Idaho's Spring Chinook
by Eric Barker
Opportunities to fish for spring and summer chinook in Idaho remain, but they are quickly shrinking as the run winds down.
Idaho Fish and Game officials have closed fishing on the lower Salmon River, and fishing will close Sunday night on the North Fork of the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.
Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said the lower Salmon fishery is being closed to protect summer chinook destined for the upper Salmon and South Fork of the Salmon rivers. Most chinook bound for the Rapid River Hatchery near Riggins have already exited the lower Salmon and entered the Little Salmon River. DuPont said in a weekly update on the fisheries that the North Fork of the Clearwater has harvest share remaining, but is closing to protect collection of adult chinook at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery and to ensure Nez Perce Tribal members who fish there have a reasonable opportunity to harvest salmon.
Anglers harvested just seven summer chinook on the Lochsa last week, but the fishery is shutting down because the harvest share there is only about 33 fish.
Other fisheries on the Clearwater River and its tributaries that have not already closed - and the Little Salmon River and the Snake River in upper Hells Canyon - will remain open. However, DuPont said because the run is all but complete, fishing has slowed in many areas and the best opportunities that remain are in terminal areas such as the North Fork Clearwater. Even those areas were difficult by last Sunday, the end of the latest four-day fishing interval.
According to the latest estimate, there are about 484 adult chinook remaining on the harvest share for the Clearwater River and its tributaries and about 444 on the Little Salmon River.
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