Spring Chinook Spreading
by Rich Landers
FISHING -- The first spring chinook salmon of the season swam through the fish trap at the Rapid River Fish Hatchery near Riggins on Friday. That's an indicator the season's run is maturing, with fish starting to spread out from the lower Columbia all the way upstream to where they originate at some of Idaho's spawning streams and hatcheries.
The Rapid River fish was recorded as a 5-year fish (lived in the ocean for five years before migrating back to Idaho) and measured longer than 40 inches! A keeper that ran the gauntlet and survived.
As of Sunday, a total of 149,313 adult chinook had crossed Bonneville Dam. More than 12,250 adult chinook had crossed Lower Granite Dam, the last Snake River dam before the fish reach Idaho waters.
"We associate the fish as being in the Salmon River system about 5-6 weeks after they have crossed Bonneville and about 10-14 days after they cross Lower Granite," said Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures and fishing guides in Riggins.
"But keep in mind with Salmon River and Snake River flows above 40,000 CFS, the chinook will hold up at the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers (near Lewiston) for flows to come back down."
This morning, the Salmon River was running at 62,500 CFS and the Snake River was at 54,800 CFS.
"Keep your fingers crossed that the high water season does not prove problematic for this fishery; especially since this region is still sitting with about 131% of its average snow pack," Sinclair said.
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