The Fish and Game Commission has approved seasons and rules for the earliest of Idaho's Chinook salmon fisheries. The rules are designed around four major objectives:
- Providing protection of ESA (Endangered Species Act) listed fish
- Providing harvest opportunity
- Providing diversity of opportunity
- Allow a flexible, adaptive and responsive approach to in-season changes
The rules are based on a projected spring Chinook run size that is similar to 2014. As of March 28, workers had counted 1000 Chinook salmon at Bonneville Dam, the first of eight dams salmon pass on their journey to Idaho. While this number is the largest for the same date since 2004, it is a small fraction of the number of spring Chinook salmon expected in Idaho. The seasons and rules approved by the Commission are based on a projected sport harvest of approximately 11,700 adipose clipped Chinook salmon in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.
The Commission approved an April 25 opening date, with closures to be made as harvest dictates.
In the Clearwater Basin, except for the South Fork Clearwater River, limits are set at four fish per day, only one of which may be an adult. The possession limit in these parts of the Clearwater River drainage will be twelve fish, only three of which may be adults.
In the South Fork Clearwater, lower Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake River fisheries, anglers will be allowed to keep four fish per day, only two of which may be adults. The possession limit in these fisheries will be twelve fish, of which only six may be adults.
The season limit will be 20 adult Chinook salmon for seasons prior to September 1. Adult Chinook salmon are defined as those 24 inches and longer.
Other rules and special restrictions for the Chinook salmon fishery will be available in the 2015 spring Chinook salmon brochure. These seasons and rules for spring Chinook salmon fishing in Idaho will be available at Fish and Game offices and vendors prior to the April 25 season opener. They will also be posted on the Fish and Game website prior to April 25.
The Commission is tentatively set to consider Chinook salmon fisheries on the South Fork Salmon and upper Salmon Rivers at its May meeting. Fish return to those areas later than to the Clearwater River and Rapid River Hatcheries, giving managers more time to develop fishery proposals for those areas.