Over the past week, steelhead angler effort increased on the upper Salmon River. However, overall angler effort remained lower than average for mid-March. Most of the angler effort was observed downstream of North Fork in location code 15 and downstream of the Pahsimeroi River in location code 17. Primarily due to poor river conditions downstream of the Deadwater ice jam, no anglers reported catching steelhead in this area until the weekend. Upstream of Deadwater, river conditions were also unfavorable at the start of the week but improved considerably by Thursday. Anglers interviewed downstream of North Fork in location code 15 averaged 103 hours per steelhead caught, and anglers interviewed downstream of the Lemhi River in location code 16 averaged 48 hours per steelhead caught. Anglers interviewed downstream of the Pahsimeroi River in location code 17 averaged 50 hours per steelhead caught, and anglers interviewed downstream of the East Fork Salmon River in location code 18 averaged 58 hours per steelhead caught. No anglers interviewed in location codes 14 or 19 reported catching a steelhead.
River conditions over the weekend varied depending on the area. Downstream of Deadwater, the river was muddy, and water temperatures were in the low to mid 30s. Between Deadwater and Challis, ID, the river was slightly cloudy with water temperatures in the mid to upper 30s, and upstream of the East Fork, the river was clear with water temperatures in the low 30s. Currently, the Salmon River is flowing at 1,020 cfs through the town of Salmon, ID which is 87 percent of average for today’s date.
The Deadwater ice jam opened up Monday night. River conditions downstream Deadwater were still muddy as of Tuesday morning, but the river’s visibility should improve over the next few days as the remaining ice continues to melt out. Additionally, IDFG ramps at Red Rock, Bobcat Gulch, and North Fork will be cleared of ice this week.
The last thing that we would like to mention is that both the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries now have their weirs installed. As of Monday, March 20th, the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery has trapped 11 adipose-clipped steelhead, and the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery has not trapped any steelhead. Anglers can view up-to-date hatchery trap numbers on the IDFG website at idfg.idaho.gov/d7/fish/steelhead/returns.
Brent Beller | Fisheries Biologist 1 | Idaho Fish and Game