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Fish Folks Scale Back Steelhead Forecast

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, August 26, 2004

Run will be good enough, but not great

On the verge of the opening of steelhead season on the Salmon, Snake and Grand Ronde rivers, fish biologists are adjusting their steelhead forecast slightly downward.

Sharon Kiefer, anadromous fish manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Boise, says the number of steelhead counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River this summer is not on course with an earlier prediction that 363,000 steelhead would return to the river.

She expects the Technical Advisory Committee, which helps set tribal, commercial and sport fishing limits on the Columbia River, to soon downgrade that forecast.

That means fewer fish will return to Lower Granite Dam, 35 miles west of Clarkston on the Snake River.

But she says there still will be plenty of fish for anglers. The department is expecting about 100,000 steelhead to be counted at Lower Granite Dam this year.

"What we will see is not the exuberant years we have had here in the last couple of years, but it is certainly going to be average or slightly above average," she said.

Last year, 172,000 steelhead were counted crossing Lower Granite Dam and the 10-year average is 116,000 fish. But not too many years ago 100,000 was considered an extraordinary run.

So far this year, 4,533 steelhead have been counted at the dam, about 2,000 fish behind the 10-year average of 6,352.

Fishing has been slow on the small section of the lower Clearwater River that has been open since July 1, according to Larry Barrett of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston. But many biologists expect the recent rain and cool weather to induce steelhead to start moving up both the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The catch-and-keep season for hatchery steelhead opens Wednesday on Snake, Salmon and Grand Ronde rivers. It won't open until Oct. 15 on the Clearwater River above Memorial Bridge in Lewiston.

Eric Barker
Fish Folks Scale Back Steelhead Forecast
Lewiston Tribune, August 26, 2004

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