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F&G Commission Approves 2020
Fall Chinook Salmon Season

by Idaho Fish & Game
Daily Fly, July 27, 2020

Adult counts of wild Chinook and Steelhead returning to Idaho (source: Idaho Fish & Game) Fisheries managers expect 18,150 adult fish to return to Lower Granite Dam in 2020

Fall Chinook fishing on the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers will open Aug. 18, and Sept. 17 for the North Fork Clearwater River. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the season during their meeting in Idaho Falls on Thursday, July 23.

Idaho Fish and Game fisheries managers expect 18,150 adult fish to return to Lower Granite Dam in 2020, compared with 16,508 that actually returned last year.

Of the fish returning, managers are forecasting 11,560 hatchery Chinook and 6,590 natural origin. For the second straight year, fall Chinook anglers will have the opportunity to harvest some salmon with intact adipose fins.

Fall Chinook are unique and are managed separately from other Chinook runs in Idaho, and the majority of hatchery fall Chinook released throughout the Snake River basin are not marked with a clipped adipose fin. Of the fish that return to the Snake River Basin, a high proportion are adipose-intact hatchery fish.

A joint fisheries management plan submitted by Idaho, Oregon and Washington was approved by the federal government in 2019, allowing seasons in which some adipose-intact fall Chinook can be harvested. Based on that plan and the forecasted run sizes for 2020, the harvest share for Idaho’s fall Chinook season will be about 1,400 adipose-intact and 1,700 adipose clipped adult Chinook. Around half of the harvest will be allocated to the fish destined for the Snake and Salmon rivers, and the other half to the Clearwater River.

Second year of experimental season in section of Clearwater River

The fall Chinook season on the Clearwater River upstream of Memorial Bridge is considered an experimental season, which is now in its second year. In 2019, this experimental fishery was structured in a manner to inform a citizen working group called the Clearwater River Fisheries Working Group on how a fall Chinook Salmon fishery could mesh with the popular catch-and-release steelhead fishery in the Clearwater River basin.

However, due to poor steelhead returns to the Clearwater River, fisheries managers closed the steelhead season on September 29 to help meet hatchery broodstock goals. In addition, many people were unaware of the new fall Chinook salmon fishery that was opened in the Clearwater. The combination of these events led to low fishing effort for both salmon and steelhead. As a result, fisheries managers’ assessment of how this new fall Chinook Salmon fishery would influence the catch-and-release steelhead fishery was potentially biased, and the commission approved the second experimental season to provide additional, and potentially more accurate information to the working group.

The following areas open to fishing for fall Chinook:

Closing Dates Fishing Days Limits Full rules and regulations will be available online in early August and at regional Fish and Game offices prior to the season opener.

Idaho Fish & Game
F&G Commission Approves 2020 Fall Chinook Salmon Season
Daily Fly, July 27, 2020

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