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Idaho Fish and Game

Fish caught in the North Fork

Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing Update 6/11/2024: Rapid River Run, Hells Canyon, and Clearwater River Fisheries


by Joe DuPont

Hi everybody.

It is time for my weekly spring Chinook Salmon update (June 11, 2024).  There is only one closure this week – the Clearwater River between Cherrylane Bridge and Orofino Bridge. Please read the Clearwater River Fishery section below if this is an area you like to fish. 


The run of Idaho-bound spring Chinook Salmon past Bonneville Dam for all practical purposes is complete. For the past week, almost all the fish passing over Bonneville Dam have been summer run fish (both Idaho and Columbia summers), so I don’t really have any new information to share with you on this front. As such, I am going to jump right to our estimated harvest shares. The table below now estimates harvest shares based on PIT tagged fish that have passed over Lower Granite Dam. We can use data from Lower Granite Dam now because almost all of the fish destined for Idaho’s spring Chinook Salmon fisheries have passed over this dam. Now that we are able to use data from Lower Granite Dam, our harvest share estimates are more accurate. We expect a few more PIT tagged fish to pass over Lower Granite Dam, but don’t expect any significant changes in these harvest shares in the future. Based on this data, the adult harvest share for Clearwater River Return fishery is 4,321 adult fish (darker peach row), 2,325 for the Rapid River run fishery (darker blue row), and 794 for the Hells Canyon fishery (green row).

Harvest shares for the Clearwater Region salmon fisheries 6-11-24


Clearwater River Basin Fishery

There was an overall drop in harvest last week (compared to the previous week) in the Clearwater River basin’s fishery (see Table below). The reason for this is because harvest declined considerably in the Clearwater River downstream of Orofino Bridge (River Section 2) and the North Fork Clearwater River (River Section 3). However, harvest did pick up in the Middle Fork Clearwater River (River Section 5) and in the South Fork Clearwater River (River Sections 7 and 8). Catch rates we decent in most river sections ranging from 10-15 hrs/fish. 

Weekly chinook harvest in the Clearwater 6-11-2024

As of last Sunday (Jun 9, 2024), we estimate that a total of 3,466 adult fish have been harvested from the Clearwater River basin. That brings us about 80% of the way to our harvest share leaving about 855 more fish to be harvested. We estimate that 202 adult fish were harvested last week from river Section 2 bringing its total to 1,095 fish (25% of the harvest share). At this point, we think enough extra harvest has occurred there that the other river sections will be able to pick up most of the remaining harvest share. For that reason, we will be closing down river Section 2 (Clearwater River from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge) to all Chinook Salmon Fishing this Friday (June 14, 2024) at the end of fishing hours. All other river sections in the Clearwater River basin will remain open for at least another week.

The increase in discharge from Dworshak Dam to around 9,700 cfs last week helps explain why harvest dropped in the North Fork Clearwater River. Discharge today (June 11, 2024) dropped to around 4,200 cfs. I’m not certain whether discharge will remain at this level when the fishery reopens, but if it does, it should improve the fishing conditions. I suspect fishing will remain good this week in the Middle Fork Clearwater River (River Section 5). Interestingly, not many of these fish are entering the Kooskia Hatchery Trap which means they are staying out in the river where they can be caught. For those who like to fish the South Fork Clearwater River, there are PIT tagged fish still crossing over the lower PIT arrays near Stites which means fish will be scattered throughout this river. However, the larger numbers passed over these PIT arrays over 5 days ago which means the best fishing will be had further upriver. 

Rapid River Run Fishery

Last week, we estimated that 431 adult fish were caught from the Rapid River Run fishery (see Table below). We estimated that 241 were caught in the Salmon River between Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek and 190 were harvested in the Little Salmon River. Cath rates ranged from 11 to 17 hrs/fish. I expected more harvest to occur last week, but it seems that higher flows and cooler water temperatures may have made a difference. The forecast is for flows to drop and water temperature rise which should provide good fishing conditions when the fishery reopens. Right now (June 11, 2024), we estimate that 1,212 adult fish have been harvested from this fishery leaving another 1,113 to go. Additionally, we estimate that 934 fish (40% of the harvest share) have been harvested from the lower Salmon River leaving 345 fish before it reaches 55%. For those reasons, the lower Salmon River between Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek and the Little Salmon River will remain open for at least another week.

Weekly chinook harvest in Rapid River fishery 6-11-2024

Hells Canyon Fishery

We estimate that 76 adults and 8 jacks were harvested last week below Hells Canyon Dam which is a drop from the previous week (see Table below). Catch rates were 12 hrs/fish (they were 8 hrs/fish last week), but the main reason harvest dropped is because we observed about 1/3 of the effort as the previous week. As of last Sunday (June 9, 2024), we estimate that 613 fish were harvested in this fishery which leaves 180 adult fish before we reach our harvest share. As such, this fishery will remain open for at least another week. 

Weekly chinook harvest in Hells Canyon 6-11-24

There are still good fishing opportunities to be had.  Good luck!