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Salmon Season Starts Slow, Counts Look Good

Chinook fishing started slow on the first two weekends of the 2001 season, but counts at Lower Granite Dam, the last barrier to salmon entering Idaho rivers, indicate good times for anglers on the way. The anadromous salmon seasons got underway in parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers on April 21. Salmon fishing was slow on the weekend, but as the fish have been crossing Lower Granite Dam in large numbers in recent days, the fishing activity is picking up. Through April 29, 71,806 salmon have crossed the dam this year, all during the month of April Fish and Game is currently surveying anglers in the Clearwater, Salmon, and Little Salmon rivers to determine how the fishing is going. Catch rates on the lower Clearwater River from Lewiston to Orofino were as low as 66 hours per fish over the weekend. The fish have not come to the upper Clearwater and tributaries in big enough numbers to provide good fishing yet. The lower Salmon River and the Little Salmon River fisheries are also slower since the salmon have much farther to travel. The Department will report on angler activity each Monday throughout the season. For comparison to the same time in previous years, the 10-year average of adult spring chinook crossing Lower Granite Dam by April 28 is only 1,138 fish. Last year, 1,900 spring chinook had crossed the last of the eight dams on their migration back to Idaho to spawn. The bulk of the run is hatchery fish, bound for the Clearwater and Little Salmon rivers. This year's run has already surpassed the highest run size since 1977, which was 40,900 spring chinook in 1978. In that year, most of the fish were wild salmon, and that was the last year Idaho had a statewide salmon season. Many of the areas that were open for salmon fishing in 1978 still remain closed. Additional information will be on the IDFG website at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/, and will be updated weekly.