Latest from The Spokesman-Review
FISHING — Some anglers are catching 10 chinook salmon a day in the Lewiston area this week in the best chinook salmon fishing season fish managers can remember. Steelheading for keepers is so-so.
The chinook salmon returns to the Snake River this fall are huge, but the steelhead returns — notably for hatchery steelhead — are sub-par.
The exception is a near-record post-dams return of small wild steelhead, according to Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.
Click "continue reading" for a detailed analysis of the two fisheries DuPont has just posted.
FISHING — As reported earlier, the Snake River boat ramp at Heller Bar upstream from Asotin is being repaired this week, just as the chinook salmon and steelhead runs are spiking over Lower Granite Dam.
While restricted access is being allowed most of the week, the boat ramp will be totally closed for use on Tuesday and Wednesday,the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.
Here are more details in a story by Eric Barker at the Lewiston Tribune:
ROGERSBURG — The busy Heller Bar boat ramp will be closed Tuesday and
Wednesday as work crews from the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife make repairs to the concrete there.
The work will start on Monday and last through next Friday on the
two-lane ramp. One lane will be open on most days, allowing boaters to
use it. However, the ramp will close entirely for the two days in the
middle of the week.
“Broken concrete sections underwater at the bottom of the ramps could
cause severe damage to boat trailers,” said Bob Dice, manager for the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Blue Mountains wildlife
areas. “Fixing this now during very low water allows our work crew
access and gets the problem fixed before water levels and the steelhead
season pick up.”
The Snake River has eroded the lower portion of the ramp and caused the
chunks to break off. Trailers can be damaged if their wheels drop off
the broken portion of the ramp when people back down it to launch or
retrieve their boats. The construction crew will remove broken sections
and replace them with 11 feet of cabled concrete blocks that will extend
across the bottom of the entire ramp.
“The ramp repair is part of a larger effort to improve overall safety
and general conditions at the Heller Bar water access area,” said Steve
Sherlock, statewide access coordinator for the department. “Other future
improvements planned for this site include expansion of boat launching
opportunities, new signs, and an information kiosk.”
Heller Bar, at the northern end of Hells Canyon, is the starting point
for jet boat trips into the canyon and the take-out point for people who
raft the Lower Salmon and Snake rivers.
It can develop into a tent and camper city when steelhead begin to pulse
upriver and collect at the mouth of the Grande Ronde River.
The ramp area is owned by the state of Washington and managed by the
FISHING — Oh, what a difference a little rain and cooler water temperatures have made to erase the thermal barrier that had been keeping steelhead and chinook salmon from progressing up the Snake River.
Graphs show the surge of each species booming up over Lower Granite Dam in the past few days en route to the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon river fisheries in Idaho.
FISHING — Meanwhile in the Snake River — anglers are praying for cooler weather and rain to break the apparent thermal block that's keeping steelhead from moving up through the Snake River past Lower Granite Dam.
FISHING — The bulk of this year's lower than average steelhead run has climbed over Bonneville Dam, the first dam they reach on the Columbia River, and all eyes are upstream.
As you can see from the charts, the fish are making their way upstream and good things are about to happen in the Lewiston-Clarkston area.
If Clearwater-Snake water temperatures cool a bit more, the number of steelhead climbing over Lower Granite should spike any day. Lower Granite is the last dam on the Snake before the fish reach Idaho waters.
Are you ready?
FISHING — Silver Bow Fly Shop is offering two classes this month at 13210 E Indiana Ave. in Spokane Valley:
- Beginner Fly Fishing, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sept. 7. $30.
- Fly Fishing for Steelhead, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Sept. 16. $20.
FISHING — Starting toaday, Sept. 1, a new fishing rule designed to protect critically low levels of wild steelhead and reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds will take effect on the Tucannon River.
An emergency rule approved today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will:
- Close the river to steelhead fishing upstream from Marengo at Turner Road Bridge and define the downstream boundary of the fishery where the Tucannon flows into the Snake River.
- Reduce the daily catch limit from three to two hatchery steelhead in the area open to fishing.
- Require anglers to keep any hatchery steelhead they intercept, and stop fishing once they catch their daily limit of two hatchery steelhead or two trout.
Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said returns of natural origin steelhead to the Tucannon River are falling short of meeting conservation goals, which could potentially affect the department's ability to open future recreational fisheries. Anglers can help by retaining every hatchery steelhead they catch, he said.
"Stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon in late summer and fall need to be removed to prevent them from spawning naturally," Mendel said. "At the same time, we need to provide a refuge area above Marengo for early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River."
In addition, barbless hooks are required when fishing for steelhead. Anglers must release any steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.
