Summer Chinook Boost Fish Counts
by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, June 16, 2010
Dedicated watchers of fish counts from dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers likely noticed a spike in the number of chinook reported the past few days.
At Lower Granite Dam, about 35 miles west of Lewiston, counts went from a few hundred a day to more than 1,100 Monday and almost 1,300 Tuesday.
Larry Barrett, fisheries biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston tells me most of those fish are the front end of the summer chinook bound for the South Fork of the Salmon, Pahsimeroi and Imnaha rivers.
"There are decent numbers of Pahsimeroi and McCall (hatchery fish bound for the South Fork of the Salmon) summer chinook and probably some Imnaha fish," he said. "Very few of those fish are Rapid River fish and none are Clearwater."
He said only one or two chinook carrying pit tags marking them as Clearwater origin have been detected passing the dams in the past week or so.
But those South Fork of the Salmon River chinook should be passing through the Lower Salmon River in coming weeks. The stretch of river between the mouth of Short's Creek and Vinegar Creek opens for fishing Saturday. Plus there should be a pile of Rapid River fish that have not yet entered the Little Salmon.
"There should be a big slug of Rapid River fish between Granite (Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River) and Riggins. There should be 10,000 fish some where. They are certainly not in the Little Salmon. I'm hoping they are just going to bust through here any time. I just can't imagine the fishing isn't going to be outstanding on the lower Salmon sometime in the next week, week and a half."
Fishing should also heat up on the upper Clearwater and it's Middle Fork soon, particularly around Clear Creek near Kooskia "There should be 3,000 fish hanging out in the area," he said.
The state has about 1,500 chinook remaining on its Clearwater River harvest share. The Clearwater is open from the Orofino bridge extending through the Middle Fork, Lochsa and South Fork of the Clearwater rivers.
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