Tag Archives: a-run steelhead

IDFG Reports Some Good News On Steelhead Run

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

On Nov. 15, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission extended the current bag limits for steelhead fishing (one fish per day, three in possession) on portions of the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers for the 2020 spring steelhead season, which begins January 1.

According to Jim Fredericks, Fisheries Bureau Chief for Idaho Fish and Game, the hatchery steelhead return in the Snake and Salmon rivers is high enough to continue allowing anglers limited harvest opportunities.

(IDFG)

Biologists are already trapping adult steelhead on the Snake River at Hells Canyon Dam and will continue to do so into the spring, but Fish and Game is well on its way to meeting broodstock goals, Fredericks said.

Meanwhile, trapping at the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries does not begin until spring, but biologists are confident that continuing the one fish per day limit on the Salmon River through the spring will allow them to meet their broodstock needs.

“All of that is good news,” Fredericks said.

There was also some good news for Clearwater River steelhead. As a result of coordinated management actions with tribal and state partners, and additional emergency measures in Idaho, it now appears that returns will be sufficient to meet broodstock targets for Clearwater River hatcheries.

The commission closed steelhead fishing entirely on the Clearwater River in September, as well as the Snake River below Couse Creek. The closure came amid concerns that returns would not be sufficient to meet broodstock needs for the Clearwater hatcheries due to low returns of larger B-run steelhead, which typically spend two years in the ocean before returning to Idaho to spawn.

The low forecast prompted coordinated management between other state and tribal partners in the Columbia and Snake river basins in an effort to reduce impacts to hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater Basin. As a result, a higher-than-average percentage of adult steelhead survived the journey from Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River to Lower Granite Dam, which is about 25 miles downstream from Lewiston, increasing the projection of steelhead returning to the Clearwater.

To further bolster returns to the Clearwater River basin, managers initiated emergency broodstock trapping efforts at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery and at Lower Granite Dam. In addition to taking a higher percentage of fish in the fall at Dworshak Hatchery than are normally collected, managers are collecting fish from the trap at Lower Granite Dam and taking them directly to the Dworshak Fish Hatchery.

Thanks to the coordinated management and increased trapping efforts, between 700 and 800 of the 1,000 steelhead needed for broodstock at the Dworshak hatchery have already been trapped. An additional 350 adults need to be collected from the South Fork of the Clearwater, which will likely occur in the spring.

“We are fairly confident now that we’ll be able to achieve our Clearwater broodstock needs, and we don’t expect that we’re going to need to rely on the smaller 1-ocean fish, those smaller than 28 inches, because of the conversion of those larger, B-run fish,” Fredericks said.

Fish and Game is projecting that there could be about 1,000 of the smaller A-run steelhead in the Clearwater River system that will be in excess of broodstock needs, and Fish and Game managers will continue to coordinate with partners, including the Nez Perce Tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, to evaluate a potential fishing season on the Clearwater River in early 2020. Anglers can expect more information by late December.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to provide some catch-and-release opportunity at a minimum, and possibly some level of harvest,” Fredericks said. “But we do need to continue to monitor broodstock collection and make sure we’re going to get there, and coordinate with our management partners.”

Most Of Washington Snake Closing For Steelhead; Chinook Fisheries Also Reduced

Washington fishery managers shut down steelheading on most of the state’s Snake and modified fall Chinook seasons on the river, all to protect low numbers of wild and hatchery B-runs bound for Idaho.

The changes take effect tomorrow, Sept. 29.

SNAKE STEELHEAD RUNS HAVE GONE FROM GOOD, WHEN THIS YOUNG ANGLER CAUGHT THIS ONE OFF WAWAWAI MUCH EARLIER THIS DECADE, TO BAD AND NOW WORSE IN RECENT YEARS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

A pair of emergency rule change notices out late this afternoon have the details, but essentially both catch-and-release and retention of steelhead will end from the mouth of the Snake up to the Couse Creek boat ramp, in Hells Canyon.

It’s being done to “ensure that sufficient numbers of both wild and hatchery B-index fish return to their natal tributaries and hatcheries of origin in Idaho,” WDFW states.

