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Idaho reopening Little Salmon for spring chinook

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today voted to reopen the Little Salmon River to fishing for Chinook salmon effective Friday, June 7.

  • The Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and South Fork Clearwater rivers are closed to Chinook salmon fishing, effective immediately.
The Little Salmon will open from a posted boundary about 50 yards upstream of the Little Salmon River mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
 
The season is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until further notice. Fishing hours are from 5:05 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Mountain Standard Time.
 
The daily limit is four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults; the possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, only six of which may be adults. The statewide season limit is 10 adult Chinook during any salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2013.
 
Any adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon 24 or more inches in total length is an adult. Jacks are less than 24 inches in length. Only adipose-fin-clipped Chinook may be kept.
 
For details about open areas and limits in these fisheries see the Fish and Game website.

Extending spring chinook season priority in Idaho

FISHING — Here's the latest news for Idaho spring chinook anglers regarding the status of the season — just received via email from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:

The majority of anglers have repeatedly told us that the most important thing to them regarding the Chinook season is to extend the season as long as possible.  For this reason, we have decided to make some rules changes to the Chinook salmon rules on the Salmon River.  

Starting on Monday morning (June 3, 2013), between the Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek (Park Hole Area), no harvest of adults will be allowed.  You will still be allowed to harvest up to 4 Jacks (< 24 inches) daily in this reach of river. 

The area that will be closed to the harvest of adults includes the entire reach of the Salmon River from Time Zone Bridge to the posted sign at Shorts Creek.   This reach includes popular holes such as Race Creek, the Park Hole, the Post Office Hole, the Confluence, the Mill Hole, Shorts Creek and anything in between. 

Our hopes are that with these new rules we can extend the season for at least 2 more weekends.  Only time will tell just how long the season lasts. 

I know for some of you who like to fish the Park Hole area, you may not be happy with these changes.  Recognize, however, that with these rules it may provide a unique experience where you can fish in less crowded conditions in an area with high catch rates, and if you eventually want to catch an adult there are other areas you can go to fish. 

It is important to realize that if you catch one adult in another reach of river where adult harvest is allowed, you cannot have this fish in close possession and fish the Park Hole.    In other words, if you catch 1 adult (remember if you catch 2 adults you are done fishing for the day) and you want to fish the Park Hole do not bring that fish near the Park Hole where one could assume you caught it there.  Drop if off at camp, at your home, or someplace away from where you are fishing. 

The rules in all other areas in the Clearwater Region have not changed through this weekend.  

“There is no season limit on jacks,” he said.

Spring chinook angling hot in Idaho

FISHING — Anglers had very good success rates for spring chinook in Idaho waters upstream from Lewiston last week with catch rates below 10/hrs a fish in the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers. 

Check out the following detailed Clearwater Region salmon update for the week of May 20-27, by Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game's regional fisheries manager in Lewiston: 

First, the majority of Chinook destined for release sites in the Clearwater Region appear to have mostly passed over Lower Granite Dam.  Some Chinook are stuck behind a couple of the dams.  Once these fish figure their way out, Idaho's harvest shares should go up some, but not a lot.  We are estimating that our harvest share for the Clearwater River will end up around 600 fish.  

Clearwater River drainage (only the harvest of Jacks are allowed):  The most Jacks were harvested in the Clearwater River near Dworshak Hatchery although the best catch rates (3 hrs/fish) occurred near Kooskia Hatchery in the Middle Fork Clearwater River (a lot of adults were caught and released there). We are very close to our harvest share of adults in the Clearwater River.  We still have some harvest share remaining so the fishery will remain open with the same rules this coming weekend as we had last week.  (Open Friday – Monday; Jacks only; Jack limit 4; same areas open to fishing).  Harvest this coming weekend and how much the harvest share changes will dictate how long the season will remain open.  

Salmon River area fishing was very good as well last week.  Early in the week most fish were being harvested downstream of Time Zone Bridge; however, by the weekend fishing picked up considerably in Park Hole (between Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek).  People are now reporting that fishing is good in both the Park Hole and  Little Salmon River.  With good flow conditions and a bunch of adults reaching the Riggins area, I expect fishing to be excellent this week.  It would not be unexpected if over 1,000 adults were harvested this week.  The only thing I could see that would slow down the fishery is if it rained like crazy and muddied up the river. 

