The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved an historic fishery for the Clearwater River. For the first time ever, a specific season for Coho Salmon will open in Idaho. The season will run from October 17, 2014 to November 16, 2014 on the Mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Clear Creek, and on the North Fork Clearwater River downstream from Dworshak Dam.
Anglers will be allowed to keep two Coho Salmon per day. The possession limit will be six, and the season limit will be ten. Coho limits are separate from those for Fall Chinook Salmon. Anglers must have a valid salmon permit to legally harvest Coho Salmon, and any Coho Salmon harvested must be recorded on that permit. Any Coho Salmon processed before transport must have the skin intact, with the adipose fin attached.
Idaho Coho Salmon have adapted to changing river conditions more poorly than Idaho's other anadromous species, and were technically extinct for decades, before the Nez Perce Tribe began a recovery program using eggs from other locations. That program has resulted in growing returns, including this year's run. As of Tuesday October 14, nearly 15,000 Coho Salmon had passed Lower Granite Dam.
"Without the Nez Perce tribe's efforts, Idaho sport anglers would not be getting this opportunity," said Anadromous Fisheries Manager Pete Hassemer.
Coho released from the Nez Perce Tribe's hatchery program have not had their adipose fins clipped, so the Commission has also approved a temporary change in the rules regarding harvest. Anglers may keep Coho Salmon with an adipose fin during the one month season, and are encouraged to carefully identify any salmon before harvest. A guide to fish identification in Idaho is printed in our general fishing seasons and rules brochure and online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=85. Fall Chinook Salmon with adipose fins must still be released unharmed and the Clearwater River upstream of Memorial Bridge is closed to Fall Chinook fishing.