Steelhead have started to arrive in the upper Salmon River, and department personnel began interviewing anglers on Friday, October 2nd. The majority of steelhead anglers were found fishing downstream of North Fork in location code 15, while angler effort downstream of the Middle Fork Salmon River in location code 14 and upstream of North Fork in location code 16 was low. Interviewed anglers did not report catching a steelhead this weekend, but we expect that to change quickly as additional steelhead move into the area. The Salmon River had clear visibility throughout the weekend, and river temperatures were in the mid to upper 50s. Currently, the river is flowing at 963 cfs through the town of Salmon, ID, which is 80 percent of average for today’s date.
Low hatchery steelhead returns to Idaho during fall 2018 and fall 2019 prompted IDFG to implement a one steelhead per day bag limit for those seasons. Based on PIT tag estimates at Bonneville Dam, the number of hatchery steelhead destined for the upper Salmon River this fall is higher than either of the previous two years but still only ranks 8th out of the last 10 years. Having more hatchery steelhead headed to the upper Salmon River allowed us to increase the daily bag limit for the fall 2020 fishery to 2 hatchery steelhead per day with a possession limit of 6 hatchery steelhead. Additionally, the run timing this year is closer to average and is approximately two weeks ahead of what was observed last year at Lower Granite Dam.
We would also like to remind anglers to once again be on the lookout for floy tagged steelhead. The University of Idaho, in cooperation with IDFG, is in the second year of a multiyear study to look at the influence of catch and release angling on wild steelhead. More information regarding this study can be found on the IDFG website at: https://idfg.idaho.gov/blog/2020/10/report-tagged-steelhead-second-year-graduate-study-underway. Study updates are posted monthly to the IDFG website. Anglers that catch a floy tagged steelhead are encouraged to remove the tag by clipping it off at the base, and then report the tag number and catch location to IDFG by using either the phone number printed on the tag or by going to the “Tag You’re It” website at: www.tag.idaho.gov.
by Brent Beller | Fisheries Biologist 1 | Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission | Idaho Department of Fish and Game – Region 7