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Idaho Fish and Game

Angler below NF 02-19-2024

Upper Salmon River Steelhead Fishing Report (02-20-2024)


Hi everyone, this is the Upper Salmon River steelhead fishing report for February 20, 2024. The data discussed in this report was collected between Tuesday, February 13th and Sunday, February 19th.

As mentioned in last week’s river condition report, the spring steelhead fishery on the Upper Salmon River is off to an early start in 2024. The Deadwater ice jam opened on February 7th, and we started to see catch rates really pick up downstream of Deadwater as soon as the river’s visibility improved. The timing of the ice jam opening was a full month and a half ahead of last year and a month ahead of other recent years. 

 IDFG personnel began conducting angler interviews early last week in the areas downstream of Challis, Idaho. Angler effort was low in all areas until the weekend when effort increased considerably in location code 15, between the Middle Fork Salmon River and the North Fork. Angler effort upstream of North Fork was low throughout most of the week before slightly increasing over the weekend. 

Catch rates were excellent early in the week in all monitored areas before colder weather arrived for the weekend. Single digit overnight lows brought river temperatures back down into the low 30s and produced frazil ice in the upstream areas. With the low effort observed downstream of the Middle Fork, only a small number of angler interviews were obtained, and from those, anglers averaged 15 hours per steelhead caught. Anglers interviewed upstream of the Middle Fork in location code 15 averaged 4 hours per steelhead caught, which was the best average catch rate we have observed in this area since spring of 2016. Anglers interviewed upstream of North Fork in location code 16 also did very well and averaged 6 hours per steelhead caught. Anglers interviewed upstream of the Lemhi River in location codes 17 averaged 20 hours per steelhead caught. Few angler interviews were obtained from upstream of the Pahsimeroi River in location code 18, and the average catch rate for this area was 6 hours per steelhead caught. 

The river’s visibility was excellent in all areas throughout the week, and given the forecast for the upcoming week, it will likely remain that way. As mentioned above, water temperatures fell back into the low 30s over the weekend, but with warmer overnight lows on the forecast, water temperatures should start to slowly increase again. River flows have been stable for the past few weeks, and currently, the Salmon River is flowing at 1,100 cfs through the town of Salmon, ID which is 101 percent of average for today’s date. 

The last thing we wanted to mention in this week’s report is the status of boat ramps. This week we are planning on clearing the ice from IDFG owned boat ramps between Salmon and North Fork. Additionally, the City of Salmon reopened the upper half of Island Park on Friday of last week which means that the newly renovated boat ramp located there is now accessible (see picture below). Boat ramps between Salmon and Challis are usable, but this weekend’s weather system did result in some ramps becoming snow covered and icy. Anglers are reminded to always check on the status of boat ramps before launching their boats, especially this early in the season. 

Salmon, ID - Island Park boat ramp
Island Park boat ramp in Salmon, ID