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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Heads up Clearwater anglers: spring chinook parading into Idaho

FISHING -- There's not a discouraging word to be found in the forecast, starting with this weekend, for spring chinook fishing in Idaho.

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

  •  As expected, catch rates were low for last weeks salmon opener in Idaho, as the fish were just getting here.
  • All the fish we documented being caught were around Lewiston; about 16 adult fish.
  • One fish measured 40 inches long and we heard of another that was pushing 30 pounds. 
  • By this weekend there should be 10 times as many fish in Idaho as we saw during the opener; fishing should be much better. 
  • It wouldn’t surprise me if this weekend people catch salmon in the Clearwater River upstream to Orofino and in the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam. 
  • Those of you who like to fish the Rapid River run may have to wait another week or two before the fish start arriving in catchable numbers. 
  • Clearwater river sections have been given harvest quotas developed by anglers in an effort to fairly distribute harvest throughout the different communities in the Clearwater basin. Sections can close as quotas are taken.
  • I hope you are all getting as excited as I am about this Chinook run.  My excitement certainly got the best of me as I went out and bought a new rod and have started loading up on tackle. 

Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing is based out of Clarkston, but heads to the lower Columbia River to fish for springers before they run upstream to Idaho.

"We have finished up our Columbia River spring chinook season and will be moving onto the Snake and Clearwater Rivers for this weekend," he said today. "We expect to start seeing catch rates on the Clearwater to pick up this weekend and continue to get better throughout May," 

Here's more for Wyatt's report:

"These fish were hard to catch on the Columbia this year due to the low and clear water, as they were screaming up river past our baits. Our best days we were hooking eight-nine fish.

"Salmon are piling over Bonneville Dam in great numbers and we are above our 10-year average. To date we have seen 114,000 cross Bonneville, most of these early fish are bound for the Clearwater and Salmon Rivers and their tributaries.

"Lower Granite Dam, the last dam before they reach the Clearwater has seen more than 7,300 fish. 

"The Clearwater is going to fish awesome this year with the low water."

To put the 2015 springer run into perspective from the beginning -- that is from Bonneville Dam, the first dam the fish encounter as they head up from the ocean into the Columbia 'River --  here are today's "factoids" from Joe Hymer, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon specialist in Vancouver.

Spring Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam through April 28:

  • The 114,163 adults are the 9th highest total since at least 1939.  The record is 301,293 fish in 2001.
  • If the dam counts continue to remain strong like the 17,045 adults counted yesterday, all but the record is within reach. 
  • The 1,085 jacks are the 6th highest total since at least 1980.  The record is 5,114 fish in 2000.
  • Based on the 24 four-year-old PIT tags detected at Bonneville Dam yesterday, nearly 950 of the 17,045 adults counted were originated from Carson National Fish Hatchery (on Washington's Wind River). 


Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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