steelhead

Upper Salmon River Weekend Report 11/19/13

Colder weather moved in this past weekend on the upper Salmon River, and angler effort dropped off significantly as a result. The catch rates though remained similar to the previous weekend. Anglers in location code 14 - downstream of the Middle Fork - averaged 14 hours per steelhead caught and 37 hours per steelhead kept. Anglers in location code 15 also averaged 14 hours per steelhead caught and 18 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream of North Fork, in location code 16, anglers averaged 28 hours per steelhead caught and 33 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 17, between the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi rivers, anglers averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 13 hours per steelhead kept. Click here for more details.  - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician

 

Fall Chinook and Steelhead Updates 11/19/13

The 2013 fall Chinook fishery was without a doubt our best season since the fishery began in 2008. Harvest and catch were nearly double of any previous season with a total harvest of 2,667 and a total catch of 11,037. Steelhead fishing is occurring in most open areas and the best catch rates are in the lower Salmon River. The steelhead fishery in the Snake River section 02 from the mouth of the Salmon River upstream to Hells Canyon Dam has tanked over the last couple weeks currently taking an estimated 223 hours to harvest a fish.  - Don Whitney, Clearwater Regional Fisheries Biologist

Boise River to get 2013 steelhead

A lot of questions about steelhead being stocked in the Boise River have come in to the Fish and Game offices. If you missed the news release yesterday, there is some exciting news!

About 200 steelhead will be stocked on Friday, November 22nd in the Boise River!

Get your steelhead tag and enjoy the opportunity. Not sure where to start? Try the Fish and Game steelhead page to get started.

Fishing the Boise River 

 

Steelhead in the Boise River is uncertain

A story came out this week about stocking steelhead in the Boise River.

We just opened the Hells Canyon trap on Monday.  At the present time, we have no report of the number of fish trapped this week.  If there are steelhead excess to the needs of our management program, then steelhead will be transported to the Boise River. 

It will probably take us a couple of weeks to determine the status of the run and availability of fish for the Boise River.  Check back with us in a couple of weeks for an update.

 

Read the story here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/11/05/2852536/no-steelhead-for-the-boise-river.html 

Upper Salmon River Weekend Report 10/20/13

This weekend on the upper Salmon River the steelhead fishing improved considerably over the previous one in location codes 14 and 15, but remained slow upstream in location codes 16 and 17. Anglers had the best catch rates downstream of the Middle Fork in location code 14, where they averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 47 hours per steelhead kept. In location code 15 anglers averaged 17 hours per steelhead caught and 55 hours per steelhead kept. No kept steelhead were found upstream of North Fork and only one was reported as released, which resulted in a catch rate of 356 hours per steelhead in location code 16. In location code 17, angler effort was low and no steelhead were reported caught.  Click here for a full report.  - Brent Beller, Salmon Region Fisheries Technician

 

Rule Changes on Clearwater River

Hi everybody, we are implementing rule changes for steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River that you all should be aware of.  First I will let you know what the rule changes are and then I will let you know why we made these changes.

Starting on the season opener (October 15, 2013), for the entire Clearwater River basin where steelhead fishing is allowed, the limit will be 1 adipose clipped steelhead, 2 in possession (see attachment). 

In addition, from the mouth of the Clearwater River upstream to the Orofino Bridge including the North Fork Clearwater River, only adipose clipped steelhead less than or equal to 28 inches can be harvested.

These rules will apply for both the fall and spring seasons which means they will remain in effect through April 30, 2014 after which the steelhead season closes in the Clearwater River basin.

Obviously, with these rules, people will be needing to measure some of these fish to make sure they are legal.  Here are my recommendations to minimize handling mortality.  If the fish is clearly larger than 28 inches don’t take it out of the water unless you want to take a quick picture.  For those fish close to 28 inches, put some marks on the outside of your boat that you can rest the fish against to check it’s length against (you may be able to do this without taking the fish out of the net).  This will help prevent people from dropping a struggling fish in the bottom of their boat increasing the likelihood of handling mortality.  For bank anglers, try to keep the fish in the water while measuring it.  If you turn a steelhead upside down while in the water, it tends to remain calm allowing you to accurately measure this fish (this requires two of you though). 