It follows on the agency’s previous reduction of the hatchery steelhead limit on the Snake from three to one as this year’s overall run has come in way below the preseason forecast of 118,200 smaller A- and larger B-runs, with just 69,200 now expected to pass Bonneville Dam.

Steelhead fisheries were restricted on the Columbia throughout the summer, and tomorrow, a slate of closures on Idaho waters takes effect.

Inland Northwest steelhead runs have not been good since 2016, with recent years seeing reduced limits and closures up and down the system. This year’s run will be among the lowest on record.

Meanwhile, WDFW is also reducing the fall Chinook fishery on the Snake, again to protect B-runs.

They’re closing it below Lower Granite Dam, except for a 1.4-mile “Lyons Ferry Bubble Fishery” from the Highway 261 bridge downstream.

And they’re reducing the amount of time the waters above and below Clarkston were set to stay open, from through Oct. 31 to now just Oct. 13.

Above Couse Creek, Chinook season continues through Halloween.

BILL STANLEY SHOWS OFF A FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE SNAKE IN A PAST SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

“The Fall Chinook return is large enough to continue to allow some harvest opportunities within the Snake River fisheries, while providing protection of B-index steelhead,” the agency stated in an e-reg.

Honestly, even as managers are both trying to protect critically low stocks and eke out fishing opportunity on stronger ones, it’s a bit much to wrap your head around at the end of an 8-5 shift.

Best bet is to refer to the eregs in the links above.

Steelheading To Close On Clearwater, Snake; IDFG: ‘No Surplus’ For Fishery

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

On Friday, Sept. 20, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to close all steelhead seasons on the Clearwater River because the number of returning adult hatchery fish is less than the number needed for broodstock, and there is no surplus to provide a fishery.

IDAHO’S STEELHEADING CLOSURE MEANS THAT EVEN CATCH-AND-RELEASE FISHING FOR UNCLIPPED A- AND B-RUNS, LIKE THIS ONE LANDED ON THE SOUTH FORK CLEARWATER, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE CLEARWATER DRAINAGE. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

The closure is effective at midnight on Sept. 29, 2019, and covers the Clearwater River upstream to the confluence of the Middle Fork and South Fork, along with the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork tributaries. The section of the Snake River downstream from the Couse Creek boat ramp to the Idaho/Washington state line will also be closed to protect Clearwater-bound steelhead. The closure in the Clearwater River drainage is consistent with harvest restrictions put in place in fisheries on the mainstem Columbia River by the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Departments.

Consistent with existing rules that prohibit targeting steelhead or salmon where there is no open season, anglers will not be allowed to fish for steelhead in the Clearwater River drainage after the fishery is closed, even catch-and-release.

The Clearwater River drainage closure is in addition to the already-restricted fishery the commission approved for statewide steelhead fishing during their August meeting. The existing seasons remain in place for steelhead fisheries in the Salmon and Snake river basins.

Idaho Fish and Game biologists have been tracking steelhead returns closely, and the number of Clearwater-bound hatchery steelhead has continued to fall short of projections. According to Lance Hebdon, anadromous fishery manager for Idaho Fish and Game, while the return of wild, Clearwater-bound steelhead is tracking close to the preseason forecast, the return of hatchery-origin steelhead to the Clearwater River is substantially below what was expected.

Through Sept. 18, biologists estimate about 1,158 hatchery steelhead destined for the Clearwater River have passed Bonneville Dam based on PIT tags. The small, electronic tags are embedded in fish and help biologists know which river migrating steelhead are destined for. On average, about 50 percent of the hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater River would have passed Bonneville Dam by Sept. 18.

“Based on average run timing, we estimate that this will result in approximately 2,300 fish crossing Bonneville Dam by the end of the season,” Hebdon said. “The result for Idaho anglers is that only 1,700 hatchery steelhead destined for the Clearwater River will make it to Lower Granite Dam by the end of the season.”

In order to meet broodstock needs for Clearwater River hatcheries (a total of 1,352 fish), 100 percent of the steelhead destined for the North Fork Clearwater River, and a high percentage of the fish destined for the South Fork Clearwater River would have to be collected, leaving no surplus fish for harvest.

