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Steelhead run better, but still not stellar

Steelhead anglers in the Washington-Idaho regions of the Snake River can expect decent fishing this season, although the early forecasts are a mixed bag.

Fisheries managers are predicting a return of 291,000 A-run fish this year to the Snake and Upper Columbia, up from 192,000 counted at Bonneville Dam last year. So fishing’s likely to be better than last year, but not up to the 10-year average of 300,000 fish.

About 50 percent of the A-run steelhead that get counted at Bonneville generally makes it to Lower Granite Dam en route to Idaho waters.

The run of bigger B-run steelhead bound primarily for the Clearwater River appears to be down for a second year. About 22,120 B-runners that spend two to three years in the ocean are expected to be heading toward Lower Granite.

“For the people who like to fish the Clearwater, it might be another lean year,” said Alan Byrne, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologist. “But remember, these are just forecasts, they are just paper fish. You have to wait and see what comes back.”

The spring chinook run is expected to be modest this season, but the run appears to be late and early catch rates were low on the lower Columbia.

Idaho and Washington have yet to set springer seasons for the lower Snake, Clearwater or Salmon rivers.

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