Chinook Fishing to Close Thursday
In his weekly fishing update, Clearwater Region fish manager Joe DuPont noted the end of the chinook salmon fishing season is nigh on two local rivers: the Lower Salmon and the Snake. The Little Salmon River will remain open until Monday, at least, as will the Clearwater River upstream of Orofino Bridge, Middle Fork Clearwater River, South Fork Clearwater River and Lochsa River.
"This certainly is an unusual year," DuPont wrote. "This is the first time to my knowledge that we have had to shut down the Hells Canyon fishery early."
He projected final adult harvest share for the Clearwater run will be about 3,200 fish, the Rapid River run will be about 4,000 fish, and the Hells Canyon fishery will be about 540 fish.
Last week catch rates in all open areas in the Clearwater basin improved over the previous week. Combine this improvement in catch rates with increased effort due to Memorial Weekend, and we documented a fair bit of harvest (see table below). The best catch rates were in the North Fork (7 hrs/fish), although fishing in the main Clearwater River and Middle Fork Clearwater Rivers was decent (15-17 hrs/fish) as well. Fishing was still slow in the South Fork Clearwater River (35 hrs/fish), but I suspect catch rates will improve as the number of PIT tagged fish passing over the PIT tag array near Stites has really picked up over the last four days.
Catch rates improved last week throughout the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers over what occurred the previous week. The best catch rates were in sections 1 and 3 of the on the lower Salmon River (8-10 hrs/fish). Fishing on the Little Salmon River picked up considerably (18 hrs/fish) with catch rates really improving toward the end of the week. With the increased effort (Memorial Weekend) and the higher catch rates, we documented considerable harvest in this fishery (see table below). As I indicated last week, with the lower harvest share this year and good fishing conditions (lack of high dirty water), closures could come quickly. Well, unfortunately, that is the case once again. If we don't make some closures soon, we could have to shut down the entire Rapid River run fishery by this weekend.
As predicted, catch rates did drop some last week below Hells Canyon Dam (17 hrs/fish), but it will still good enough to provide a fair amount of harvest. Through our creel surveys, we estimated 125 adult Chinook were harvested bringing the yearly total to 355 fish. We anticipate that by this Thursday (June 2, 2016) the total harvest will be near 400 fish. The remaining fish will be trapped to help insure we meet brood needs (we are concerned because few have been trapped to date) and to fulfill other established state and tribal objectives.
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