Now is the time to fish the Rapid River run.  Due to the expected high harvest, we are currently having discussions on how to prolong this fishery and make sure we don’t go over our harvest share in the future.

Hells Canyon fishery was also very good with catch rates running at 7 hrs/fish.   Our anticipated harvest share for this fishery is 336 fish, and last week we estimated we harvested 132 adults bringing the total adult harvest to 183 fish.  I expect another good week of fishing at Hells Canyon Dam.

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.

Clearwater chinook fishing too hot; adult harvest curtailed

FISHING — Good conditions and a surge of fish into Idaho's Clearwater River provided excellent fishing for spring chinook over the weekend, as predicted.

But the turnout was so heavy and the fishing was so good, anglers virtually caught their entire meager allotment of this year's spotty run in one swoop.

Idaho Fish and Game has closed the river to fishing for adult spring chinook after anglers caught about 540 mature salmon over four days. The estimated season harvest share is about 640 fish.

The good news is that when the season on the Clearwater reopens on Friday (May 24) anglers will continue to have good fishing for a big run of about 4,000 jacks.

Read on for details and more explanation from Joe DuPont, IFG regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:

Idaho expands chinook fishing on Clearwater

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today  (May 16) expanded Chinook salmon fishing to include additional reaches of the Clearwater main stem and South Fork Clearwater rivers.

The Clearwater River main stem is open from the Camas Prairie railroad bridge at Lewiston upstream to the Cherry Lane Bridge and from the Lenore Bridge upstream to the Highway 11 Greer Bridge. The South Fork Clearwater Riveris open from its mouth upstream to the confluence of the American and Red rivers.

Fish and Game asked commissioners to delay a decision on Chinook fisheries in the upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers to early June when fish managers will have a better idea of how many fish are heading for those waters.

“The fishing should be good tomorrow (Friday) as the river is clearing, flows are dropping, and lots of fish are passing over Lower Granite Dam,” said Joe DuPont, IFG regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.   

Read on for details on all the areas open for spring chinook:

Idaho spring chinook bite coming on

FISHING — The long-term news is not great, but in the short term anglers should be prepared this weekend to take advantage of spring chinook streaming into Idaho waters.

  • Fish have already started showing up at most Idaho salmon hatcheries. 
  • A couple adult chinook were caught all the way upstream at Hells Canyon Dam last week.
  • PIT-tag arrays indicate fish are beginning to move into the South Fork Clearwater River.  
  • Jacks, which are coming in big numbers, have started hitting the Clearwater River.

Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager just posted an update on all the details. In addition to the above details, he gives the sobering news that last week's surge of salmon hundreds of miles downstream into the mouth of the Columbia has pooped out. 

As the Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners prepare to set chinook seasons during a Thursday meeting in Coeur d'Alene, read on for some of the data they'll be working with, as summarized by DuPont:

Spring chinook jack count near record pace

FISHING — On Tuesday, anglers got a heads up from an Idaho fisheries manager that jack counts were the highlight of this year's spring chinook run.

He wasn't kidding.

Washington Fish and Wildlif Department fisheries manager Joe Hymer in Vancouver points out that through May 9 the total of 18,032 spring chinook jacks counted at Bonneville Dam is only 97 fish off the record count for the same day logged in 2009.

That year ar record of nearly 82,000 jacks were counted through June 15 (the end of the spring Chinook count at the dam). 

So we're on a possible record pace.

Jacks are good eating… and the future for adult returns is bright.

Idaho spring chinook run offers more optimism

FISHING — Things are looking somewhat better, according to a just-posted report on the run of spring chinook salmon headed for Idaho waters.

Here's what Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game's regional fisheries manager in Lewiston, has to say:

I would say that things are looking better this week than last.  For the Clearwater River drainage, it looks like our harvest share will be somewhere between 300 and 1,000 adult fish (see last two columns in the table below).  If this trend continues it may allow us to expand the area we have open to fishing.  The Commission will be meeting next week on May 16 and will likely make a decision on this.  For the Riggins area fishery, it looks like the harvest share will end up somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 adult fish. 

The exciting news is the Jacks are starting to pour over Bonneville Dam like we have never seen before.  In my glance over past year’s data, it looks like the only year when we had more Jacks over by this date was 2000, and that was a really early run year.  If this continues, the Jacks should provide an excellent fishery especially seeing they tend to be easier to catch than the adults.  The Commission may also look at Jack limits during their meeting next week as well. 

