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Upper Klickitat opening to spring chinook fishing

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.  

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.

Wash. on verge of closing Snake River chinook fishing

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.

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.

WDFW to present Tucannon River steelhead options

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 teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov  with a “Tucannon River” subject line.

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.

Spring chinook, steelhead fishing to reopen on lower Columbia River


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.

WDFW needs angler input on Snake spring chinook rules

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:

Last push of steelhead crossing Lower Granite Dam

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.

Dredging’s impact on Snake River fish quietly debated

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.”

The byproduct of such economic responsibility would be boosting endangered salmon runs with a natural, free-flowing river.

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.

Salmon, steelhead issues topic of Tri-Cities meeting

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.

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.


They’re back! Sea lions, salmon converge at Bonneville Dam

PREDATORS — It's become an annual spring event. Hungry sea lions follow endangered salmon runs up the Columbia River and feast on them at the bottom of the Bonneville Dam.

If the sea lions are caught in the act, they can be killed by state workers under a court judgment that gives priority to endangered salmon stocks.

 A campaign to stop the killing is becoming an annual tradition as well.

Methow River steelhead fishing to close Sunday

FISHING — Dang, the catching was so good, the limit of disturbance to wild fish stocks has been reached, forcing the state to announce this afternoon that fishing for steelhead and whitefish in the Methow and Chewuch rivers will close on Sunday evening.

Steelheading will continue in portions of the upper Columbia, Okanogan, Wenatchee and Similkameen rivers.

Read on for all the details just released from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It’s official: Methow steelheading opens Friday

FISHING — The Methow River in northcentral Washington will open to fishing for steelhead and whitefish on Friday (March 1), the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced moments ago.

The agency also noted that two sections of the Okanogan River will CLOSE for steelhead fishing on March 17.

Click continue reading for all the dates,  hours, rules and details about this fishery and other steelhead fisheries in the Upper Columbia region. 

Note that a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead endorsement is required in addition to a fishing license and steelhead card.

Judge rules sea lions can be targeted in Columbia River

FISHERIES – A federal judge in Oregon last week ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service did not err when it reauthorized a program targeting sea lions for death in the Pacific Northwest.

The program intended to preserve endangered salmon by killing sea lions is within the bounds of the fisheries service and states as they try to balance the proection of sea lions with the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, the court ruled, according to a story in the Oregonian.

The program was reauthorized last year, through June 2016.

The Humane Society of the United States sued, saying the program targeting sea lions is arbitrary. They say the animals consume, at most, 4 percent of the salmon coming through the Bonneville Dam. Commercial and sport fishers, by contrast, take nearly 17 percent, The Oregonian reported ( ).

However, the judge pointed out that fishery managers can scale back fishing when runs are low but can’t do the same for sea lions.

The states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho backed the plan, part of an effort to keep alive five runs of salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act that pass Bonneville, the first dam they encounter on the Columbia River.

Methow River steelhead fishing could open in March

FISHING — Washington fisheries managers are still working through the red tape surrounding the endangered stocks, but they're fairly confident they'll be able to open a fishing season for hatchery-marked steelhead in the Methow River starting in the first week of March.

The official word should be out by the end of this week or Monday, said Jeff Korth, Fish and Wildlife Department regional fisheries manager in Ephrata. 

The likely bet would be a season opening March 1 and running about two or three weeks, he said.

Spokane benefit raises $6,500 for Wild Steelhead Coalition

FISHING — A benefit auction and film showing Tuesday night in Spokane netted $6,500 for the Wild Steelhead Coalition, says Josh Mills, organizer and fly fishing blogger.

About 260 people, up from 149 in last year's debut event, paid $5 each to get into the event at the Lincoln Center, where they could have a drink, bid on prizes ranging from flies to guided steelhead trips and watch the fine and funny fly fishing video, Low and Clear.

Mills, who recruited his entire family to help put on the event, said this effort was a payback for his indelible memory of catching his first wild steelhead.

Tonight: Low and Clear film showing to benefit wild steelhead

FISHING — A zippy film, Low and Clear, — see trailer above — will show in Spokane for a benefit evening to boost the Wild Steelhead Coalition tonight (Feb. 19) at Lincoln Center in Spokane.   

Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7.

Yes, the film is about steelheading — and more. It debuted in Spokane during the Fly Fishing Film Tour a couple years ago.

The event is organized by Josh Mills of the Chucking Line and Chasing Tail blog and the Silver Bow Fly Shop.  Mills says 170 wild steelhead supporters showed up for last year's benefit.

Numerous guided fly ishing trips and other prizes are up for auction and raffles.

Steelhead fishing opens Friday on Wenatchee, Icicle rivers

FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced steelhead fishing will open on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers on Friday along with fishing for whitefish on the Wenatchee.  Following are details from the just-issued WDFW announcement.

Actions:Open the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers on Feb. 8 to fishing for steelhead.  In addition, the Wenatchee River will open Feb. 8 to fishing for whitefish. 

Species affected: Steelhead and whitefish.

Fishing area locations and effective dates:

Areas that will open to fishing for steelhead one hour before sunrise on Feb. 8 until further notice include:

  • Wenatchee River:From the mouth to 400 feet below Tumwater Dam, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.

Areas that will open to fishing for whitefish one hour before sunrise on Feb. 8 until further notice include:

  • Wenatchee River:From the mouth to the Highway 2 bridge at Leavenworth.

