June 12: Chinook fishing updates for the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon rivers and Hells Canyon

If you like to fish the Clearwater River run, please pay attention to the Clearwater River Fishery section below, as there are rule changes that will be taking effect starting this Saturday.

Run Update and Harvest Share

I have summarized the run estimates and projected harvest shares for Chinook Salmon destined for the Clearwater River, Rapid River and Hells Canyon fisheries in the table below.  Numbers haven’t changed much for the Clearwater Fishery since last week, but there are some significant changes for the Rapid River and Hells Canyon fisheries. 

We finished our analysis of how well PIT-tags are representing the actual number of fish returning to these fisheries, and we learned that they are representing only about 42 percent of the Rapid River and Hells Canyon returns.  In other words, if the real size of the Rapid River run is 1,000 fish, the PIT-tag estimate would indicate the run was 420 fish.  This is good news as the corrections we made increased our run estimates and harvest shares for these fisheries.  The bottom line is our harvest share has increased a fair bit.  In fact, we are estimating our harvest share will be around 1,300 adult fish for the Rapid River run and around 300 fish for Hells Canyon, about double of what I showed last week.

Creative Commons Licence
Joe DuPont

Clearwater River Fishery

Harvest picked up last week in the Clearwater River Fishery everywhere except for Section 1 - the Lewiston area (see table below).  The best catch rates (12-15 hrs/fish) were around Dworshak and Kooskia hatcheries, although fish were caught about everywhere.  Harvest in Section 2 (Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge) was good enough that only 41 adult fish remain before we will reach our harvest goal for this section of river (see blue section in table below).  As such, at the end of fishing hours on Friday, June 15, 2018, fishing for all Chinook Salmon will close in the Clearwater River from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge. 

All other areas will remain open.  We won’t be providing jack only fisheries this year due to the low number of jacks returning.  If you look at the table below, you will see that if harvest picks up in the North Fork and around Kooskia Hatchery (I suspect it will), these river sections may meet there harvest objectives by the end of the week as well.  I will try to let you know by next Tuesday if there are any additional closures, so you can plan accordingly. 

Creative Commons Licence
Joe DuPont

Rapid River Fishery

Harvest picked up in the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers last week (see table below), although you still had to work hard to catch fish.  The catch rates ranged from 18-23 hrs/fish in the Salmon River and 48 hrs/fish in the Little Salmon River.  Catch rates should improve considerably in the Little Salmon River this week as fish push up toward the hatchery.  With the increase in harvest share that I explained earlier, there will be no closures this week on this fishery.  Don't forget, fishing is only allowed 4 days a week (Thursday through Sunday); the Salmon River is only open from Upper Twin Bridge to Shorts Creek; and the limit is one adult per day.  

Creative Commons Licence
Joe DuPont

Hells Canyon Fishery

Fishing didn’t improve much in the Hells Canyon Fishery.  We estimated 17 adult Chinook were harvested and catch rates were 44 hour/fish.  We started trapping brood stock this week at Hells Canyon Dam, which will be pulling fish out the fishery.  As such, I don’t expect catch rates to improve. 

If you are a salmon angler, this is a good week to be out fishing, especially for all you fathers out there.  There certainly are many good option to consider.

Have a great week everybody.