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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 20, 2014 at 11:03 AM

State Fish and Wildlife Snake River spring chinook catch estimates

2014 Snake River Spring Chinook Salmon Effort and Catch Estimates by state Fish and Wildlife:
The Snake River Spring Chinook salmon fishing season started April 24, 2014 for the Little Goose and Clarkston areas (Thursday through Saturday each week); the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite areas started
April 27, 2014 (Sunday through Tuesday each week).

The April 24 opener was windy and rainy with light fishing effort. At that time, fish counts were finally hitting over a hundred Chinook per day at Little Goose, and over 200 per day at Ice Harbor, but only a few dozen fish per day at Lower Granite Dam. A few hatchery Chinook were caught and kept on opening day at Little Goose, but no harvest was documented at Clarkston.

Notes:
1. The north shore just below Lower Granite Dam has a construction project so the US Army Corps has made this area off limits to the public (within the flagged or signed area); shoreline fishing is available downstream, plus along the south shore. The public can cross Lower Granite Dam seven days per week from 7 AM to 5 PM until Memorial Day weekend when the hours are extended to 7 PM.
2. The gate at the wall area along the south shore at Little Goose closes at 5 pm, so the public must leave at that time; it re-opens at 6 AM.
3. The lower fishing boundary for Clarkston is the western power line crossing the Snake River near West Evans Road (not all the way down to West Evans Road).
4. Check all season details in the emergency fishing regulations at: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1430.
5. Once you keep your one adult hatchery Chinook salmon, you must stop fishing for salmon, even without having kept any of the daily limit of jacks.
6. You must release steelhead, bull trout, and trout caught in the Snake River.
The harvest target for the Snake River is 904 adult hatchery Chinook, at least until the Columbia River run update in early May. If the run comes in as predicted, another 405 hatchery adults will be available for harvest.

May 4-6 Effort and Catch Estimate notes from WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel:
Angler effort has increased dramatically for both IHR and LGO compared to the previous week, and also increased at the upper two zones. But, that was expected because the large number of fish passing the Snake River dams daily has also gone way up. There is a big pulse of fish from Bonneville Dam that is currently rippling its way through the Snake River dams (see this website tabs http://www.fpc.org/ and use the fishermen’s updates, the adult salmon counts graphs, and the adult salmon comparison report tabs on the lower half of the page to track fish passing the Columbia and Snake River dams).
No harvest has been documented at Clarkston area yet, but numbers of fish are just beginning to really pick up in that area and angler effort has therefore been light. We were a bit surprised by the harvest estimates last week (see table below for estimates). Our current estimates put us at about half our allotted harvest prior to the run update. The total Snake River harvest allotment based on the preseason prediction is 1,309 hatchery adults (904 prior to the preseason update, and 405 after), but by Tuesday next week, we may have an updated run prediction (that might be higher than originally predicted). We will all have to wait for that run prediction update to see how it affects the Snake River fisheries.
We are predicting approximately 300 fish will be harvested at IHR during May 11-13, and approximately another 200 fish at LGO during the May 8-10 period, which could put us at nearly 1,000 adult salmon harvested in those two zones by the end of May 13. We will be considering closing those areas, possibly sometime next week. Fish managers will be meeting early next week to determine whether the run is coming in as predicted or higher, plus they will determine whether to reopen the lower river fisheries. Unless the run size prediction is increased substantially, we will probably plan on closing IHR and LGO next week (probably after Tuesday) to try to share harvest and fishing opportunity with the upper two Snake River fishing zones. Any closure would be announced at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/ and posted at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/freshwater_river_select.j under Snake River.
April 24-29 Effort and Catch Estimate notes from WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel:
The numbers of fish passing the Snake River dams has been fair and climbing, but we had some very high winds and rain that kept some boat anglers off the water because of white caps. The result has been that fishing pressure has not been very high on most days yet. We have documented some harvest in the Little Goose and Ice Harbor areas, but Clarkston and Lower Granite remain without documented harvest and low levels of effort.
We have a very large pulse of fish passing Bonneville Dam (over 17,000 on April 30) headed upstream, and we already have generally more than 1,000 per day passing Ice Harbor Dam. Counts at Little Goose are nearly 1,000 per day, and there are over 2,000 fish stacked up so far between Lower Monumental and Little Goose dams. Lower Granite counts have been over 200 per day for a few days. The wind and rain are over for now, river flow levels are moderate, and fish numbers are good and getting better, so fishing conditions are looking good for the next several days or more.

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