Chinook Salmon update for the Clearwater River, lower Salmon River, and Little Salmon River fisheries (5/22/19)

Hi Everybody.  It is time for the weekly spring Chinook Salmon update for the fisheries in the Clearwater River Basin and in the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers (Rapid River Run) (5/22/19).  

Run Update

At this point, we think the runs of Chinook Salmon over Bonneville Dam that are destined for the Clearwater River and Rapid River are over 85% complete.  Using this information, we have updated our run size and harvest share table below for the Clearwater and Rapid River run fisheries (using data through 5/21/19).  This table assumes that around 70% of the adult Chinook Salmon that pass over Bonneville Dam will make it to Idaho.  If you look at the table below, you will notice that our harvest share projection are even lower than what we estimated last week.  Unfortunately, we are still projecting that not enough fish will make it back to our Clearwater hatcheries to meet our full brood needs (305 fish short). For the Rapid River run, we are forecasting a harvest share of 1,309 fish.  This harvest share is 329 fish less than what we projected last week.  The reason these harvest shares keep dropping is because it appears the run timing is not as late as we thought it was.  To give you a feel for this year’s run timing compared to the previous three years (2016-2018), I have put together the two graphs below for you to look at.
 

spring_chinook_run_size_and_harvest_share_estimates_5-21-19
Creative Commons Licence
Joe DuPont

clearwater_run_timing_2016-2019
Creative Commons Licence
Joe DuPont

rapid_river_run_timing_2016-2019
Creative Commons Licence
Joe DuPont

 
Clearwater River Run Fishery

It now appears evident that not enough adult Chinook Salmon will return to the Clearwater River basin release sites to make full brood needs. As such, we have elected to close all spring Chinook Salmon fishing in the Clearwater River basin for the remainder of the year. 

Rapid River Run Fishery

We finally observed a few people fishing for salmon in the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers last week (season is open Thursday through Sunday); however, none of them reported catching a salmon.  I guess nobody hit the lottery last week.  Salmon destined for Rapid River have been passing over Lower Granite Dam for about 12 days now.  That means catchable numbers of Chinook should start entering the lower Salmon River where it is open to fishing this week.  In addition, flows are supposed to drop below 40,000 cfs for the next few days, which means fish should be able to easily negotiate the Slide Rapid.  If you do go fishing, don’t expect great fishing as we are talking about hundreds of fish entering the fishery not thousands.  I drove along the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers yesterday and water clarity looked good for fishing.  

 

That’s it for today.  I hope you all have a great Memorial Weekend.  

Travel safe.