Reason for changes: Recent analyses of the ongoing steelhead fisheries in portions of the upper Columbia River have revealed sufficient impacts to natural origin steelhead still remain under the NOAA-issued ESA section 10 permit. Re-opening steelhead fisheries in both the Wenatchee and Icicle Rivers will help to reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, where their offspring may compete with natural origin juvenile salmon. Opening these areas to steelhead angling also allows whitefish angling opportunity. 

Areas that will continue to be closed for steelhead and whitefish angling until further notice include:

  • Mainstem Columbia River: From Wells Dam to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster.
  • Entiat River: Upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery.
  • Methow River:From the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.

General rules for all locations open to steelhead fishing:

  • Mandatory retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead, daily limit two (2) hatchery steelhead, 20 inch minimum size.  Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.  
  • Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
  • Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect.
  • Whitefish anglers must follow selective gear rules in areas open to steelhead fishing, no bait is allowed

Other angler information:

Anglers should be aware that fishing rules are subject to change and that rivers can close at any time due to impacts on natural origin steelhead.  Adhering to the mandatory retention of adipose clipped steelhead is vital in allowing the fishery to continue and to provide the maximum benefit to natural origin fish.  

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.

Reeling in the action from Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Bing

Blackwater Devil's Gold (Official Trailer) from Castaway Films on Vimeo.

FISHING — Incredible fishing sequences and photography was so common in Tuesday night's Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Bing Crosby Theater — we came to expect nothing less.  Here are my top picks in several categories:

Best action:  Blackwater Devil's Gold, fishing in Bolivia for golden dorado, one of the wildest of freshwater fish (see short trailer above, or 7-minute clip here).

Best story: Hit 'em again Doc, featuring Dr. Robert Franklin, 85, an angler with Parkinson's, and his guide.

Best fishing sequence:  Fall Run, a Pacific Northwest steelheading film with an “over the top” action footage of landing a fish in a canyon where the sun don't shine.

Best line: The intriguing thing about steelheading is that … you have to be cool with not catching them.

Lower Columbia gillnet plan could affect anglers on East Side, Idaho

FISHING — As Oregon and Washington consider banning gill nets from the lower Columbia River, some worry the move could have unintended and negative consequences on salmon fisheries in Idaho and Eastern Washington.

Check out this report by the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

Upper Columbia steelhead, whitefish season close Saturday

FISHING — Steelhead fisheries on the upper Columbia River will close one hour after sunset on Saturday (Dec. 1) from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, and Methow rivers.

Several whitefish fisheries scheduled to open that day will also close at sunset Dec. 1, including those on the Wenatchee and Entiat rivers, as well as on the Methow River downstream of the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.

Jeff Korth, Regional Fish Manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the closures are necessary to keep impacts on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The closures will not, however, affect steelhead or whitefish seasons on the mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam, or from the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries, plus steelhead and whitefish seasons on the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, will remain open until further notice under previously published rules.

Read on for more details.

Winners named in Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby

FISHING — According to unofficial results released Saturday (Nov. 24), a Clarkston man won the $2,000 grand prize at the the annual Kendall Subaru Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby that's been held Nov. 17-24 based out of Lewiston and Clarkston.

But perennial prize winner Robert Bass of Deer Park once again was a top money winner, according to the preliminary results from the  Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce.

John White of Clarkston caught a  20.07-pound steelhead on Day 2 of the derby to claim the overall winner title. The fish topped a total of 245 steelhead weighed in during the eight-day event.

Bass  caught the second-largest overall steelhead — 18.6 pounds — on Day 1 of the derby, then another 18-plus-pounder to win the daily prize for Day 3 and a 14.8-pounder to with the Day 5 daily prize.

Fishing and fishing conditions deteriorated during a week of storms and participation fell off some during the big holiday weekend.  The number of fish weighed in steadily declined during the wee with a high of 65 fison on Day one to a low of nine fish on Saturday, the last day.

As I noted in a pre-event story, the derby was extended include the Thanksgiving holiday this year as well as being expanded to include Washington waters.


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. 

Grande Ronde steelhead dwarfs typical fish

STEELHEAD FISHING — The S-R's Fishing-Hunting Report this week notes that steelhead fishing has been good on the Grande Ronde River this week.

But angler Jeff Holmes puts an exclamation point on that report with these photos and this assessment of his recent driftboat outing, which includes the thrills of seeing bighorn rams along the shores.  

A ferocious fight resulted in the eventual netting of this Grande Ronde goliath (I) caught above Boggan's Oasis while backtrolling a metallic blue size 35 Hot Shot trailing a 1/0 Gamakatsu Siwash on double split rings. 

With this being such a special fish for the Grande Ronde, stretching a hair over 34 inches and weighing 14 pounds, I thought it only appropriate to have a normal-sized human photographed with this fish, per the previous advice of WDFW's Chris Donley. 

Thanks, Teddy Schmitt, for holding this fish for me, and for outfishing me by putting three big hens in the net, including a 28 1/2-incher just moments before this one bit.

In case you don't get his humor, Holmes is a large man. He didn't want to make his huge fish look dinky in comparison by holding it for the photo. 

Holmes said Chris Donley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife inland lakes manager and steelheading expert, said he's seen only one hatchery steelhead larger than this fish come out of the Ronde.

See my column on a new steelhead fishing book that will giving you insight on how to catch more steelhead in the region's rivers.

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.