The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a four-day-a-week spring chinook fishing season Tuesday on short stretches of the Clearwater River and weeklong fishing on the lower Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers.
The seasons will open Saturday.
The state’s harvest share of hatchery chinook in the Clearwater basin is expected to be about 200 adult fish, a razor-thin margin that prompted the commission to leave long stretches on the Clearwater River and its South Fork closed to angling. Commissioners also limited fishing in the Clearwater basin to Fridays through Mondays.
Under rules approved Tuesday, fishing will be allowed on the Clearwater River from the Railroad Bridge at Lewiston to Arrow Bridge, and from the upstream edge of the confluence of the Clearwater and its North Fork near Orofino to the Greer Bridge.
The river will be closed between Arrow Bridge and the mouth of the North Fork, and from Greer Bridge upstream to the mouth of the South Fork.
The entire Middle Fork of the river will be open and the North Fork will be open from its mouth to Dworshak Dam. Boat fishing will not be allowed in the North Fork.
The South Fork of the Clearwater River will be open only between the State Highway 13 bridge near the Harpster Grade to the State Highway 14 bridge near the Mount Idaho Grade. The Lochsa River will not be open for fishing this year.
Anglers fishing in the Clearwater River basin will be allowed to catch and keep up to four hatchery chinook per day, but only one of them can be an adult fish – defined as at least 24 inches in length.
Fisheries biologist Don Whitney of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston said the restricted geographic span and limited days are designed to spread harvest over time and prevent the season from shutting down quickly.
The harvest share on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers is expected to be around 2,500 fish. Because of that, fishing on the lower Salmon River will be allowed from the Rice Creek bridge near Pine Bar upstream to the mouth of Shorts Creek near Riggins. Little Salmon River anglers can fish from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
The bag limit on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers will be four hatchery chinook per day, with a maximum of two adults.
The stretch of the Snake River from Dug Bar to Hells Canyon Dam will be open with a bag limit of four hatchery fish per day and a maximum of one adult. The harvest share on the Snake River will be about 400 fish.
The Snake River in Washington is open Fridays and Saturdays below Ice Harbor Dam, and Sundays and Mondays in the Clarkston area between Steptoe Canyon and the Idaho/Washington state line and near Little Goose Dam. Washington has a Snake River harvest share of about 300 fish. According to a report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, those fisheries produced four chinook last week. All four were caught near Little Goose Dam.