Chinook fisheries are still open upstream of Orofino Bridge (seven days a week) and in River Section 1 (four days a week).
Last week we estimated that 128 spring chinook were harvested with most of them being caught in the upper South Fork Clearwater River and in River Section 5 around Kooskia Hatchery. Catch rates are still good around Kooskia hatchery
(8 hours/fish) and in the upper South Fork (11 hours/fish). For those of you fishing the South Fork, be sure check around where Meadow Creek flows in. Based on our PIT tag estimates, over 500 fish are returning to this creek, so there may be some chinook congregating in this area.
Based on our creel surveys, we still have 270 spring chinook remaining in our harvest share.
As such, the Mainstem Clearwater River upstream of Orofino Bridge, the Middle Fork Clearwater River, the South Fork Clearwater River, and the Lochsa River will remain open at least through this week.
The next time we will look at the data will be next Tuesday, June 28, so no closures will occur before then. Don’t forget that for all these river reaches (except the South Fork) you can now harvest clipped or unclipped fish to take advantage of the summer chinook salmon that will be passing through.
In addition, Section 1 of the Clearwater River will also be open Friday through Monday (June 24-27) to the harvest of clipped or unclipped chinook.
It seems, the most common question I get regarding the summer chinook is “Where are they?” And as you might guess, the reason anglers are asking this question is because they are having a hard time catching them. Well, the answer is quite simple. There just are not near as many summer chinook returning to the Clearwater basin as spring chinook.
We estimate that close to 12,000 spring chinook will enter the Clearwater basin this year as compared to around 1,300 summer chinook.
This isn’t too surprising seeing we release about 10 times as many spring chinook smolts as summer chinook smolts.
DuPont is the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Clearwater Region Fish Manager.