Idaho’s Chinook Salmon Forecast Scaled Back

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Idaho fish managers have scaled back their estimates of the numbers of Chinook salmon expected to return this spring and summer, but they still expect enough fish to provide excellent fishing opportunities.

“We’re still going to have a robust season,” Idaho Fish and Game fisheries head Ed Schriever told Fish and Game Commissioners during their meeting May 22. “There’s no reason to cut back seasons at this time.”

Spring Chinook fisheries in Oregon and Washington were closed recently when fish did not show up in the numbers expected and anglers exceeded the take of wild salmon allowed under the Endangered Species Act.

Salmon returning to Idaho, though not as many as expected earlier this year, still are expected in numbers four to five times as many as last year, Schriever said.

Fishery managers expect more than 50,000 hatchery fish to pass Lower Granite Dam on their way back to Idaho waters. The preseason forecast had been for more than 83,000.

The commission approved Chinook seasons on the Upper Salmon and the South Fork Salmon rivers, in addition to seasons already open on parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers, and opening May 24 on the Lochsa River.

The Upper Salmon will be open from June 19 until August 2 or until further notice. The South Fork Salmon River will be open from June 25 until further notice.

The forecast number of fish available for nontribal sport fishing for the Snake River from Dug Bar to Hell’s Canyon Dam was revised to 400-500 fish, down from about 1,000. The numbers for the Clearwater Drainage were revised to 4,000-5,000, down from about 8,200. And the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers were revised to 4,200-4,600, from about 9,400.

About 2,300 Chinook are expected in the South Fork, and 400 to 500 are expected in the Upper Salmon River, to be available for nontribal recreational fishing.

That still means good fishing in many parts of Idaho, and fishing in the Upper Salmon, which hasn’t happened in more than 30 years.