Salmon anglers can begin fishing the famous South Fork of the Salmon River for summer chinook June 30 or after, as soon as federal fisheries authorities approve Idaho's request for a permit.
Anglers are already enjoying good fishing for spring chinook on the Clearwater and Little Salmon Rivers. A summer chinook season on the South Fork of the Salmon had to wait until fish counts indicated enough summer chinook would be heading to the South Fork to allow a fishing season for them. The season would target unlisted hatchery summer chinook, which are marked by an adipose fin-clip. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must approve the salmon fishing seasons because all of Idaho's native anadromous fish runs are listed under the Endangered Species Act and some may be caught and released during the course of the fishery.
Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners voted unanimously for a South Fork summer chinook season when they met by conference call June 20. The season is set to open June 30 or after, as permitted by NMFS. Fishing will cease August 4 unless the harvest quota is met before that date.
The salmon hatchery at McCall needs about 570 of the unlisted, hatchery-reared, adults for the hatchery program. Biologists estimate a run on the South Fork Salmon at 1,800 to 2,300 adults, leaving a surplus for tribal and nontribal fisheries of about 1,700 if 2,300 salmon do run in the river.
A rules brochure for the season is being prepared now to be available at Southwest Region vendors and Fish and Game offices by the beginning of the season.
Hours for fishing on the South Fork Salmon River will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time with a limit (including subadult jack salmon) of two per day, four in possession. The statewide salmon limit remains at 20 for the year and includes the South Fork.
Boundaries for the fishery on the mainstem South Fork are from the mouth of Goat Creek upstream to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the weir. It will be unlawful to use a hook bigger than 5/8 inch from point of hook to shank and the hook must be barbless. Fishing is prohibited after limits are reached.
Only chinook with a missing adipose fin may be kept, including jacks. Head and tail must remain on fish during transit.
All salmon taken on the South Fork Salmon River must be checked by Fish and Game no later than 10 p.m. of the day they are caught and anglers must receive a receipt for each fish. Salmon will be checked at a Fish and Game check station at Knox Ranch on the South Fork Road, Forest Service #474, about 1/4 mile north of the Warm Lake Highway.