of the Lemhi River, did not receive much angler effort with only one steelhead reported caught. This resulted in catch rates of 22 hours per steelhead caught or kept. Location code 17, from the mouth of the Lemhi River to the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River, had a large increase in angler effort, but anglers only reported catching two steelhead. This resulted in catch rates of 208 hours per steelhead caught and 416 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 18, anglers averaged 42 hours per steelhead caught, and none were kept. In location code 19, anglers averaged 131 hours per fish caught, and no steelhead were reported kept. Click here for more details. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician
The Snake River is showing really good catch rates and good water clarity but, it had very little effort this weekend. This past week, the Clearwater and Salmon rivers were running high with rain and snow melt causing the water clarity to be poor and it made fishing difficult. River section 03 mouth of Clearwater to Orofino bridge had no documented anglers and fishing effort was low during the week as well. It looks like some of the shore effort moved over to the North Fork of the Clearwater for somewhat clearer water. If you get onto the USGS site and look at the water conditions around Stites on the South Fork of the Clearwater it does look as if the water level is peaking so hopefully water conditions will improve within the near future and make for better fishing. Click here for more details.
Photo from Lindsey Bischoff shows spring runoff affecting the North Fork of the Clearwater above Dworshak Dam.
- Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician
This past weekend, road conditions improved enough below North Fork for creel personnel to collect data from all location codes on the upper Salmon River. Anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 5 hours per steelhead caught and 10 hours per steelhead kept. Effort was minimal and no steelhead were observed caught in location code 15. Location code 16 received the most angler effort over the weekend, and anglers there averaged 49 hours per steelhead caught and 147 per steelhead kept. Anglers in location code 17, from the mouth of the Lemhi River to the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River, averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 15 hours per steelhead kept. Similar to last week, angler effort was low upstream of Ellis. The few interviews that were obtained from upstream produced averages of 8 hours per steelhead caught in location code 18 and 17 hours per steelhead caught, or kept, in location code 19. Click here for complete summary.
The Deadwater ice jam has receded back to Deadwater. With warmer weather in the forecast, it may go out within the week. Water conditions downstream of Deadwater remained muddy throughout the weekend, with visibility around 18 inches. Additionally, all boat ramps between Salmon and North Fork have been cleared of ice, with the exception of the 4th of July Access Area. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician
This past week the Clearwater Region saw almost a foot of snow or more in some areas. As a result Idaho Fish & Games weekend creel survey did not document any anglers on the South Fork of the Clearwater, Hells Canyon Dam and Salmon River. Lewiston Tribune reporter, Eric Barker, recently reported that weather and other events are keeping many anglers off the rivers, but for those who are willing to face them have experienced some good fishing at times....
Steelhead surprise on the Clearwater: Die-hard anglers seeing decent catch as crowds stay off the Clearwater and the big fish stick around.
Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 7:20 am, Fri Feb 7, 2014.
By ERIC BARKER of the Lewiston Morning Tribune
Steelhead anglers fishing the Clearwater River have seen restrictive regulations, low bag limits and a disappointing return of B-run fish this fall and winter.
Those conditions have kept efforts low, but anglers willing to face them have experienced some darn good fishing at times.
"You basically have the river to yourself," said Andy Alldredge of Camp, Cabin and Home in Lewiston. "There is plenty of fish around."
The Clearwater, especially the stretch between Lewiston and Orofino, is not the best place to go for those looking to take home a steelhead. Special regulations aimed at ensuring there are enough steelhead for spawning at hatcheries, restrict harvest to fish that are no more than 28 inches long. That has led to some funny-looking harvest statistics.
For example, last weekend anglers on the Lewiston-to-Orofino stretch of the Clearwater landed a steelhead for every six hours of fishing. That's about as good as it gets there. But anglers had to put in 56 hours for every keeper.
"The catching is very good, I would say it's as good as it is in good years. The harvest rates are way down because you can't harvest the big fish," said Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the department at Lewiston. "The reason the catch rates are so good is the effort is very low and the big fish stay out there. We are not cropping (big) hatchery fish, and there is not a lot of competition."
Don Whitney, another Fish and Game biologist, said he and the creel clerks who work for him have heard few complaints from anglers about the harvest restrictions.
"It seems like people understand the restrictions, that if we don't have the brood, we can't release the smolt."
Hatchery fish are in the system so anglers can catch them. But the system depends on enough fish escaping the fisheries and returning to hatcheries so the next generation of fish can be produced.
Normally that is not a problem. In fact, fisheries managers often fret that too many hatchery fish remain left uncaught and that they could pose a threat to protected wild steelhead by breeding with them and reducing the fitness of their offspring.
But this was a poor year for steelhead returns and especially bad for B-run steelhead bound for the Clearwater. Last October, fisheries officials estimated only 5,800 hatchery B-run steelhead would return this fall and only about 2,000 would be bound for Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery has a goal of collecting 2,000 steelhead for spawning.
Dworshak Hatchery met its goal of collecting about 500 steelhead in the fall and has started to collect the remainder of the fish. Both DuPont and Steve Rodgers, managers of the Dworshak complex, said they expect to meet collection goals.
"We really don't have any concern about making it," Rodgers said.
Barker may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.
--Reposted with permission
The North Fork did not see much effort this weekend but a fish was harvested. In the river section 03, primarily around Orofino, there were good angler hours per fish caught, but only four fish were harvested. Click here to see weekend summary. - Jaime Robertson, Clearwater Fisheries Technician