Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 55° Clear
Sports >  Outdoors

Summer chinook fishing set to open in Idaho, Oregon

UPDATED: Wed., June 15, 2022

Anglers in Idaho and Oregon will soon get a crack at line-peeling summer chinook. Just like their close cousins, spring chinook, the summer run fish are returning in numbers strong enough to allow limited harvest.  (Rich Landers)
Anglers in Idaho and Oregon will soon get a crack at line-peeling summer chinook. Just like their close cousins, spring chinook, the summer run fish are returning in numbers strong enough to allow limited harvest. (Rich Landers)
By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – Anglers in Idaho and Oregon will soon get a crack at line-peeling summer chinook.

Just like their close cousins, spring chinook, the summer run fish are returning in numbers strong enough to allow limited harvest.

In the Gem State, fishing will be allowed on the Lochsa, the south fork of the Salmon and main Salmon rivers starting Saturday. Fisheries managers project 170 to 200 adult summer chinook will be available for harvest on the Lochsa River, 1,000 on the south fork of the Salmon River and 1,400 on the upper Salmon.

Idaho’s bag limit will be four hatchery spring chinook per day with a maximum of two adult fish. Anglers on the Lochsa River, however, will be able to catch and keep chinook with both clipped and intact adipose fins. Hatchery chinook in the Snake River basin are generally marked by having their adipose fins clipped as juveniles.

“It’s a smaller fishery and they are all going to one location,” said Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of the Lochsa River. “Even though it’s not a lot of fish, if you go to that one small location you can have good success. In 2017, we had a very similar harvest share and it wasn’t unusual for some people to get their limits once they figured it out, and a limit of two summer chinook is pretty good.”

Oregon’s seasons on the Wallowa and Imnaha rivers open June 25. The Imnaha, which flows north out of the eastern end of the Wallowa Mountains to join the Snake River in Hells Canyon, will be open from its mouth to Summit Creek Bridge. It closes July 10. The Wallowa River, a tributary of Grande Ronde River that also has headwaters in the snow-capped peaks of the Wallowa Range, will be open through July 25.

Both rivers will have a bag limit of two hatchery chinook per day and up to five hatchery jacks. It’s the first time the rivers have been open to chinook fishing since 2016.

“All current projections indicate this year’s run will exceed our preseason forecast and provide an opportunity to harvest spring chinook locally,” said Kyle Bratcher, district fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at Enterprise, in a news release. “In the past, these have been popular fisheries and we’re glad to see numbers that allow anglers to get out there.”

Summer chinook in the Snake River basin return to freshwater about a month behind spring chinook. Fisheries managers often lump the two runs together as a single species. The Snake River summer run is different from summer chinook that return to the upper Columbia River. Those fish return even later, spawn in bigger river systems and outmigrate as juveniles the same year they emerge from the gravel, DuPont said.

Summer chinook in the Snake River basin, just like spring chinook, spawn in small tributary streams or the upper reaches of main rivers and their offspring outmigrate to the ocean after spending about one year in freshwater.

Most of Idaho’s spring chinook fisheries remain open. The exception is the previously closed section of the lower Salmon River between Rice Creek Bridge and Hammer Creek. The lower portion of the Clearwater River, from the Railroad Bridge at Lewiston to Cherrylane Bridge, known as section 1 in fishing regulations, will close at the end of fishing hours Sunday.

According to the latest projections, the harvest share on the Clearwater River and its tributaries is 5,200 adult chinook and the harvest share for the Rapid River run is about 3,600. Both numbers are down from previous projections of about 6,000 and 3,740, respectively. DuPont said the shares dropped because of lower-than-expected survival of adult chinook between Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River and Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River.

By court precedent, returning salmon and steelhead that are surplus to spawning needs are divided evenly between tribal and nontribal anglers. That number is known as a harvest share.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.