Although the steelhead fishery will be closed in the Clearwater River basin, there will be no changes to the ongoing fall Chinook season, which is scheduled to close on Oct. 13. In addition, the commission approved a Coho salmon fishery in the Clearwater River basin during their conference call on Sept. 20. This Coho fishery is open effective immediately, and will run concurrent with the fall Chinook fishery.

Because these fisheries will close Oct. 13, or earlier if catch limits are attained, any incidental impact on Clearwater hatchery steelhead is expected to be minimal.

“Early in the fall, many of the steelhead in the Clearwater river basin are actually fish destined for the Salmon and Grande Ronde rivers, which have pulled into the Clearwater until water temperatures in the Snake River start to cool off,” Hebdon said. “The main component of the Clearwater River steelhead run starts arriving in the middle of October.”

Columbia King Managers Decide Against 1-day Lower River Opener

Columbia fall Chinook managers today reduced the bag limit in the Hanford Reach to one but also passed on a lower river reopener in favor of giving gorge pools anglers continued access to this year’s run.

WDFW and ODFW staffers had recommended opening the big river from Buoy 10 to Bonneville this Saturday for fall kings after the URB component forecast was upgraded slightly, from 159,200 to 167,200.

COLUMBIA SALMON MANAGERS DECIDED AGAINST REOPENING THE LOWER RIVER FOR ONE DAY OF CHINOOK RETENTION. STEVE MEUCHEL AND KARI WILLARD CAUGHT THIS PAIR OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN ST. HELENS AREA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

That would have coincided with sturgeon retention (above Wauna) and was modeled to yield a catch of 950 kings.

It would also have taken upriver bright, or URB, catch-plus-release mortalities to 99 percent of what managers are allowing this season.

(The fishery was closed earlier this month three days early after exceeding the initial URB allocation for that runsize and stretch of water.)

But during a midafternoon conference call there was only mixed support for the one-day opener, with state sportfishing advisors in favor and the general public not.

Some didn’t have any appetite for all the days anglers would subsequently lose on the Columbia between Bonneville and Highway 395 in Tri-Cities, which would be forced to close much earlier than scheduled to provide the room for the lower reopener.

Dan Grogan of Fisherman’s Marine called that “absolutely ludicrous,” while others talked to issues of fairness and upriver anglers taking it in the shorts for lower fishermen’s opportunities in the past.

It would also cut into apparently better-than-is-being-let-on fishing in the pools, if images from Fish Camp this week and one advisor’s report are any indication.

The call also confirmed continuing concerns on two fronts: tule Chinook broodstock, and steelhead.

WDFW’s Bill Tweit warned that Drano Lake king catches were being watched very closely and it wasn’t clear how long the fishery would stay open.

Managers are worried about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Little White Salmon and Spring Creek Hatcheries collecting enough adult tules for spawning. While the latter facility is seeing good numbers, a lot are also jacks.

As for steelhead, the run has again been downgraded, the fourth time in the past few weeks, now to 69,200, with just 2,500 B-runs expected.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is meeting Friday and could shut down all fishing for steelhead on the Clearwater and much of the shared Snake, and Washington will likely follow suit, Tweit indicated.

WDFW and ODFW were also advised they needed to put out a statement directing anglers to not even catch-and-release steelhead in areas where they’ve been closed to retention due to the low return.

As for Hanford Reach URBs, with only 22,121 wild kings expected to spawn in the free-flowing section of the Columbia — well below the escapement goal of 31,100 — the daily limit will drop from two to one starting Friday, Sept. 20, WDFW announced this morning.

Even though the Reach and the Columbia from McNary downstream are managed under two different plans, it might not have looked very good to have allowed downriver fishermen to intercept 500 or so URBs needed up at Hanford as anglers there see their catch reduced.

In other Columbia Chinook news, yesterday tribal managers OKed six more days of commercial gillnetting in the gorge pools, which will bring the URB catch to 15,375 of the 38,456 available at current run sizes.

Columbia-Snake Steelhead Run Again Downgraded; Treaty Salmon Fishery Set

Columbia fishery managers heard more grim news about this year’s steelhead run, now forecast to come in at 71,600, the third downgrade from the preseason forecast.

