Tag Archives: lower granite 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.”

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.


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.


“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.

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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Spill Test Set To Begin On Columbia, Snake; Could Validate Benefits For Outmigrating Smolts

Federal, state and tribal officials have agreed to a three-year trial to see if increasing spill down the Columbia and Snake Rivers can “significantly boost” outmigrating salmon and steelhead smolt numbers.


It’s already believed to, but the deal will allow for more flexible spring operations at eight dams to test the idea beginning next year through 2021, according to a report in the Lewiston Tribune.

“Collaboration is key to this new approach to Columbia River system management. Working together, the region’s states, tribes, and federal agencies have developed an approach that demonstrates environmental stewardship and affordable sustainable energy are not mutually exclusive,” reads a joint statement from “key supporters” of the agreement.

The parties include the Nez Perce Tribe, Oregon, Washington, BPA, Army Corps and Bureau of Reclamation. The states of Idaho and Montana are also on board with it.

The trial will include the four Lower Snake dams in Washington and the four on the shared Columbia between Washington and Oregon.

Both states will need to “harmonize” how they measure total dissolved gas measured below the spillways, with Washington’s Department of Ecology needing to up its allowance by early April and consider boosting it to 125 percent for tests in 2020.

A 2017 report by the Fish Passage Center says that “increasing spill for fish passage within the safe limits of 125% total dissolved gas has a high probability of improving smolt to adult return rates.”

The more fish, the more for fishermen of all fleets to catch and orcas to eat as well as escaping to spawn in the wild.

“It’s incremental progress at time when Columbia River spring Chinook are projected to return at very low numbers,” said spill advocate Liz Hamilton at the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, who added that it was “hardly the bold action we were seeking in (Governor Jay Inslee’s) Orca task force prey work group.”

She said NSIA will be watching closely, especially as dissolved gas levels are ramped up to the 125 percent benchmark.

“It can’t happen soon enough,” she said.

But concerns have been raised that spilling water will reduce electrical generation capacity in the hydropower system, and according to outdoor reporter Eric Barker’s piece in the Tribune, this week’s agreement was panned by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who also introduced a bill in the House this year against it.

In early 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon, who has been overseeing a long-running case over Columbia salmon and dam management, had ordered spill to occur.