To date, the only place we have documented harvest of Chinook salmon is in the lower Clearwater River.  Based on our creel surveys, we estimated that 6 adults were harvested since the season started.  In the future I will also provide a table that shows how many fish were harvested in different reaches so you all can follow along to see where the fishing is good and how close we may be to closing down harvest in various reaches. 

Right now decent numbers of Chinook salmon are starting to come over Lower Granite Dam so I suspect fishing will get much better during the next four day stretch on the Clearwater River assuming the river stays fishable.  The rivers are all supposed to rise due to these warm temperatures we are experiencing.  We have already collected one Chinook salmon at the Rapid River trap so I suspect some fish will be caught over the next week in the Riggins area assuming the river remain fishable.

Fish should also start showing up at Hells Canyon Dam and I expect a few will be caught there over the next week as well.  As a reminder, the Cleawater River drainage is only open to Chinook fishing 4 days a week (Friday through Monday) whereas the Riggins area and Hells Canyon fisheries are open 7 days a week. 

Idaho chinook salmon fishing opens May 4

FISHING — Idaho will open a spring Chinook salmon fishing season on Saturday, May 4, on parts of the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers, according to rules adopted today by the state Fish and Game Commission.

Fish counts from Bonneville Dam suggest that the 2013 return of Chinook salmon to Idaho may be significantly lower than forecast but large enough to support fisheries. Projected returns for the Clearwater River are farther below forecast levels than returns to the Salmon and Snake rivers.

Fish and Game tailored the 2013 fisheries proposals to meet hatchery broodstock needs, focus fishing efforts in areas where hatchery fish are most abundant, and still allow fishing in river reaches that anglers have grown accustomed to fishing in recent years.

The proposal for the Clearwater River approved by the commission achieves these goals by limiting fishing to four days per week and reducing the length of river open to fishing in each of the recently fished sections.

Only the Lochsa River is closed entirely to fishing.

Salmon returns to the Salmon and Snake rivers do not appear to be as far below forecast levels as those to the Clearwater. Fisheries in the Lower Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers are similar to fisheries in recent years. These areas will be open seven days a week, and river sections recently fished will not be shortened – except the Shorts Bar to Vinegar Creek stretch of the lower Salmon River, which is closed.

Read on for details on Idaho areas open and closed to fishing.

Snake spring chinook season opens today, but still pending in Idaho

FISHING — As Washington is opening limited spring chinook salmon fishing seasons on specified stretches of the Snake River this weekend (see details here), Idaho has set April 30 as the day fish managers will meet to decide on seasons.

Here's today's update from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Commission will be meeting on April 30 to set our spring Chinook salmon seasons. 

Since Monday, the number of Chinook salmon passing over Bonneville Dam has certainly picked up and not surprisingly so have the number of PIT-tagged fish destined for Idaho.   

If you look at the table above, notice that the total number of Chinook salmon that we project to pass over Bonneville Dam in almost all cases is higher than what I showed you on Monday.  There is still a big gap between what we project the harvest share will be with an average versus late run timing, so we aren’t out of the woods yet.  However, it is looking more promising.

Idaho postpones spring chinook season setting

SALMON FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has canceled its meeting set for today to set spring chinook salmon seasons because too few fish have made it over Bonneville Dam to predict the run into Idaho.

Here's the explanation, just received from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission was scheduled to meet today to set the spring Chinook Salmon season and limits.  Due to the low number of PIT-tagged fish that have passed over Bonneville Dam (as of April 21, 2013), we felt it was too early to project how many salmon would eventually make it to Idaho.  As a result, this commission meeting was cancelled, and we will likely announce later this week when the commission will reconvene to set the salmon season and limits. 

I have provided the table (above) so you all can view the data we are working with that the will be used to estimate the number of fish that are destined for Idaho and eventually be used to set the Chinook salmon season and limits.  I want you to focus on the last two columns of this table which summarizes how many fish would be available for harvest based on whether the run has an average timing or late timing. 

For a Idaho spring Chinook run that has an average timing, about 30% of the run should have passed over Bonneville Dam by now.  If this run has an average timing, you can see that it will be very weak and we won’t even have enough fish coming to Idaho to meet brood needs.  For an Idaho spring Chinook run that has a late timing, less than 15% of the run should have passed over Bonneville Dam by now which means there will be a lot more to come.  If the run is late, we are projecting there would be enough to have a fishery across the Clearwater Region.  So, as you can see, it didn’t make much sense for the Commission to meet when there is so much uncertainty with how many fish will actually make it to Idaho. 

