June 30, 2011

Clearwater River fishing update

By Joe Dupont, IDFG

   Once again fishing was good in the Clearwater River drainage, as over 600 adults were caught and catch rates were below 10 hours per fish in most river sections.

   The harvest of adult Chinook ended June 27 on the Clearwater River downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River; however, you can still keep six Jacks in this area and I expect fishing pressure should be low and action could be good at times. 

   For those who want to catch and keep adults, fishing around Kooskia and in the South Fork Clearwater should be good. There are a lot of fish headed to these areas.  I fished the South Fork last weekend and had great success by fishing a small back eddy by myself, where I thought fish would pull into on their journey upriver. While driving up the river I saw many places where nobody was fishing where I thought people could catch fish.

   Fish are scattered from the mouth up to Golden (40 miles upstream) right now.  Finally, donít abandon the Clearwater form the Orofino Bridge upstream to Kooksia.  There are still many fish heading upriver that can be intercepted as they migrate to their final destination.

   Fishing did pick up in the Riggins area over the last week, as we estimated 368 adult Chinook were harvested.  In fact, because fishing pressure was so low, the highest catch rates we experienced in the Clearwater Region were in the Riggins area. Based on the flow prediction models, flows in the Salmon River are supposed to peak on Thursday night, June 30, and then begin dropping.  They should drop below 55,000 cfs by Sunday morning, July 3, which is typically when we have seen fishing to start picking up in the past. 

   If flows continue to drop, the fishing should get red hot shortly after July 4, so plan accordingly. 

   We estimated that 127 adults were harvested last week below Hells Canyon Dam, for a total of 621 adult fish for the season. Our harvest share for the Hells Canyon area is estimated to be 1,598 fish, so we have a ways to go there. Once again, catch rates were excellent in this reach (five hours per fish), and I would only expect this to get better as flows drop.

   It looks like most of the adult Chinook heading to the Clearwater River, Riggins area, and Hells Canyon Reach have passed over Lower Granite. This is good news, as our harvest shares will not drop. I would only expect to see a few hundred more adult fish cross over Lower Granite that are headed for these waters. However, we expect that another 3,000 jacks are still headed to these fisheries that need to pass over Lower Granite.

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