And Now a Word About Salmon Fishing
by Roger Phillips
Idaho Statesman, April 23, 2009
Salmon season opens Saturday and fish are finally starting to head up the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Bonneville Dam had more than a 1,000 fish pass on Tuesday for the first time this year. One thousand fish in a day is my arbitrary number that signals the run has really started.
There's a pinch of legitimacy to it. The run size tends to grow rapidly after the first day of 1,000 fish. We should start seeing several thousand fish per day from now on and the run growing exponentially.
The first chinook crossed Bonneville on March 2, and about seven weeks later, we're still below 5,000 fish. I bet we will be well over 10,000 fish over Bonneville by next week.
We have been lagging about three weeks behind last year. We're supposed to have a banner run of spring and summer chinook, but you never know until they start crossing the dams.
Judging the run by the earlyreturners is like trying judge the size of the buck's antlers by looking at his nose.
But it's a good time to pay attention because if you're planning a long weekend or vacation around salmon fishing, you can start guesstimating when they will arrive at your favorite spots.
My wild guess is there will be some good numbers of fish around Lewiston during Memorial Day weekend, which is pretty convenient timing if you're planning a road trip.
If you like to fish the Salmon River, prepare to fish in high water. The fish are probably going to arrive about the same time as peak runoff in mid-May.
If you like the Little Salmon, I would be marking my calendar for early to mid-June. That's a tricky one because it's a small drainage and fishing conditions can really be effected by McCall's unpredictable spring weather. May can bring warm, sunny days or snowstorms. You just never know.
Despite the late return, I am still optimistic about the run, and I am sure a lot of you are looking forward to it.
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