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June 21, 2022 – South Fork Salmon River Chinook Fishery Update

The South Fork Salmon fishery is officially open, but not a whole lot has changed since last week regarding run progress. The graph below shows estimated number of South Fork Salmon adult Chinook Salmon that have passed the respective dams so far this year.



Run Timing

The current estimate of South Fork bound adult Chinook over Bonneville Dam is 3,647, but so far only 962 of those have crossed Lower Granite Dam. The surge of high water in the Columbia River basin over the past few weeks has definitely slowed fish down on their way to Idaho. For example, adult Chinook Salmon typically cross Lower Granite Dam well within 3 weeks of crossing Bonneville Dam, but this year it hasn’t been uncommon to see fish cross Lower Granite Dam nearly a month after they were detected crossing Bonneville! We saw a slight uptick in the number of Idaho-bound summer Chinook crossing Snake River dams in the last few days, and hopefully that continues this week. Idaho summer Chinook are coming…but they’re not here yet.

Generally, it takes about 2 weeks for South Fork adults to reach the Krassel PIT array on the South Fork. There have not been any adult Chinook Salmon detected at the Krassel array yet this year. I’ve received several calls and emails from anglers asking how to look up PIT tag observations at the Krassel PIT array. I recorded a short tutorial to explain how to access that data and some things to look for as you interpret what it means. You can find that tutorial HERE.

Estimated Harvest Share

The current estimated harvest share based on the Bonneville estimate and average conversion rates through Lower Granite Dam is over 900 adults available for sport harvest on the South Fork Salmon this year. However, since travel time from Bonneville to Lower Granite has been slower than normal this year, we may see lower than average conversion rates, resulting in a reduction in harvest share. Harvest share will undoubtedly fluctuate over the coming weeks as the run continues to progress, but we’ll likely end up somewhere between 700 and 1,000 adults available for harvest in the sport fishery.

Fishery Outlook

Its really nice to see good flows in the South Fork Salmon this year. I think we still have about a week and a half or more before the fish start showing up in any significant numbers, but as soon as they do the flows and temperatures in the river should facilitate some excellent fishing.

When fish show up on the South Fork Salmon the fishing can get hot pretty quickly. Depending on where we land with final harvest share this year, it may not take very long to reach our harvest share and close the fishery. You'll want to be there when the fish get there. Keep an eye on Ptagis.org for those first few fish to cross the Krassel PIT array on the South Fork, and get out there as soon as you can!

 

Stay tuned for another update next week!