Anglers cannot remove any steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit. Chinook and coho salmon, as well as bull trout, are also present in the Tucannon River during the steelhead fishery and must be released immediately if caught, Mendel said.
The new fishing rule defines the mouth of the Tucannon River as waters "lying south of a line of sight from an orange diamond-shaped sign attached to the Hwy. 261 guard rail (northwest of the Tucannon River and adjacent to the highway rest area turn off), running southeast across to the eastern, un-submerged shoreline of the river (point of land spit)."
The large embayment between the eastern shoreline of the Tucannon River and the rock bluff to the east along the south shore of the Snake River is considered part of the Snake River, Mendel said.
Anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Tucannon River and all other tributaries and mainstem of the Snake River are required to have the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, which helps pay for monitoring the fisheries. Anglers should check the fishing regulation pamphlet for all details.
FISHING — Inland anglers seeking big fish running upstream from the ocean kick into another gear on Sunday (Sept. 1).
Click "continue reading" for details on salmon and and steelhead fisheries in Washington and Idaho from the Snake River upstream.
FISHING — The graphs indicate the promise ahead.
FISHING — Columbia River fish managers today reduced their early forecast for the steelhead run moving up the Columbia, upper Columbia and Snake Rivers.
Says Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met this morning, August 19, 2013, to review the summer steelhead run size. TAC agreed to update the “A” or small steelhead component of the run to 212,000 fish. This is a decrease from the preseason forecast of 291,000 fish. TAC reviewed but did not update other components of the steelhead run, or the fall Chinook run. TAC will meet again on August 26, 2013.
FISHING — Warming water temperatures in the Snake and Columbia rivers is catching the attention of fish scientists, especially those who support the removal of Snake River dams for the benefit of wild salmon and steelhead.
Following is the third memo in a series calling attention to the warming waters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and the impacts of those high water temperatures on migrating salmon and steelhead provided by Joseph Bogaard, deputy director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, 206-286-4455 x103; email@example.com
Summer 2013 - Hot Water Alert No. 3
Columbia and Snake River temperatures over 70 degrees for third straight week
Memo to Northwest writers, reporters, editorialists, and columnists – August 7, 2013
For the week July 29 through August 4, water temperatures were 70 degrees or higher 45 times at Columbia and Snake River federal dams passable to salmon – up from 35 readings the previous week. At three dams – The Dalles and John Day on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor on the Snake – temperatures were above 70 degrees all seven days both above and below the dams. At Ice Harbor Dam, temperatures have now been above 70 degrees for 17 consecutive days; at The Dalles and John Day, for 11 consecutive days.
The Dalles Dam(first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
70.1 F 70.2 F
70.7 F 70.7 F
70.8 F 70.9 F
Aug 1 70.6 F
Aug 2 70.1 F
Aug 3 70.2 F
Aug 4 71.1 F
John Day Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
July 29 70.9 F
July 30 70.9 F
July 31 71 F
Aug 1 70.8 F
Aug 2 70.6 F
Aug 3 70.9 F
Aug 4 71.5 F
Ice Harbor Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
July 29 71 F
July 30 70.8 F
July 31 70.8 F
Aug 1 70.6 F
Aug 2 70.4 F
Aug 3 71 F
Aug 4 70.2 F
Bonneville Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
Aug 1 70 F
Aug 4 70.3 F
The Idaho Statesman reported August 3 that hundreds of endangered sockeye and chinook salmon were trapped in July by warm water at the base of the Lower Granite Dam fish ladder on the lower Snake. Turbine adjustments and auxiliary pumps finally got the fish moving up the ladder, but the situation could be a harbinger for days and years ahead.
FISHING — The chart above gives an indication that the early stage of the steelhead run continues to trickle over Lower Granite Dam at a lower than average rate, but still with promise of good fishing.
Steelhead are moving over Bonneville Dam on the Columbia at a rate of about 4,000 fish a day and over Lower Granite upstream on the Snake at about 100 a day.
The total since July 1 at Bonneville Dam is 46,560 compared with 63,719 last year at this time. The five year average for this date is 96,469.
The total since July 1 at Lower Granite Dam is 845 compared with 1,095 last year at this time. The five year average for this date 3,709.
FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission has closed spring chinook salmon fishing on the Snake River. Here's the announcement posted this afternoon:
Action: Closes spring chinook fishing on the Snake River.
Effective date: Immediately
Species affected: Spring chinook
Near Ice Harbor Dam: Below Ice Harbor Dam from the Highway 12 bridge near Pasco upstream about seven miles to about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.
Near Little Goose Dam: Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river approximately 3.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility.
