Press Release

Low returns cause F&G to close some areas to Chinook salmon fishing and alter others

Chinook run size is below forecast, and it was forecasted to be below average

Idaho Fish and Game has closed Chinook fishing in the Clearwater River system, and will end fishing on portions of the Salmon River and the Little Salmon River on May 17. Fishing days per week will also be reduced after May 17 on sections of Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers that remain open.  

Recent changes include: 

  • Salmon fishing is closed on the Clearwater, Middle Fork of the Clearwater, North Fork of the Clearwater and South Fork of the Clearwater rivers. Returns to the Clearwater River are below forecast and no harvest share is available.
  • Fish and Game Commission will end Chinook fishing at the end of fishing hours on May 17 on the Lower Salmon River from the Time Zone bridge upstream to the uppermost boat ramp at Vinegar Creek, and also from the mouth of the Little Salmon River upstream approximately 0.7 miles to the Big Salmon Road Bridge that crosses the Little Salmon River. 
  • Starting May 18, the Lower Salmon River from the Rice Creek Bridge to Time Zone Bridge and the Little Salmon River from the Big Salmon Road Bridge to Smokey Boulder Road will only be open to fishing for Chinook two days per week, Saturdays and Sundays. Limiting fishing days further will stretch the season out longer and reduce the potential for overharvest. 

Some of the closures to the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers are an effort to protect the community of Riggins from potential hazards associated with COVID-19. 

"Riggins is situated right at the confluence of the Little Salmon and Salmon rivers, which is  a very popular fishing area, and anglers typically access the river bank through downtown Riggins," Fish and Game Fisheries Bureau Chief Jim Fredericks said. "Under normal circumstances, the city is happy to have large numbers of anglers come into town, but with the concerns related to COVID-19, there are legitimate concerns about creating a situation that funnels large numbers of people through the center of town."

All other previously established salmon seasons, limits, and rules remain in effect. For more information, see the Chinook fishing seasons and rules. 

For more information about the Chinook returns, see Clearwater Regional Fisheries Manager Joe DuPont's analysis of the 2020 Chinook run.