FISHING -- Big numbers of spring chinook are coming and river flows are ideal -- that's a recipe for success in Idaho waters, says Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.
Although only 21 fish were estimated to have been harvested in the Clearwater drainage as of last week, Dupont points to dam counts indicating that the fishing will pick up -- any day.
"Last week we had some exciting times when over a three day period over 40,000 chinook passed over Bonneville Dam," he said.
Since then the counts have dropped back down, but that spike in numbers caused the agency's projected non-tribal harvest share to increase to about 4,000 adult fish in the Clearwater drainage and about 6,3000 adult fish for the Rapid River run -- up from earlier projections of 3,400 for the Clearwater drainage and 4,500 for the Rapid River run.
This share of fish is similar to what Idaho saw in the Clearwater River basin in 2008 and 2009-2012, Dupont said, but last year the harvest share in the Clearwater Basin dropped to only 640 fish.
"So this will be a marked improvement over that," Dupont said. "For the Rapid River run, last year the harvest share was 2,100 fish and the year before that it was 4,500 fish. As such this year will be an improvement over the previous two years. All in all, I think we are in store for a very good season.
"Counts over Lower Granite Dam the last couple days were around 1,300 and 3,000 fish which is good. Flows are also looking good, so those fish should spread upriver fast. Expect the fishing to really pick up from here on out."