Press Release

Chinook salmon are slow to show in Idaho, but should arrive soon 

See videos on how Idaho Fish and Game sets salmon fishing seasons 

Salmon fishing seasons are tricky because the run size and fishing seasons vary from year to year based on how many fish return to Idaho and how many hatchery fish are available for sport harvest. 

High flows in rivers appear to be slowing returning chinook salmon this year. Chinook fishing season opened on April 22, but barely any fish had reach Idaho yet so fishing effort was light, but that could all change soon. 

“We're still waiting for fish,” Fish and Game’s fisheries bureau chief Jim Fredericks said.  “They're starting to move over Bonneville Dam now, and nearly 250 adults passed on April 23. 

More than 90 percent of the forecasted return is still below Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, and less than 10 adults have made it over Lower Granite Dam downstream from Lewiston. 

“If the mainstem Columbia flows continue to improve, Idaho anglers should have fishable numbers in the next one to two weeks,” Fredericks said. 

Anglers often wonder how Fish and Game manages the fishing seasons, so the department created a three-part video series to help people understand the challenges and rationale behind chinook fisheries. The series explains the process of setting seasons, how harvest is monitored during the season, and the best way to find current information on fish counts and conditions.