Let’s all hope that the run is late and there will be enough coming to Idaho to have a fishery. 

Stay tuned for more info to come next week. 

An Idaho Fish and Game Commission teleconference to set 2013 salmon fishing seasons has been rescheduled for April 30.

Steelheading remains good on Idaho rivers

FISHING — Steelhead have been working their way into tributaries as they near their spawning areas after a long migration that started last year. Many anglers love this time of year, when the fish are more accessible in the smaller streams.

Recent angler surveys show catch rates to be 11 hours per fish caught on the Salmon River upstream of the East Fork, 17 hours per fish caught on the Little Salmon River, and 8 hours per fish caught on the South Fork Clearwater River, the Idaho Fish and Game Department says.

Steelhead fishing is considered very good anytime catch rates are lower than 20 hours per fish caught.    

The spring harvest season closes March 31 on the Salmon River from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek – three-quarters of a mile upstream from the Middle Fork Salmon River.

But anglers can continue fishing through April 30 in most other steelhead waters, except the Little Salmon River, which stays open until May 15.

Other open waters include:

Snake Riverfrom the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.

Clearwater RiverMainstem and Middle Fork from its mouth upstream to Clear Creek.

North Fork Clearwater Riverfrom its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam.

South Fork Clearwater Riverfrom its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.

Salmon Riverfrom its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir near Stanley.  Except the reach from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, which closes March 31.

Spring steelhead limits are three fish per day and nine in possession with no more than 20 fish for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch and release.

Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar. All other steelhead must be released immediately.

Consult Idaho's 2013-2015 fishing rules book for special restrictions and limits.

Idaho has required a valid 2013 fishing license and steelhead permit since Jan. 1 in order to fish for steelhead.

Upper Columbia steelhead forecast buoys anglers

FISHING — The steelhead forecast for the Columbia and Snake rivers — just released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife — calls for a sizeable increase in the number of fish that provided great fishing last summer in the upper Columbia River.

Joe Hymer, the WDFW salmon-steelhead monitor in Vancouver, release a fact sheet noting that 339,000 upriver summer steelhead are predicted to return to the Columbia River this year, about 110,000 more than returned in 2012.

The forecast calls for:

  • 291,000 A-runs (compared with 311,800 forecast in 2012 and 192,200 actural returns) 
  • 31,600 B-runs primarily bound for Idaho's Clearwater River (compared with 52,800 forecast and 27,700 actual returns in 2012)
  • 16,600 Skamanias, fish that return to the Columbia Gorge, Deschutes River and on upstream to Columbia tributaries in Okanogan County as well as into the Snake bound for Central Idaho (compared with 15,700 forecast and 10,900 actual returns in 2012).

See the attached document for the latest forecast for spring chinook (not looking so good), summer chinook (looking better than last year) sockeye (less than half of last year's bumper crop but still decent) and steelhead.


Documents:

Spring chinook forecast causing Idaho to be conservative

FISHING — Jacks, the overly eager salmon that return from the ocean before they have grown to full size, could be the saving grace of spring chinook fishing on the Clearwater River.

This year’s return of spring chinook to the Clearwater and its tributaries is predicted to be just over the threshold needed to hold a fishing season, write's Eric Barker in the Lewiston Tribune. 

Fisheries managers are expecting the state’s harvest share could be as low as 300 adults. For context, last year the state had a harvest share of about 5,000 adults on the Clearwater.

Because of the low return, biologists are proposing to start with conservative regulations and expand fishing opportunities if the run comes in as strong or stronger than forecasted.

Idaho Fish and Game fishery personnel have set up meetings to present the latest information on this year’s chinook salmon runs and discuss stratgies for managing the runs in the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers.

The meetings begin at 6 a.m. as follows:

  • Lewiston: Monday (March 4) at Idaho Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th St.
  • Orofino: Tuesday (March 5), IDFG Clearwater Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Dr., located northwest of Ahsahka Bridge.
  • Riggins: Wednesday (March 6 at 6 p.m. Mountain Time), Best Western Salmon Rapids Lodge, 1010 S. Main St.

Comments also can be emailed to Joe DuPont, fisheries manager in Lewiston, joe.dupont@idfg.idaho.gov.

Read on for more spring chinook details and proposals from the Lewistown Tribune story.