WILD UNCLIPPED A- AND B-RUN STEELHEAD ARE OUTPACING HATCHERY RETURNS SO FAR AT BONNEVILLE, SOMETHING THAT “HAS NOT BEEN OBSERVED” IN THE QUARTER CENTURY OF TALLYING THE DIFFERENCE AT THE DAM. (BRIAN LULL)

Weaker than expected hatchery A-run numbers continue to largely be to blame, but B-runs, which return later and haven’t been updated, are now also “tracking below expectations.”

The preseason forecast was 118,200 As and Bs, but was dropped to 86,000 on Aug. 28 and 74,000 on Sept. 3.

Unusually, more unclipped summers have been tallied at Bonneville than clipped fish, 29,658 to 26,856 since July 1, something that “has not been observed” at the dam since managers began counting the number of adult steelhead with and without adipose fins in 1994, according to today’s fact sheet.

The new forecast calls for 35,000 unclipped steelhead.

Also troubling — though not concrete — is that Dworshak Hatchery-bound fish are “almost absent, based on PIT tags,” WDFW’s Bill Tweit said during a state-tribal conference call this morning.

PIT tags are passive integrated transponders placed in smolts at the hatchery or in the wild and which record a fish’s passage to and from the ocean.

If the steelhead run comes in at this new low forecast, it would be the worst since at least 1984.

Already, state managers have shut down retention on large sections of the Columbia, extended it in some places and reduced upriver bag limits from three to one for when the fish arrive in Southeast Washington, Northeast Oregon and Central Idaho streams.

The main thrust of today’s call, however, was to hear about CRITFC plans to hold a two-and-a-half-day tribal commercial gillnetting opener in Zone 6, the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day Pools, from 6 a.m., Monday, Sept. 16 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 18.

According to the fact sheet, it and a “late fall platform” fishery are modeled to bring the tribal harvest in the fall management period to 28,448 Chinook, including 11,794 upriver brights and 2,152 steelhead, including 425 B-runs.

The fact sheet states that at current run forecasts, that would leave 24,834 URBs for tribal fisheries. It also says that based on typical run timing, the goal of getting at least 60,000 past McNary Dam will be met.

While URBs, which spawn in the Hanford Reach and Snake River and provide sportfisheries there and in the aforementioned pools, are “tracking similar to pre-season expectations,” there is more concern about Columbia Gorge hatchery tule returns meeting broodstock needs.

CRITFC’s Stuart Ellis acknowledged that it “seems likely we will be quite tight” in reaching goals at Spring Creek Hatchery, but that if necessary, Bonneville Hatchery fish could be substituted as they are the same strain.

When ODFW’s John North asked other tribes, WDFW, NOAA and the public for comment on the proposed tribal opener, none was given.

State managers did query Ellis about a preliminary estimated catch of “0” steelhead during last week’s tribal Chinook fishery, to which he explained that none had been sampled, leading to the zero for that week. He also said that actual steelhead catches had been less than were being modeled.

He added that managers need to keep an eye on the Dworshak situation.

ODFW’s Jeff Whistler, who chairs the Technical Advisory Committee, which puts out run updates, said that one for A- and B-run steelhead, URBs and tules was “quite likely” to come out next Monday.

In a weekly newsletter out last Friday evening, NSIA noted that TAC was also reviewing Chinook passage at Bonneville this past Monday and that managers “have committed to acting as quickly as possible to reopen chinook fishing from Warrior Rock to Bonneville if the passage numbers warrant.”

No sport fisheries were proposed today, but next week’s update might show whether any are possible.

Deschutes Mouth Plume In Columbia Again Closed To All Fishing

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Per direction from the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their Aug. 2 meeting, ODFW is closing all fishing (including catch-and-release) in the Columbia River around the mouth of the Deschutes River and in the lower Deschutes River from the mouth upstream to markers placed on the downstream end of Moody Rapids, from Monday, Aug. 12 through Sept. 15.

The closure is to protect wild summer steelhead and follows several other regulatory steps ODFW and WDFW have taken to protect wild steelhead this year. Returns of ESA-listed wild Snake River steelhead this year are forecasted to be similar to the extremely poor return of 2017, and there are ongoing concerns about the potential effects of angling on wild steelhead that may gather in cooler water near tributary mouths like the Deschutes.

