Anglers Pursue Wily Chinook
by Jason Kauffman
Rare fishery will remain open until Aug. 2 or until quotas are reached
Something rare is happening along the scenic upper Salmon River between the rural communities of Clayton and Stanley.
Along this highway-accessible section of the river, anglers are taking to the water for the first time in 31 years to pursue chinook salmon. A sizeable run of the popular game fish allowed state fisheries managers to schedule a limited fishery for them beginning Thursday, June 19.
During their meeting in Jerome on May 22, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted chinook salmon seasons for both the upper Salmon and the South Fork of the Salmon River.
The upper Salmon will be open for chinook fishing until Aug. 2 or until further notice. Fishing will be open on the main Salmon River from the state Highway 75 bridge at milepost 231.5, about 10 miles west of Clayton, upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the weir at the Sawtooth Hatchery south of Stanley.
Fishing hours for chinook are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Anglers will need a fishing license and a salmon permit, which can be purchased at any Idaho Department of Fish and Game vendor.
Successful anglers can only keep hatchery chinook salmon with a clipped adipose fin. Unless there is a healed scar from the clipped fin, the salmon is considered wild and must be released immediately.
The rules have changed for jack chinook salmon this year. Fish and Game considers jacks as any chinook less than 24 inches long. More specifically, jacks are young male salmon that return to spawn in their river of origin after spending only one year in salt water.
Anglers may keep two adipose-fin-clipped jacks per day and have six in possession in addition to the adult chinook daily and possession limits. But they don't have to record the jacks on their permit, the Fish and Game news release states.
After landing an adult chinook salmon, anglers should validate their permit. Limits on adult chinook salmon are two each day, six in possession, and 40 for the season. Anglers are required to stop fishing for salmon once they reach the adult salmon bag, possession, or season limit.
There will be three check stations, with two on Highway 75 and one on state Highway 21. It is mandatory for anglers to stop at check stations, even if they haven't caught any fish.
Elsewhere in Idaho, salmon fishing will close at the end of the day on Sunday, June 22, on the Middle Fork of the Clearwater, the Snake River, and the lower Salmon River.
Salmon fishing will remain open on the North Fork of the Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam, the South Fork of the Clearwater River, the Lochsa River and the Little Salmon River.
Fish and Game will provide updates on fishery status and potential closures in the Clearwater River basin every Monday until the season closes. Fish and Game expects some salmon fishing in the Clearwater River basin to remain open through the July Fourth weekend.
All salmon fishing in the Clearwater River basin will close once the remainder of the state's harvest share of Clearwater River hatchery salmon has been caught.
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