Tag Archives: hells canyon dam

IDFG Reports Some Good News On Steelhead Run


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.


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.”

Fall Chinook Retention Opens On Parts Of Washington’s, Oregon’s Snake


Fall Chinook harvest to open on Snake River

Action: Opens fall Chinook season.

Effective date: Aug. 24 through Oct. 31, 2019

Species affected: Chinook salmon.


A) Snake River from the mouth (Burbank to Pasco Railroad Bridge at Snake River mile 1.25) to Lower Granite Dam.


B) Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream to the Oregon/Idaho border.

Reason for action: The 2019 Columbia River forecasted return of upriver bright adults is 158,400, with a significant portion of these fish expected to return to the Snake River. Adult hatchery fall Chinook, marked by a clipped adipose fin, and all jack chinook over 12 inches can be retained in these sections of the Snake River.

Additional information: Daily limit 6 adult hatchery Chinook, no daily limit for jack Chinook; release all other salmon. Barbless hooks are required when fishing for Chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. Anglers may not continue to fish after their daily adult salmon limit or daily steelhead limit has been retained.

The fishery is open seven days per week. Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All adult Chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. All Washington-licensed anglers must cease fishing for the day after they have retained their daily limit of either steelhead or adult salmon, in order to reduce catch and release mortality on steelhead. In addition, anglers cannot remove any Chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily limit.

Returning unmarked Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery, so anglers should be sure to properly identify their catch.

Low returns of steelhead have been predicted for the Snake River and tributaries this year and returns will be monitored as the season progresses. Anglers should continue to check emergency regulations for new and changing seasons, and refer to the 2019-20 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other rules and regulations.

Fall Chinook season to open on Snake River starting Aug. 24

Enterprise, Ore. – Fall Chinook season will open on the Snake River on Aug. 24 from the Oregon and Washington border upstream to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam.

Snake River fall Chinook are currently making their way up the Columbia River and have entered the Snake River. This past week, fish began to pass Lower Granite Dam. “In the past year, spring Chinook and steelhead numbers have been down in our region, limiting angler opportunity,” said Winston Morton, Acting Assistant District Fish Biologist.  “We are excited about the opportunity this fall for angler’s to fish for salmon in our district.”

The season for this fishery will open this weekend, Aug. 24, and run through Oct. 31, or until further notice and open seven-days per week.  From Oct. 31 to Nov. 17, only the reach of the Snake River from Cliff Mountain Rapid (RM 246.7) upstream to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam will remain open.

The daily bag limit for this season is six (6) adipose fin-clipped fall Chinook per day; with no daily, possession, or season limits on marked or un-marked jack salmon (less than or equal to 24 inches in length). Anglers must cease fishing for salmon for the day when they retain six (6) salmon (non-jack).

Barbless hooks and a Columbia Basin Endorsement are required when angling for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in the Snake River.  All other 2019 Oregon sport fishing regulations apply. Due to limited access in this section, most anglers access this fishery below Hells Canyon Dam or by jet boat.

Managers with the ODFW and Idaho Fish and Game expect a modest run of about 24,500 adult fall Chinook to pass above Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. “While the run size is fifty percent of the ten-year average, we feel fortunate to open this fishery to harvest hatchery surplus fish” said Morton.

Snake River fall Chinook enter the Columbia River during late summer and into the fall and travel nearly 600 miles past eight dams to reach their natal streams.

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