Near Clarkston: From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Washington border and boundary water marker on the north shore.
Reason for action: Based on the declining spring chinook run, catch rates and cumulative season harvest estimates in the three fishery zones on the Snake River through this past Tuesday, and fishery ESA impact limitations, this fishery will close.
FISHING — The Icicle River's fishing season for spring chinook salmon closes today an hour after sunset.
Read on for the details pertaining the closure of the Chelan County fishery from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
FISHING — Chinook salmon fishing on the South Fork Salmon River will open July 5 under a season adopted this morning by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
Fishing will be open only Fridays, Saturday and Sundays until further notice. Managers anticipate a shorter fishery on the South Fork because fewer fish are returning to Idaho than in recent years.
The South Fork will be open from the bridge on Forest Service Road 48 (Lick Creek/ East Fork South Fork Road) where it crosses the South Fork Salmon River main stem just upstream of the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 35 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap.
Fishing hours will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.
The daily bag limit will be four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults; the possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, only six of which may be adults.
Adult Chinook salmon are 24 or more inches in length, and jacks are less than 24 inches in length. Only adipose-fin-clipped salmon may be kept.
The season-statewide limit is 10 adult Chinook salmon during salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2013.
FISHING — Snake River spring chinook fishing is likely to reopen says Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish management biologist
Look for an official announcement today or tomorrow — and expect the fishing days to be different that in the original season.
Here's Mendel's update:
The Technical Advisory Committee updated the run size to 115,000 (from 107,500 when the Snake R fishery previously closed at Clarkston). The increased run size means there are a few more spring Chinook (~70) that can be harvested in the revised allotment for the Snake River.
A fishery proposal has been submitted for the Clarkston area to reopen for two days (this Friday and Saturday). Ice Harbor would open for one day next week (on Monday), and Little Goose on Tuesday. Mid next week, we would evaluate the results from those limited fisheries and determine whether they had to close, or whether they could continue on the same days as noted above the following week. Bag limits would be as they were in May (1 adult adipose clipped, and 4 adipose clipped jacks). Once the hatchery adult salmon has been retained the angler must stop fishing for salmon, regardless of whether any jacks have been kept.
Please watch for the emergency regulation and news release that announces the opening of these fisheries. Hopefully, those will be available late today or tomorrow.
FISHING — Spring chinook action is luring anglers to the Klickitat. Here the WDFW announcement many have been waiting for.
Upper Klickitat River to open for hatchery adult spring chinook
Action: Up to two hatchery adult spring chinook may be kept as part of the salmon daily limit on the Klickitat River upstream to boundary markers below the salmon hatchery.
Effective dates: June 13 through July 31, 2013.
Species affected: Chinook.
Location: The Klickitat River from 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway (located about one-half mile upstream from the Fisher Hill Bridge) to boundary markers below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.
Reasons for action: As of June 10, a total of 351 adult spring chinook have returned to the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery. The Klickitat Salmon Hatchery is expected to meet its escapement goal of 500 fish, which will allow additional recreational opportunity.
Other information: Daily limit 6 salmon of which no more than two may be adults. Wild chinook must be released. This will match rules already in effect below Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 2 miles upstream from the mouth).
Anglers are reminded there are closed waters from Fisher Hill Bridge to 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway and from the boundary markers below Klickitat Salmon Hatchery to the boundary markers just upstream of the hatchery. The section upstream from the salmon hatchery remains closed to fishing for salmon.
A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this fishery. Barbless hooks are required to fish for salmon and steelhead.
Information contact: (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.
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.
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.
FISHING — Anglers picked up enough spring chinook from the Snake River sections open to fishing in Washington over the holiday to prompt the closing of the season, which could be announced soon.
Here's the message from Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife southeast fisheries biologist:
We saw more interest in fishing the Clarkston area than we had documented in any of the previous weeks, and they caught a few fish there. This fishery remained open after the lower Snake River fisheries closed because they had not caught much earlier, they were cut off early last year so we wanted to improve the sharing of the fishing opportunities, and because there were only about 30 fish left to harvest. One day of either of the lower Snake River fisheries would likely have harvested more than 30 fish in just one day of fishing.
The total Snake River harvest brings us very close to our targeted harvest level, so we are recommending closure of the Snake River fishery at Clarkston. Therefore, we expect that it will be closed for spring Chinook harvest until next year (about late April). Watch for the emergency regulation that verifies closure of this fishery.
Note: Steelhead fishing on the Snake River starts June 16 this year, earlier for retention than in the past.
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.
FISHING — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish managers will present information and take public input on proposed Tucannon River steelhead management changes at a May 29 meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. at Dayton Elementary School (Park Street and 2nd Street) in Dayton.
