Anglers Have Shot
Number of fish returning to Idaho rivers continues to look relatively strong
LEWISTON -- Idaho anglers will be able to catch and keep nearly 10,000 hatchery spring chinook, according to the latest harvest share estimates from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The number of fish passing Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River has averaged 3,270 per day over the last week, and fisheries managers believe springers bound for tributaries above the dam will reach 180,000.
The 123,597 counted at Bonneville Dam through Wednesday is more than double last year's tally and outpacing the 10-year average of 92,020.
At Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River, daily fish counts averaged about 2,400 from May 12 through Wednesday. Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, estimates the spring run at Bonneville Dam is likely 85% to 90% done and an increasing percentage of the fish counted there will be summer chinook.
He is forecasting anglers on the Clearwater River will be able to catch and keep about 5,800 spring hatchery chinook and those targeting Rapid River-bound fish will be able to harvest about 4,000 from the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.
DuPont also is checking the return of spring chinook jacks. Conditions in the northern Pacific Ocean last year were the second best recorded in a 24-year data set. That could mean a good run in 2023. Fisheries managers keep tabs on the return of jack chinook -- those that spend only one year in the ocean instead of two or three -- to predict how the run will fare the following year. A healthy return of jacks can often mean the following year will see a correspondingly large return of adult salmon.
In his weekly run update, DuPont said the jack return as of Monday was ahead of last year's count and the 10-year average, and the best recorded since 2014.
"It appears that the jack return is peaking right now, which hopefully means we will see continued high numbers for another week," he said. "The good news is this jack return suggests that next year's adult spring chinook salmon return will be better than what we are seeing this year."
Anglers on the Clearwater River have caught an estimated 458 adult chinook, according to creel surveys. Most of the harvest, 403 adult fish, occurred on the lower section of the river between the Railroad Bridge at Lewiston and the Cherrylane Bridge. That leaves anglers fishing that section about 1,300 fish to catch. The department attempts to manage the fishery so that harvest is equitably distributed along various stretches of the river and its tributaries.
Anglers on the lower Salmon River harvested an estimated 19 adult fish last week.
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