The boundary of the angling closure is defined by a line projecting from the South Channel Range “B” marker located approximately 3/4-mile upstream of the mouth of the Deschutes, downstream through Red Buoy Marker “4”, and terminating at the flashing red USCG light #2 on the Oregon shore downstream of the mouth. (See map on Columbia River Zone fishing regulations page.)

The Commission directed ODFW to take similar steps to close the mouth of the Deschutes last year. Based on additional discussions with the public and regional biologists, the boundary of this year’s closure has been refined to reduce the impact on Chinook fishing opportunities.

This action follows a number of regulatory steps ODFW and WDFW have taken to protect wild steelhead during Columbia River summer and fall fisheries this year. Bag limits in the Columbia River were reduced to one hatchery steelhead per day for the month of July. For fall fisheries, all steelhead (hatchery and wild) must be released during the following periods:

  • Aug. 1-31 from Buoy 10 upstream to The Dalles Dam,
  • Aug. 1 – Sept. 30 from The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam,
  • Sept. 1 – Oct. 31 from John Day to McNary Dam, and
  • Oct. 1 – Nov. 30 from McNary Dam upstream to the OR/WA state line.

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

Steelheaders Now Required To Stop Fishing After First Keeper On SE WA Rivers

THE FOLLOWING ARE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICES FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Eastern Washington steelhead fishery change

Action: Change the daily limit on steelhead to one hatchery fish. Anglers must stop fishing for steelhead once they reach the daily limit.

STEELHEADERS ON THE GRANDE RONDE AND OTHER SOUTHEAST WASHINGTON RIVERS WILL HAVE TO QUIT FISHING ONCE THEY RETAIN THEIR FIRST HATCHERY FISH, WDFW HAS ANNOUNCED. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: Immediately through April 15, 2019.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Location:

Grande Ronde River: From mouth to the Washington/Oregon state line.

Touchet River: From the mouth to the confluence of the North and South Forks.

Tucannon River: From the mouth to the Tucannon Hatchery Road Bridge.

Walla Walla River: From the mouth to the Washington/Oregon state line.

Reason for action: The 2018 Columbia River forecasted return for upriver steelhead was 190,350. The U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Aug. 26 to review the A/B-Index steelhead passage at Bonneville Dam. TAC downgraded the total expected A/B-Index steelhead run size at Bonneville to 96,500. The run was adjusted again on Sept. 25 to a total of 92,800 A/B Index steelhead with 69,500 clipped and 28,300 unclipped fish. With continued concerns between co-managers for A run steelhead and impacts to wild fish, the department believes it is important to reduce daily limits to protect steelhead within the river network.

Additional information: All steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for steelhead.

Anglers should be sure to identify their catch, as chinook and coho salmon may be present during this fishery and are not open to harvest. Anglers cannot remove any chinook, coho or steelhead from the water if it is not retained as part of the daily bag limit. Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits and safety closures. Please continue to check emergency rules if you are planning to fish for steelhead within the affected area.

Information contact: Jeremy Trump, District 3 Fish Biologist (509) 382-1005

Snake River steelhead fishery change

Action: Changes the daily limit on steelhead to one hatchery fish. Anglers must stop fishing for steelhead once they reach the daily limit

Effective date: Immediately through March 31, 2019.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Location:  Snake River from the mouth (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge at Snake River mile 1.25) to the Oregon State line (approximately seven miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River)

Reason for action: The 2018 Columbia River forecasted return for upriver steelhead was 190,350. The U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Aug. 26 to review the A/B-Index steelhead passage at Bonneville Dam. TAC downgraded the total expected A/B-Index steelhead run size at Bonneville to 96,500. The run was adjusted again on Sept. 25 to a total of 92,800 A/B Index steelhead with 69,500 clipped and 28,300 unclipped fish. With continued concerns between co-managers for A run steelhead and impacts to wild fish, the Department believes it is important to reduce limits to protect steelhead within the Snake River.

Additional information:  All steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for steelhead and. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch, as chinook and coho salmon may be present during this fishery and are not open to harvest. Anglers cannot remove any chinook, coho or steelhead from the water if not retained as part of the daily bag limit. Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2018/2019 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, etc.

Please continue to check emergency rules if you are planning to fish for steelhead within the affected area.

Information contact: Jeremy Trump, District 3 Fish Biologist (509) 382-1005