Idaho meeting focuses managing chinook rules

FISHING — Idaho Fish and Game fishery personnel has set up meetings to present the latest information on this year’s chinook salmon runs and discuss stratgies for managing the runs in the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers.

The meetings begin at 6 a.m. as follows:

  • Lewiston: Monday (March 4) at Idaho Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th St.
  • Orofino: Tuesday (March 5), IDFG Clearwater Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Dr., located northwest of Ahsahka Bridge.
  • Riggins:  Wednesday (March 6 at 6 p.m. Mountain Time), Best Western Salmon Rapids Lodge, 1010 S. Main St.

Comments also can be emailed to Joe DuPont, fisheries manager in Lewiston, joe.dupont@idfg.idaho.gov.

North Fork Clearwater River mining challenged

FISHING — Idaho fly fishers and conservation groups are stepping up to back the Clearwater National Forest in challenging the rash of placer mining claims being filed for the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

A stream known for its native bull trout and westslope cutthroats is being seen as a honey-hole for miners with suction dredges.  At least 36 mining claims have been filed along a 30-mile stretch of the river.

Tell that to your egg-sucking leech.

Kudos to the Kelly Creek Fly Casters and the Friends of the Clearwater for joining the cause. The Forest Service will need all the help it can get.  

A relatively small number of miners have legal rights to dredge for gold — and screw with the attraction for thousands of recreationists — based on the Mining Rights Restoration Act of 1955 and the archaic Mining Act of 1872.

But at least the laws give the Forest Service the ability ask for a hearing before the Interior Board of Land Appeals to determine if placer mining will interfere with other uses.

If you were on the North Fork last summer and saw the “keep away from private property” signs along riverside claims, you got just a surface hint of what could come.

Shorter Idaho chinook fishing season in the forecast

SALMON FISHING — Chances for a long chinook salmon fishing season with liberal limits next spring are looking slim in the Snake and Clearwater rivers, reports Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Fisheries managers from state, tribal and federal agencies are predicting 141,400 spring chinook bound for tributaries above Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River will return at least as far as the mouth of the Columbia. That includes 58,200 chinook bound for the Snake River and its tributaries like the Salmon and Clearwater rivers.

If the forecast proves accurate, it would be the lowest return since 2007 when only 86,000 upriver spring chinook returned to the Columbia and similar to 2006 when the mouth of the Columbia saw a return of 132,600 spring and summer chinook. The Snake River component of the 2006 run was 53,200. Fishing in Idaho was limited to four days a week that year and the harvest quota was about 800 fish for the Clearwater River and around 1,330 on the lower Salmon River.

Read on for more details from Barker's report.

Region’s steelheading briefly subdued by rain

FISHING — Rain has fouled most of the region's rivers, setting anglers back a bit until the waters clear.

But the fish were there over the weekend before the flows picked up, and there will still be plenty of fish around when flows ease.

The exception is the Salmon River near Riggins, which was running at ideal flows and 43 degrees this morning, says Amy Sinclair, riverescape@frontier.com, of Exodus River Expeditions.

Here's a weekend Grande Ronde river drift boat report from angler Jeff Holmes:

15 takedowns for 6 fish Saturday, 5 wild. Another fish, probably a big wild one, fried my drag and broke me off! Pretty good action on 8-pound average fish. Hatchery fish was a nice 8 pounder, too.

Dying spring chinook are VERY. Numerous, much more so than in past. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists) say there may be a season soon.

Meanwhile, at the Clearwater Snake River Steelhead Derby, only 28 steelhead were caught today, Day 4 of the event that runs through Nov. 24.  That's down from 62 on Saturday, the first day of the event, 50 fish weighed on Sunday and 35 fish on Monday.

By the way, angler Robert Bass of Deer Park, continues to be a regular fixture at the top of the daily money winners — as he has for years. He's already weighed-in two steelhead over 18 pounds. Bass is a steelheading stud. 
  

Pro angler to speak at steelhead derby opening ceremony

FISHING — Anglers registered for the annual steelhead fishing derby on the Clearwater and Snake Rivers will be given food, prizes and information at the opening ceremonies on Friday (Nov. 16) in Lewiston.

Activities that formerly were split at the beginning and end of the derby will combined in the opening event of the 2012 Kendall Subaru Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby, organizers say.

As this advance story revealed, the event itself has a pair of new twists that will please traveling anglers, especially those from Washington.