New restrictions will apply to the steelhead fishery this fall and winter to comply with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) requirements to protect wild steelhead that are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, said WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel.
“We’ve already made several changes in Tucannon steelhead hatchery production and management to protect this small wild steelhead population,” Mendel said, “but we can’t maintain the current fishery structure. We don’t want to close this fishery altogether so we’re trying to craft fishing rule options that help remove hatchery steelhead while still protecting wild steelhead.”
Biologisgts will present summaries of the Tucannon River steelhead harvest, natural population estimates, and management issues involved, and take comments on several options for a restricted fishery. All options include a hatchery steelhead retention requirement to reduce hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.
Options being considered to focus on removal of hatchery steelhead while minimizing catch-and-release and incidental mortality of wild steelhead, include:
- Option 1- Allow steelhead fishing Aug.1 – Dec. 31 when 40-50 percent of the hatchery fish and only 20 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing Jan. 1 – June 7 (when trout fishing opens).
- Option 2- Allow steelhead fishing Aug. 1 or Sept.1 through Feb. 28 when 55-62 percent of the hatchery fish have entered the Tucannon River and when only 36 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing March 1 – June 7 (when trout fishing opens).
Information about these and other options will be posted online sometime after Friday.
Email input by June 7 to firstname.lastname@example.org with a “Tucannon River” subject line.
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.
FISHING — The sport fishery for hatchery spring chinook salmon and hatchery steelhead will reopen Saturday (May 25) on the lower Columbia River as fish mangers get a better bead on the run and more fish become available in the season quota.
The fishery is scheduled to run through June 15 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the river to the deadline below Bonneville Dam under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon. For boat anglers, the upriver boundary is Beacon Rock.
Anglers may retain one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.
Read on for more details.
FISHING — Anglers have until Monday to comment on proposals geared to helping them get the most out of a very limited spring chinook salmon fishing season being planned for the Snake River in late April and May.
"The 2013 run forecast is low, and following the restrictions of federal Endangered Species Act, the harvest allocation available for the Snake River is just 360 adipose-fin-clipped hatchery adults, at least until the in-season run update is available the first week of May," says John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager.
The agency is asking anglers to choose one of three options and let biologists know by email to help them make a decision that will please the most anglers.
Read on for details and the options from WDFW:
FISHING — Warm weather and spikes of river flow have spurred the last gasp of the season's steelhead spawning run up and over Lower Granite Dam.
The 4,300 steelhead over the dam since Jan. 1, is very similar to last year and the five-year average.
RIVERS – The Corps of Engineers’ plan to dredge portions of the Lower Snake River is a touchy issue politically, economically and in regard so salmon and steelhead.
I know this because none of the fisheries biologists I contacted this month would comment. They all referred me to managers who referred me to documents their agencies were filing – on or after the public comment period that ended Tuesday for environmental impact statement on the Corps’ sediment management plan,
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game submitted comments to the Governor's Office to be incorporated into a package of State comments on the draft EIS.
Dredging is proposed at three sites in Lower Granite Reservoir and below Ice Harbor Dam because sediment buildup, an expected problem associated with dams, is interfering with commercial navigation.
Sam Mace of Save our Wild Salmon, says there’s a better idea that would be cheaper and more sustainable in the long run: Breach the dams.
Maintenance and operations costs for the lower Snake River barge transportation corridor greatly exceed its economic benefits, she says.
“With a growing project backlog and deepening federal deficits, these new analyses raise serious questions about the lower Snake waterway’s economic viability, and its burden to local communities and American taxpayers.”
- Read her comment to the Corps as well as her entire message, which makes the case that farmers also would benefit from bagging the aging dams.
The byproduct of such economic responsibility would be boosting endangered salmon runs with a natural, free-flowing river.
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.
FISHING – Washington fisheries managers will explain forecasts and rules for salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia Basin in a public meeting Wednesday (March 27), 5 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Benton PUD building, 2721 W. 10th Ave. in Kennewick.
Discussion topics will range from new barbless hook requirements to pre-season forecasts, including those for salmon and steelhead upstream of McNary Dam.
This season, salmon and steelhead anglers are required to use barbless hooks on the mainstem Columbia River downstream of the Washington-Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. The rule is likely to be applied to the entire Columbia and its tributaries.
The meeting is part of the salmon season-setting process known as North of Falcon, which involves representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and recreational and commercial fishing industries. Final salmon fishing seasons will be adopted in early April at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland.
- See a meeting schedule and more information about the salmon season-setting process for Puget Sound, the Columbia River and the Washington coast.
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.