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April 17, 2014

Chinook Salmon moving toward Idaho

   Idaho born Spring Chinook salmon are starting to show up in the Columbia River, the gateway to their spawning grounds in the Gem State.

   As of Sunday, April 13, 4,603 Spring Chinook salmon have been counted going past Bonneville Dam, the first place they are counted on their 700-plus mile journey to the Salmon and Clearwater River drainages. While predicting returning numbers of salmon is a very tricky business, early season forecasts indicate the number of spring Chinook returning this year will be much higher than in 2013.

   Early projections indicate around 80,000 hatchery and wild salmon will make it to Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. If projections hold true, Idaho anglers will be allowed to harvest 4,800 hatchery spring Chinook on the Clearwater River and its tributaries, 5,900 on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and 700 on the Snake River in Hells Canyon.

   Seasons will begin on April 26, on the mainstem Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, Lochsa, Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and on the Snake River in Hells Canyon from Dug Bar upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. Fisheries will be open seven days per week. Closing dates will be determined and ordered by the Commission based on harvest quotas.

   Daily limits will be four fish per day. Only two of the daily limit of four fish may be adult salmon (24 inches or larger) on the Lower Salmon, Little Salmon, Snake River and South Fork Clearwater rivers. Only one of the daily bag limit of four fish may be an adult salmon on the Main stem Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and the Lochsa rivers. Salmon anglers should refer to the salmon season rules brochures for more information on limits and the season.

   A special restriction will be placed on a short stretch of the Clearwater River known as Big Eddy. That stretch will be closed to fishing from watercraft. Only fishing from the bank will be allowed in that section and boundaries will be clearly posted.

   For more detailed season information, salmon anglers should refer to the seasons and rules pamphlet available at license vendors, at Fish and Game offices and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=110.