Prizes, including a guided fishing trip and a $1,000 Cabela's gift card, will be awarded Opening Ceremony, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday at Kendall Subaru. Registered anglers also get dinner and they can purchase additional meals for their non-fishing guests.

Chevy USA is flying Pro Angler, Dion Hibdon, from Missouri to speak on fishing techniques.

Derby registration forms are available at Tri-State Outfitters, Camp, Cabin, and Home, Riverview Marina, at the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce or online.

Anglers will receive a complimentary Mag Lip 3.5 lure when registering for the derby.

Info: Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce,509.758.7712.

Clearwater-Snake Steelhead Derby returns to Thanksgiving

By popular demand, the annual Kendall Subaru Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby will be held Nov. 17-24 to allow anglers to take advantage of a national holiday — Thanksgiving.

In addition, the 2012 Kendall Subaru Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby will include Washington waters.

Adding miles of new water should help boost entries in the event organized by the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce. Chamber officials obtained a permit from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to make the change.

 The fishing contest will extend westward and include the portion of the Snake River that’s solely in Washington. In past years, anglers were allowed to fish only in Idaho waters. That rule eliminated popular spots west of the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, such as the mouth of Steptoe Canyon, which is known for harboring large fish.

 The old boundaries also spawned rumors of some anglers cheating by entering fish that were caught downriver.

Adding Washington waters allows The Waters Edge tackle shop in Clarkston to participate as a weigh station.

“I bet you see participation up 200 to 300 people from what it has been the last three years,” Randy Krall, owner of the Lewiston tackle shop Camp, Cabin and Home, told the Lewiston Tribune. “We think the chamber has done a really good job and we appreciate them listening to our concerns.”

Information about the tournament is available from Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce, (509) 758-7712.

Steelhead harvest season opens Monday on Clearwater

FISHING – The fall steelhead harvest season opens in the Clearwater River drainage on Monday (Oct 15) with a few twists in the fishing rules from previous seasons.

The seasons opens on the main stem of the Clearwater River above the Memorial Bridge, the South Fork Clearwater River, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam and the Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek.

The steelhead harvest season on lower Clearwater and Snake rivers already is open.

The limits on the Clearwater are two a day and six in possession while the limits on the Snake and Salmon rivers are three a day and nine in possession.

Only steelhead with a hatchery-clipped adipose fin may be kept.

New rules that took effect last year allow anglers to transport anadromous salmon and steelhead without the head and tail attached. However:

  • The fish must be recorded on the angler’s salmon or steelhead permit.
  • The processed fish must have the skin attached, including the portion with a healed, clipped adipose fin scar.
  • Fish must be packaged in a way that the number of harvested fish can be determined.
  • The fish must be processed ashore when the angler is done fishing for the day.
  • No processed salmon or steelhead may be transported by boat.
  • No jack salmon may be processed in the field.
  • Processed salmon or steelhead count toward an angler’s possession limit while in the field or in transit.

See Idaho Fish and Game’s “How to fish for steelhead” videos.

Steelhead run spikes over Lower Granite Dam

FISHING — Get your hooks sharpened in the Lewiston-Clarkston area for th big spike of steelhead that's moved over Lower Granite Dam in the past two days — nearly 3,000 on Wednesday alone.

Where they’re biting: Latest Idaho fishing reports

FISHING — According to last year and the averages from recent years, anglers can soon expect a spike of steelhead to start pouring over Lower Granite Dam and up the Snake River into Idaho. I mean any day. Get ready.

But the action wasn't heavy yet on Monday morning at the mouth of the Clearwater River at Lewiston.

A fishing friend who was there filed this report:

  • 20 boats and 11 shore fishers. 5 salmon caught and 1 steelhead kept. I got one of the salmon. A jack.
  • Clearwater temp at the RR bridge was 50.3 at 0430 and 50.8 at 11AM.
  • I fished from early till 1430.

Meanwhile, here' s the latest Idaho Fish and Game Department report of highlights from the Idaho Panhandle:

Lake Coeur d’Alene: Kokanee are becoming more abundant and smallmouth bass are going strong on the lake. Anglers recommend trolling for the kokanee but smallmouth are holding near the shoreline—try twin-tailed grubs or tube jigs to entice the smallmouth. Look for Kokanee in the Arrow Point area in the north of the lake; in the south end try Powder Horn Bay. Most of the kokanee are 35-45 feet down. Pike are sticking around the bays on the lake. Spinnerbaits, spoons and husky jerks are attracting the pike.

