Salmon and Steelhead Fishing Reportby Alan Liere
Spokesman Review, September 29, 2006
About 2,800 steelhead a day have been swimming over Lower Granite Dam the past week, bringing the total over the dam to more than 55,000 fish out of up to 150,000 predicted over the dam this fall. The average steelhead return for the last ten years to Lower Granite Dam has been about 121,000 fish. Last week's rain increased the flows and headed some steelhead up the tributaries.
"We saw the fishing pick up within two days of the rain," said Bill Vail at Boggan's Oasis near the Washington-Oregon border. "The flow came up to 900 cfs, but then it started going down again. People are catching fish upstream and downstream, but now I'd say the fishing at best is only fair - until we get some more rain."
The best steelheading in the region apparently was in the 58-degree waters of the Salmon River, where Idaho Fish and Game surveys tallied one fish caught for every 12 hours of effort. The Snake, which was running 65 degrees, was next best at 19 hours a fish. The Clearwater, at 57 degrees, was 23 hours a fish.
Steelhead fishing on the lower Clearwater has become a bobber-only game since they shut down Dworshak Dam, says Tim Johnson of Fishhawk Guide Service in Clarkston. Enough water for braver souls to run boats upriver, but fish are scattered. A few are being caught at the mouth of the Salmon and around Heller Bar.
Hanford Reach chinook fishing is gaining some steam. Here are the most recent stats from Fish and Wildlife Department surveys: 491 chinook harvested last week in the Hanford Reach; anglers averaged 33 hours a fish. Total harvest for the season, 848 compared with 2,260 last year. Angler effort down about 15 percent this year.
A few steelhead were hooked in the Ringold area, a good sign for the start of the hatchery steelhead catch season that starts there Sunday. Water temps are in the low 60s, but the river flows have been low on weekends, making fishing more difficult. Best catches have been on Thursdays and Fridays at White Bluffs and Vernita for the past three weeks.
The Tri-Cities Salmon Derby is Saturday and Sunday on the Columbia and Yakima rivers. Enter at sporting goods stores in the Tri-Cities and Desert Aire.
Yakima River chinook fishing continues to get better, especially below Horn Rapids Dam. Success last week was 35 hours per fish. More than three times more fish have been caught this year compared with the same time last year.
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