Chinook season opened June 3

The Idaho Fish and Game commission reopened spring chinook salmon fishing on portions of the Clearwater River and the Little and Lower Salmon Rivers starting June 3 with several changes to the previous seasons that closed May 24.

The commission also set the summer chinook seasons in portions of the Clearwater River system, South Fork of the Salmon River and Upper Salmon rivers. Those seasons will open June 22, and details will be released later.

The reopened spring fishing season will target jack chinook in the Clearwater River and adult and jack hatchery chinook in the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. Fishing will be limited to Thursday through Sunday weekly.

Anglers should pay special attention to rules on the Clearwater pertaining to harvest of jacks, clipped and unclipped fish, and no adult harvest until June 22 to protect returning spring chinook.

The goal of reopening the seasons is to harvest targeted fish while protecting others, such as wild chinook and adults needed for broodstock at hatcheries.

“We know some of these rules are a little complicated, but the alternative was to keep fishing closed, and we don’t want to do that,” said Lance Hebdon, Fish and Game’s anadromous fish manager.

Fisheries managers anticipate about 1,000 adult and 1,000 jack hatchery chinook will be available for harvest on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, and about 1,000 jacks available in the Clearwater.

Here are more details:

Clearwater River

Fishing resumes June 3 and will be open Thursdays through Sundays until closed by Fish and Game’s director.

Sections open for fishing

• Clearwater River mainstem from the Camas Prairie Railroad bridge upstream to the Highway 12 Bridge below the Potlatch River

• Orofino Bridge upstream to the Five mile Boat Ramp.

• The Middle Fork Clearwater River will be open for fishing from its confluence with the South Fork Clearwater upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.

• The South Fork Clearwater River will be open from the Highway 13 Bridge upstream to a posted boundary 300 yards above the Mt Idaho Grade Road bridge.

Limits and harvest restrictions

Limits will be four salmon per day with no harvest of adults. Only jacks less than 24 inches in length with clipped or unclipped adipose fins may be harvested.

Lower Salmon River and Little Salmon River

The Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers will reopen for fishing June 3 and will be open Thursdays through Sundays and continue until closed by Fish and Game’s director. Only a small sections of the Lower Salmon River will reopen for fishing in order to protect wild chinook.

Sections open for fishing

Fishing will be open on the Lower Salmon River in the Park Hole from Time Zone Bridge upstream to a posted boundary at Shorts Creek.

The Little Salmon River will be open to fishing from the confluence with the Salmon River upstream to the Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.

Limits and harvest restrictions

Limits will be four salmon per day, only two may be adults. Only chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin may be harvested.

Fisheries managers closed the season on May 24 when counts of chinook over Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River were below expectations. Since then, more fish have returned, but still less than earlier forecasted.

“We are confident we will have enough chinook to meet our hatchery broodstock needs and provide some harvest for anglers while protecting wild fish,” Fisheries Bureau Chief Jim Fredericks said.

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