Fernan Lake: The Panhandle Health District lifted the health advisory on Hayden Lake on August 23. The lake is safe again for fishing and swimming. Bass in the lake will stay deeper during the day, but you can use surface lures in the evening.

Coeur d’Alene River and St. Joe River: Fish these rivers with dry flies such as hoppers, beetles and ant patterns which have been effective on both rivers. You are more likely to find fish in the tailouts with the cooler temps on the St. Joe River.

The Clark Fork River is also a good option for the next couple of weeks now that temps have dropped…bugs will be moving again.

The chain lakes have been very good for pike and bass

Hauser, Cocolalla and Fernan lakes have also been good fishing for crappie, pike, bass and trout.

Graph shows steelhead still stalled in Columbia

FISHING — With steelhead counts on the downward trend at Bonneville Dam, the first dam they reach from the ocean on their upstream migrations, they haven't even started to rise out of double digits over Lower Granite Dam, the last dam they cross before hitting the Grande Ronde River and Idaho.

Could this be a year for another big late August-early September spike over Lower Granite?

Idaho fall chinook fishing opens Sept. 1

SALMON FISHING — A fishing season for fall chinook salmon will open Sept. 1 in the Snake and Clearwater rivers under rules adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

The harvest season will continue until further notice or Oct. 31, whichever comes first, in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.

Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam, the last of four federal dams on the lower Snake River on their way back to Idaho.

Read on for details.

Salmon limits to drop on Clearwater River

SALMON FISHING — Effective Saturday, June 2, the bag limits on adult chinook salmon will be reduced for parts of the Clearwater drainage.

The new bag limits will be four salmon per day, but only one may be an adult, and 12 in possession, but only three may be adults. Adults are 24 or more inches in length.

Anglers have caugh about 30 percent of their quota for the Clearwater, and anglers and fish managers want to slow the rate so fishing can continue into July.

All other rules and seasons remain unchanged.

Read on for details.

Idaho steelheading continues; note new rules this year

FISHING — Idaho's steelhead harvest season continues on the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon and lower Snake rivers with some new rules that went into effect Aug. 1.
 
 
In case you didn't catch on to them, the new rules allow anglers to transport anadromous salmon and steelhead without the head and tail attached – but only under a number of conditions:
  • The fish must be recorded on the angler’s salmon or steelhead permit.
  • The processed fish must have the skin attached, including the portion with a healed, clipped adipose fin scar.
  • It must be packaged in a way that the number of harvested fish can be determined.
  • The fish must be processed ashore when the angler is done fishing for the day.
  • No processed salmon or steelhead may be transported by boat.
  • No jack salmon may be processed in the field.
  • Processed salmon or steelhead count toward an angler’s possession limit while in the field or in transit.
The steelhead limit on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon is three a day and nine in possession. The limit on the Clearwater is two fish per day and six in possession. Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.
 
Idaho waters open for steelhead harvest are:
  • Boise River from its mouth upstream to Barber Dam.
  • Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream from the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
  • Little Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
  • Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.
  • Clearwater Rivermainstem and Middle Fork from its mouth upstream to Clear Creek.
  • North Fork Clearwater Riverfrom its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater Riverfrom its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, except on the Boise River, and they may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released immediately.
 
Click here for more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho.

Idaho chinook harvest season closes Monday

FISHING — Salmon fishing in Idaho will be over for the year when the fall chinook harvest season on the Snake and Clearwater rivers ends Monday (Oct. 31).

The season opened Sept. 1 on the Snake River between Lewiston and Hells Canyon Dam and, this year, in the lower Clearwater River downstream of the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge in Lewiston.

As of Oct. 24, Idaho Fish and Game officials reported that anglers had caught 15 marked adults and 19 jacks and caught and released 51 unmarked fish in the lower Clearwater River.

On the Snake River, anglers caught and kept 151 adults and 375 jacks for a total of 560 fish. Hatchery-origin fish are marked with a clipped adipose fin.

This year, more than 25,000 fall adult and 19,000 jack chinook salmon crossed Lower Granite Dam.

Idaho has its own version of Lake Rufus Woods rainbows

FISHING —  Pigs. 

That's the best way to  describe the North Fork of the Clearwater rainbow trout that have tuned in to the feast of kokanee that come over and down through Dworshak Dam.

Read on for the story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.