F & G Commissioners Set Spring Salmon Seasons

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The Idaho spring Chinook salmon season is set to begin a half hour before sunrise on Saturday, April 26, on parts of the Snake, Clearwater, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

It opens on May 24 on the Lochsa River. Commissioners are expected to consider seasons on the South Fork Salmon River and the upper Salmon River in May.

Though only 24 Chinook salmon, as of Sunday, April 20, have crossed the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River, nearly 100,000 are expected to cross the dam and return to Idaho this year.

Chinook fishing will open on the Snake River from the Dug Bar boat ramp upstream to Hells Canyon Dam; on the mainstem Clearwater River from the Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge at Lewiston upstream to the South Fork Clearwater River; on the North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam; on the South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the confluence of the American and Red rivers; and on the Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.

The Lochsa River will be open, starting May 24, from its mouth upstream to the Twin Bridges immediately upstream from the confluence of Crooked Fork and Colt Killed Creek.

These above segments will be open until July 20 or further notice, whichever comes first.

The Lower Salmon River will be open from the Hammer Creek boat ramp upstream to a posted boundary at the mouth of Short’s Creek – about 1.4 miles upstream of the mouth of the Little Salmon River – until June 22 or until further notice.

The Little Salmon River will be open from a posted boundary at its mouth upstream to U. S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road will be open until August 3 or further notice.

Access to salmon fishing on the Little Salmon River for those without boats in the Riggins area will be more limited this year than in the past because of the loss of some bank access.

Fishery managers are asking boat anglers in the Riggins City Park Hole to avoid mooring or anchoring along the western shoreline between the City Park boat ramp and the mouth of the Little Salmon River, where one or two boats can block access for a dozen or more shore anglers.

“A little courtesy goes a long way toward ensuring an enjoyable fishing trip for everyone,” said Larry Barrett, senior fisheries technician for Idaho Fish and Game.

Fishing hours are from one half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, local time, seven days a week until the seasons close. Waters not specifically designated remain closed to fishing for Chinook salmon.

Limits in the Clearwater River drainage are two per day, six in possession. On the Snake, Lower Salmon, and Little Salmon Rivers limits are three per day, nine in possession. The statewide limit for adult Chinook is 40 for the season.

Only hatchery Chinook salmon with a clipped adipose fin – evidenced by a healed scar – may be kept. All salmon with an intact adipose fin must be released immediately. Any salmon caught in a legal manner must be released or killed immediately after landing.

The rules have changed for jack Chinook salmon this year. A jack is any Chinook less than 24 inches long. Anglers may keep two adipose-fin-clipped jacks per day and have six in possession in addition to the adult Chinook daily and possession limits. But they don’t have to record the jacks on their permit.

When the adult possession limit is reached, the angler must stop all fishing for salmon, including catch and-release and for jacks.

Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than 5/8 inch from the point to the shank. It is unlawful to take or fish for salmon by snagging. In the Lochsa River, salmon may only be taken with artificial flies and lures with one barbless hook per fly or lure – no bait. A single hook may have up to three points.

Anglers must have a valid fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon, except on Free Fishing Day, June 7. Any nonresident 14 and older must buy a nonresident season fishing license and salmon permit, a nonresident junior fishing license and salmon permit, or a three-day salmon license.

Please consult the 2008-2009 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure for additional rules, license costs and other information.