Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing Update 5/24/2022: Rapid River Run, Hells Canyon, and Clearwater River Fisheries

Hi everybody, it is time for my weekly spring Chinook Salmon update (5/24/2022). So, let’s get right to it.

Run Update

The migration of Idaho-bound spring Chinook Salmon past Bonneville Dam is now about 95% complete. Daily Chinook Salmon counts over Bonneville Dam since my last update have averaged about 2,000 fish which is about half of what we observed the week before (see figure below). This brings the total count for adult Chinook Salmon at Bonneville Dam (March 15 to May 23) to 132,452 fish which is the best since 2015, and the third-best when compared to the past 10 years. 

Bonneville Chinook Counts Graph

PIT tag estimates of spring Chinook Salmon that have passed over Bonneville Dam are summarized in the table below. This table shows that the Clearwater River return’s adult harvest share is projected to be 6,000 fish (darker pink row), 3,827 for the Rapid River return (blue row), and zero for Hells Canyon (green row). Results from our genetic analysis that more accurately estimate run size will probably be ready by next week. Initial results suggest this data could increase the harvest share for the Rapid River return. So stay tuned for that. 

Bonneville Chinook Counts Graph

Fisheries

Clearwater River Basin Fishery

Catch rates didn’t pick up like I thought they would in the Clearwater. I’m not exactly why that is, but in most reaches catch rates averaged over 30 hrs/fish. Despite lower catch rates, we did see more fish harvested last week than the previous week (see table below). We now estimate that 1,237 adult fish have been harvested, leaving around 4,700 fish to catch. For this reason, all river reaches in the Clearwater River will remain open through Memorial Weekend. 

Harvest Share Table by Release Group

Rapid River Run Fishery

Harvest did pick up for the Rapid River run last week, but catch rates remained slow. All total we estimate that 103 fish were harvested last week with all but four of those fish being harvested from the lower Salmon River. Over 3,700 fish are still left on our harvest share, so all river reaches in the Rapid River run fishery will remain open through Memorial Weekend.

Harvest Share Table by Release Group

Hells Canyon Fishery

Still, no fish were observed being harvested in this fishery. The jacks should start showing up below Hells Canyon Dam soon.

It looks like flows in both the Clearwater and Salmon rivers are supposed to peak this Saturday.  This may influence fishing for those of you who plan to go out over Memorial Weekend.  The good news is no river reaches will be closed, so you will have many options on where to go.

Stay safe on your travels and good luck fishing.

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Joe DuPont

Chinook caught on Salmon River