Steelhead fishing this past week on the upper Salmon River was relatively slow compared to previous weeks. Warm temperatures and high winds over the weekend resulted in increased river flows and poor visibility downstream of the East Fork. Angler effort remained high with most anglers found either downstream of North Fork in location code 15, near the Ellis area in location code 17, or downstream of Stanley in location code 19. Interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 9 hours per Steelhead caught and 106 hours per Steelhead kept. Upstream, in location code 15 interviewed anglers averaged 20 hours per Steelhead caught and 61 hours per Steelhead kept. In location code 16, upstream of North Fork, interviewed anglers averaged 19 hours per Steelhead caught and 40 hours per Steelhead kept. Upstream of the Lemhi River, in location code 17, interviewed anglers averaged 35 hours per Steelhead caught and 54 hours per Steelhead kept. In location code 18, upstream of the Pahsimeroi River, interviewed anglers averaged 55 hours per Steelhead caught and 83 hours per Steelhead kept. Location code 19, upstream of the East Fork, was the one area where catch rates remained good throughout the weekend. Interviewed anglers in location code 19 averaged 6 hours per Steelhead caught and 10 hours per Steelhead kept. Although flows upstream of the East Fork increased considerably over the weekend, the water visibility remained clear until Sunday afternoon when it began to cloud up.
As previously mentioned, the water conditions on the upper Salmon River are currently not very favorable for Steelhead fishing. The visibility is poor downstream of the East Fork and cloudy upstream. Additionally, flows have steadily increased for the past few days. Currently, the Salmon River in the town of Salmon is flowing at 1,580 cfs which is 142% of average for today’s date while the Salmon River just downstream of the Yankee Fork, is flowing at 1,210 cfs which is 290% of average for today’s date. Along with flows, water temperatures have also increased with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s recorded downstream of Salmon and temperatures in the low 40s recorded upstream of Challis. Water conditions can change rapidly this time of year and given the upcoming week’s forecast, there is a chance that river conditions may improve by this weekend. For an up to date condition report anglers can call the Idaho Fish and Game Salmon Regional office at (208) 756-2271.
Brent Beller * Fisheries Technician * Idaho Department of Fish and Game – Region 7