Reduced Chinook fishing on Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers

Two sections currently open on Lower Salmon will close at midnight on June 8.

The Fish and Game Commission changed fishing to four days per week, Thursday through Sunday, on the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers starting Saturday, June 9, and anglers will also have a reduced daily bag limit on that date.

Two stretches of the Lower Salmon will also close at midnight on June 8 and not reopen this season, which are:

The stretch of the Lower Salmon River from mouth of Shorts Creek upstream to the boat ramp at Vinegar Creek.
Lower Salmon River from Rice Creek bridge upstream ot the southernmost of Twin Bridges that cross the Salmon River.

Bag limits will be reduced on June 9 to four Chinook per day, only one of which may be an adult, and the possession limit to 12, of which only three may be adults.

Chinook have arrived in the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and anglers are starting to catch them, but the expected return to the Rapid River Hatchery is about a third of what was earlier forecast. Fisheries managers calculate nearly all the fish bound for the Rapid River Hatchery have been counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, and they expect about 640 fish will be available for sport harvest on the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

So far, 55 Chinook had reached Rapid River Hatchery by June 5, and anglers had harvested nine hatchery adults through June 3.

Fish and Game Anadromous Fish Manager Lance Hebdon said the intent of reducing the bag limit is to slow harvest so the department can better manage the fishery and ensure there’s not over harvest of fish needed to replenish the hatchery. The goal is not to extend the fishing season, even though that could occur, but it’s difficult to predict.

With a smaller harvest share than in recent years and the rivers coming into good fishing shape, he said the harvest share could be quickly caught, but in the past, there’s also been a reduction in angler effort when the bag limit is reduced.

But anglers who want to catch a Chinook in the Lower Salmon or Little Salmon rivers should get there soon because there’s no telling how long the season might last.

“The fish are there and it’s time to get there and go fishing,” he said.