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Ecology and salmon related articles

Contradictory Steelhead Fishing,
Nothing New

by Roger Phillips
Idaho Statesman, November 7, 2013

Graphic: In-River survival of juvenile Chinook and Steelhead through Snake and Columbia Rivers (Lower Granite tailrace to Bonneville tailrace I've said this before, but I will say it again. It amazes me how much time I've devoted to steelhead fishing and how unpredictable it remains.

I've studied and searched for clues to help me gauge what are the best times and conditions to go, and honestly, throwing a dart at a calendar would probably do as well as my reasoned research.

I say this because the steelhead world is once again throwing us curve balls.

I've reported the run is below average, which is true. But the fishing has been surprisingly good for the last few weeks, and it appears to be continuing based on reports out of Riggins.

But the traditional stocking of the Boise River in early November isn't going to happen because Fish and Game reports there's not enough fish at Hells Canyon Dam.

Despite that, steelhead fishing catch rates ranged from 6 to 25 hours per fish throughout the state, with some of the best catch rates coming from Hells Canyon.


We all are. But the not-so-subtle message is go steelhead fishing. And don't write off those Boise River fish, yet. Fish and Game might still be able to collect enough fish to bring a truckload.

That's not based on any inside information, just following the steelhead logic. When things look bad, sometimes they turn out good.

And on that note, here are the latest fish counts out of Lower Granite Dam (starting June 1).

Nov. 5: 95,745.

10-year average: 162,128.

Nov. 5 last year: 93,562.

The state of Idaho has used the 17.5 g/day rate since 2005, which is EPA's national default rate, but the federal agency has rejected the criteria used by the state to make that decision, because the state had not used several sources of information that suggested the fish consumption rate should be higher.

However, the issue is complicated since EPA lacks the authority to mandate a particular fish consumption rate state in its standard-setting process. It's up to the states' own rulemaking process to figure out which rate to use.

Roger Phillips
Contradictory Steelhead Fishing, Nothing New
Idaho Statesman, November 7, 2013

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