Outdoors

Idaho clarifies Clearwater chinook season changes

FISHING — Here's an update to with more and clearer details regarding my earlier post on Idaho's decision to close fishing for adult spring chinook salmon in the Clearwater River.  This was just released from Idaho Fish and Game's Lewiston office.

Tuesday, May 21, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game closed the lower Clearwater River from the Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge in Lewiston to the Cherrylane Bridge to all salmon fishing.  The other sections of the Clearwater previously open to salmon fishing will remain open for harvest of jack salmon four days per week, Friday through Monday. 

Sections of the Clearwater River basin that remain open to jacks-only harvest include:

  • The mainstem Clearwater:  From Lenore Bridge to Greer Bridge
  • The North Fork Clearwater River:  From the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam excluding the perimeter of the Dworshak National Hatchery at Ahsahka.  Fishing from any watercraft is prohibited.
  • The Middle Fork Clearwater:  From the mouth of the South Fork Clearwater River upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.
  • The South Fork Clearwater:  From its mouth upstream to the confluence of the American and Red rivers.

Anglers are not be allowed to retain adult Chinook salmon anywhere in the Clearwater basin, but can continue to retain four adipose fin-clipped  salmon less than 24 inches total length (jacks), per day.  Jack salmon count against the daily limit but need not be recorded on the salmon permit. There is no season limit for jacks.

Jacks are salmon that return after one year in the ocean.  They are relatively abundant this year, are not necessary in the brood stock and are all available for harvest.  Managers estimate that over 2000 jacks returning to hatcheries in the Clearwater River will be available for harvest by sport anglers.

Fishery managers had consistently predicted that a relatively small number of adult hatchery Chinook salmon would return to the Clearwater River in 2013 and that over 50 percent would be needed to fill the hatchery brood stock quota.  With the support of the public, managers structured a conservative fishery framework that allowed fishing four days per week with a daily limit of one adult Chinook salmon per day.  The hatchery fish available for harvest are shared with Tribal fishers, resulting in less than 25 percent of the hatchery adults available for the sport fishery.  Excellent fishing conditions and a pulse of fish moving through the lower Clearwater River resulted in the sport fishery achieving the harvest objective more quickly than expected.

Salmon fisheries on the Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers remain unchanged at this time.

  • See Idaho Fish and Game's updates on seasons and limits here.
  • See an interactive map of river segments open to Chinook fishing.



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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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