I imagine, for some of you, these rule changes have your blood boiling.  Please bear with me and read on so you understand why we had to make these rule changes.

Typically, we collect about 80-90% of the Clearwater River basin’s steelhead brood stock at Dworshak Hatchery depending on how many fish we can collect during our localized brood stock efforts in the South Fork Clearwater River (collected by anglers) and at Kooskia Hatchery.  Our total brood stock needs are around 2,000 fish which means we should trap around 1,700 fish at Dworshak Hatchery to be sure we meet our brood needs.  In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with conserving and perpetuating the NF Clearwater steelhead stock to the best of their ability, and a couple traits that they try to maintain in this steelhead population are a broad spectrum of return and spawn timing and a dominance of the 2-ocean life history.  As such, we just don’t want to spawn any fish that arrives at the hatchery.  We want to make sure we collect fish from early in the run and from late in the run.  In addition, the majority (~95%) of steelhead we spawn are the 2 and 3-ocean fish (these fish tend to be greater than 28 inches) to make sure we maintain that larger size structure the Clearwater River basin is famous for.   So, if you look at the table below, you will see we are forecasting (based on PIT tag returns at Bonneville Dam) a return of 1,948 2 and 3-ocean steelhead destined for Dworshak Hatchery.  If we need 1,700 of these fish to make it to Dworshak Hatchery for brood purposes, that doesn’t leave much for tribal and non-tribal harvest.  In fact, the only way we feel confident that we can get the necessary fish to Dworshak Hatchery is to restrict all harvest of these 2 and 3-ocean fish (those fish greater than 28 inches) as we know some of these fish will not make it to the hatchery for natural reasons (straying or natural mortality) and others will die from catch and release practices.  Because we spawn very few of the 1-ocean fish, it makes sense that we allow them to be harvested and is the reason why you will be able to keep steelhead less than or equal to 28 inches downstream of Orofino Bridge including the North Fork.  Notice that about 40% of the steelhead returning to Dworshak Hatchery will be 1-ocean fish.  Very few (< 10%) of the Dworshak released fish venture upstream of the Orofino Bridge and is why upstream of this location we will allow harvest of all sizes of  steelhead.

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If you are wondering how this Dworshak hatchery return compares to past returns, the table below shows the returns of 2 and 3-ocean fish since the 1994-5 run year.  You will notice that this year’s run (1,948 fish) is projected to be less than half the previous low for these years.  For the 1994-5 run we had a 2-fish limit with no size restrictions and Dworshak Hatchery did not meet its brood needs that year (500 fish short).  For the 1995-6 run, we implemented catch-and-release rules through Dec 31 and Dworshak Hatchery exceeded its brood needs by almost 2,000 fish (evidence that restrictive rules can make a big difference).  Since the 1995-6 run year, the daily limit for the fall steelhead fishery has been 2 fish with no size restriction – until now.  We met our brood needs every one of those years.  Over these years, the data suggest we harvest anywhere from 40 to 70% of the fish that enter the fishery and it seems that during the smaller runs we tend to harvest a higher percent of the fish.

A beautiful day for fishing.

Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River

Steelhead fishing is still slow in both the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. Weather is cooling off and we had a nice rain storm on Sunday. The featured picture is of the confluence river section 01 and of Washington river section 648. Click here to see the latest steelhead harvest report. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician

Question on 2 pole permits in Idaho

Every year I purchase a 2 pole permit in Idaho for salmon, trout, and steelhead fishing. The question I have is very specific and pertains to getting close to limiting out on your daily limit.If an angler is 1 fish away from the daily limit, be is salmon, trout or steelhead can that angler still use 2 poles to catch the last fish. I have looked through the regulations and could not find any specific information on this. I was told by another angler over the weekend that if you are 1 fish away from your limit that you can only fish with one pole until you catch that fish.