considering an Idaho Department of Fish and Game proposal to reopen steelhead
fishing for hatchery fish smaller than 28 inches and with a reduced bag limit,
the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decided instead to ask for public input on
angling in Idaho has been limited to catch and release fishing since August 14
when IDFG closed the fall steelhead harvest because the run of Idaho steelhead,
which already had been forecasted to be lower than average, was returning in
even smaller numbers or they were later than expected.
a special call-in meeting Monday, October 2, the Commission postponed a
decision on the staff proposal until after a public comment period. The
Commission will revisit its decision on reopening steelhead fishing at a
meeting the week of October 23.
the August closure, IDFG said it would continue to monitor the steelhead run
and either add restrictions or restore harvest if hatchery needs are met and
additional hatchery fish are available for harvest. Numbers of steelhead
showing up in Idaho waters began to steadily improve through September, IDFG
returns have rebounded and are now tracking along with the preseason forecast
with over 113,000 expected to cross Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River,” said
Lance Hebdon, anadromous fish manager for Fish and Game. “Returns projected to
Idaho based on known Idaho fish passing Bonneville Dam are now enough to
provide a harvest of hatchery steelhead, but with smaller bag limits.”
estimates about 22,000 hatchery steelhead above broodstock needs are destined
for Idaho rivers. Most of those fish have already been counted at Bonneville
Dam. The hatchery fish (both A-run, which are under 28 inches, and the larger
B-run) are produced as mitigation for lost fishing opportunity associated with
federal and Idaho Power dams in the basin.
of Wednesday, October 4, some 113,687 steelhead had passed Bonneville Dam, with
33,209 of those wild fish. Last year on this same date, 179,574 steelhead had
passed the dam, with 49,824 wild, and the 10-year average is 322,650 with 107,942
41,739 steelhead had passed Lower Granite Dam as of October 4 (some of the
count is from earlier migrations of winter steelhead), with 9,425 wild. Last
year on this same date, 54,024 had passed Lower Granite with 13,428 wild and
the 10-year average is 107,492 with 29,351 wild.
proposal is to reduce the traditional daily bag limit from three to two in the
Snake and Salmon rivers, with additional restrictions in the Clearwater and
lower Snake and limiting harvest to two steelhead less than 28 inches. Only hatchery fish with adipose fins clipped
can be kept. The size restriction protects the larger B-run steelhead that are
still not abundant enough to provide harvest without risking overharvesting
fish needed to replenish hatcheries, IDFG said.
the proposal, wild fish, particularly B-run wild steelhead whose numbers are
low this year, remain protected. Wildlife managers pointed out that Idaho had
low wild returns in the past when there were abundant hatchery returns.
its update Monday, September 25, the U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee
increased its forecasted number of the combined A- and B-run summer steelhead
to 113,200 fish at Bonneville Dam. Based on the recent five-year average run
timing, 92 percent of the run is complete by September 24. The week of
September 18, TAC estimated the combined run size at 107,800 steelhead, with
106,700 A-run fish, including 78,800 hatchery and 27,900 wild steelhead.
TAC downgraded September 25 the B-run size to 6,500, down from the September 18
estimate of 8,500 fish. Some 5,500 of those are hatchery steelhead and 1,000
are wild steelhead.
CBB, September 29, 2017, “Treaty Fishing Gets Another Week; B-Run Steelhead
Downgraded To 6,500 Fish, 1,000 Wild,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439638.aspx)
wild steelhead returns were as low or lower than this year as late as 2007-08,”
IDFG said. “But wild returns quickly rebounded after river and ocean conditions
takes a conservative approach to managing wild steelhead” Hebdon said. “We
don’t allow any harvest of wild steelhead. About 85 percent of the wild
steelhead habitat in Idaho is closed to all steelhead fishing, so the only
impact to wild steelhead is associated with catch-and-release handling
incidental to both catch-and-release and harvest fisheries targeting hatchery
hatchery fish and releasing wild fish has proven to be an effective
conservation tool," Hebdon added. "We will continue to monitor wild
steelhead populations in Idaho and are confident that the implementation of
Idaho’s steelhead sport fisheries are not a risk to the goal of rebuilding wild
noted that Idaho has had essentially the same steelhead fishing rules since the
1990s with occasional changes to account for smaller returns, like this year’s.
complete proposal is at https://idfg.idaho.gov/blog/2017/10/2017-proposal-open-steelhead-harvest-fishery-snake-salmon-and-clearwater-rivers.
comments should be made by email or phone to their local regional fishery
DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager, email@example.com;
Schoby, Salmon Region Fishery Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org; 208-756-2271
Allen, Southwest Region (McCall) Fishery Manager, email@example.com;
September 1, 2017, “Record Low Steelhead Run Spurs Closures, Reduced Bag
Limits; Return Only 30 Percent Of Average,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439509.aspx
August 25, 2017, “Fall Commercial Fishing Begins On Columbia, Low Steelhead
Numbers Prompts Idaho To Suspend Retention,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439475.aspx
July 28, 2017, “Fall Fishing Opens To Lower Than Usual Chinook Returns; Season
Includes Rolling Steelhead Closure,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439345.aspx
Idaho Approves Coho Season Oct. 17; Once Extinct, Now Back With Nez Perce Tribe
Idaho Fish and Game commissioners on Oct. 2 set a fishing season for coho
salmon, which will run Oct. 17 through Nov. 16, or until further notice.
will be open on sections of the Clearwater, South Fork of the Clearwater and
North Fork of the Clearwater. Fishing for coho salmon is permitted daily and
24-hours a day during the designated season and locations.
limits will be two coho daily, six in possession and 10 during the 2017 season.
Coho season limit is in addition to the chinook season limit. Coho Salmon with
an attached adipose fin can be harvested. Anglers must have a valid salmon
permit to keep coho.
should beware that steelhead and fall chinook fishing seasons occur in the same
waters, and they must have a clipped adipose fin to be kept. Know the
difference between these species.
were reintroduced into the Clearwater River system by the Nez Perce Tribe, and
Idaho held its first coho sport fishing season in 2014.
year’s return is enough to replenish hatcheries and provide a modest sport
fishing harvest. Through October 4, 2,874 coho adults and 140 coho jacks had
crossed Lower Granite Dam about 30 miles downstream from Lewiston. Last year on
the same date, 1,252 adults and 162 jacks had passed. The 10-year average is
1,978 adults and 187 jacks.
were declared functionally extinct in 1985 after counts at Lower Granite
flat-lined at zero in the 1980s. Annual adult coho counts at Lower Granite from
1984-1996 registered zero 10 times with a total of 11 tallied combined in the
three other years.
salmon once returned to the Clearwater River Basin (tributary to the Snake
River) in abundance and supported an important fall tribal fishery.
efforts to restore coho during the 1960s failed. Snake River coho were never
listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Nez Perce Tribe’s reintroduction
program began in 1995 with hatchery coho releases into the Clearwater River.
CBB, Nov. 14, 2014, “Historic Coho Season Ends In Idaho; Record 18,000 Cross
Lower Granite, 6 Times 10-Year Average” http://www.cbbulletin.com/432624.aspx