Tuesday, April 23, 2013

IDFG Steelhead Report #10

IDFG Salmon Region Fisheries Technician Brent Beller describes the latest steelhead fishing report, "The steelhead fishing this past weekend on the upper Salmon River picked up slightly over the previous week. The majority of anglers were found in section 19, near the Sunbeam Dam area or in section 17, near the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River. Minimal angler effort was observed in section 18.  Anglers in section 17 had an average catch rate of 14 hours per steelhead, while in section 18, the catch rate was 4 hours per steelhead.  In section 19, anglers averaged 12 hours per steelhead and reported 47 steelhead caught."
As usual, you can click the graphic for a larger, more readable version.

Monday, April 15, 2013

IDFG Steelhead Report #9

IDFG Salmon Region Fisheries Technician Brent Beller reports, "The fishing on the upper Salmon River this weekend was similar to the previous week. The majority of anglers were found either near the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River or near the mouth of the Yankee Fork."

"Few anglers were observed in section 18. Anglers in section 17 averaged 19 hours per steelhead caught, while in section 18, they averaged 123 hours per steelhead. Section 19 had a catch rate of 24 hours per steelhead and was the most popular river stretch for anglers," Beller said.

You can click the graphic to see a larger, more readable version.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stanley Area Steelhead Report

Our contacts in the Stanley area indicate steelhead fishing success varies according to the weather and water temperatures.  So far, there's no reports of excessively cloudy or muddy water, although the water has dirtied up from time-to-time.

Steelhead returns to the Sawtooth Hatchery are running strong during April.  The IDFG website reports the Sawtooth Hatchery has received 2,739 steelhead as of April 11.  Approx 2,300 of those have been trapped so far this month, including 950 fish on Monday and 450 on Thursday.  Hatchery Staff noted quite a few fish in the 28-30 inch range.

This week has been rather cold in the Stanley area and a few inches of snow covered the vicinity Saturday morning.  Not too many fishermen have been out in the colder weather but 10 vehicles were noted at Buckhorn Bridge Friday afternoon.

In late March, the afternoon water temperatures generally reached the low 40 degree range.  Despite the cooler temps lately, the afternoon water temps have averaged over 46 degrees so far during April. At left is a graphic showing the daily minimum and maximum water temps for the first 11 days of April in the Stanley area.

Our contacts report occasional good fishing 10-15 miles downriver from Stanley, mostly with jigs.

The Pahsimeroi Hatchey has trapped 3,194 steelhead this season and 386 steelhead have been trapped at the East Fork weir.

Below is the latest IDFG steelhead trapping summary:
Click on any graphic for a larger, more readable version.
Here is the IDFG data page: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/hdms/steelhead/index.html

Below is the graph on how the Sawtooth twice-weekly trapping has been going this season.

Friday, April 12, 2013

East Fork Salmon River Bridges bids solicited

You can click on the graphic above to see a larger, more readable version.
It's official.  The legal notice for the East Fork Bridges Project hit the newspapers this week, appearing in "The Challis Messenger" April 11.  The "Notice of Letting" is dated April 8th.

This is going to be a very big project involving the construction of two bridges simultaneously.  One bridge will span The East Fork and the other will span The Salmon River just west of The East Fork.

The bridges will be constructed south of the existing Highway 75 so that traffic can flow largely unimpeded.  However, delays are likely during various phases of the construction project.

The Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) has been reconstructing various bridges on The Upper Salmon River for years.  The most recent projects in this vicinity between Challis and Stanley were the Slate Creek and Ice Corner bridges.

As far as river users go, this particular project could result in significant changes to fishing and recreational boating in this area.

During past bridge projects, boaters have not been allowed to pass underneath the bridge project area for obvious liability reasons.

There is an informal, undeveloped river access area on "river left" immediately downriver from the existing Highway 75 bridge.  We have made numerous inquiries of IDT, BLM, IDFG, "The Challis Messenger" and "The Post-Register" in Idaho Falls about how this project is going to affect the informal river access area.

We have come up empty-handed since our first inquiries last July.  We wish we had more to report about this situation.

Inflatables that can be hand carried might be able to launch from the BLM East Fork Recreation Area.  However at this time, we do not know if the BLM will keep the site open during the construction phase.

River users who put-in at the Squaw Creek Access Area will most likely have to find an alternate take-out upriver from the Hwy 75 bridge project.

The project is likely to affect drift boat users more than inflatable boat users.

One thing's for certain--when a plan set goes to bid as it has this week, the project is set in stone.  The opportunity to address the impact on river usage has now passed.  We will attempt to continue to look into this evolving situation.  Meanwhile, if you are a regular user of this are of The Salmon River--be prepared for substantial changes during at least the next two field seasons.

The bid solicitation stipulates the project must be completed "WITHIN 160 WORKING DAYS"  (caps emphasis by IDT).  Cost is estimated to be between $5-million and $10-million dollars.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CACC Steelhead Derby & Ball Report

Thirteenth Annual Steelhead Derby & Ball
Press Release by Melissa Perkins Fitzgerald
Executive Director, Challis Area Chamber of Commerce

Oh What a Night…
The Challis Area Chamber of Commerce held the Thirteenth Annual Steelheaders’ Ball on Saturday, April 6, at the new Challis Community Event Center, on Clinic Road.
The lights were lit (power plants light courtesy of the Thompson Creek Mining and Westfall Construction) the stage was set (Horsin’ Around Band) the tables were set with linens and delicious scents came from the kitchen (courtesy of Village Inn Restaurant)

Build it and they will come…
Curiosity got the better of most. Several in attendance came just to see the new event center. They came slowly at first, but eventually the great room filled. Approximately ninety dinners were served and later there were an estimated 150 people in attendance.

Dancing the night away…
Adults and children filled the dance floor with room to spare. The increased space allowed many to show off their high stepping and swing talents. Local band, Horsin’ Around filled the hall with a combination of rockin’ roll classic and contemporary country standards. The band features the talents of Travis Hardy, Wanda Swigert, Chris MacDonald, Scott Lee and Fred Jacobs Meyer.

The live auction lent excitement and competitive interaction amongst the crowd. Auctioneer J.R. Baker donated his talents and brought with him two guest Auctioneers, Patrick & William Seefried. The auction raised just shy of $1800. for the chamber.

Derby results:
Derby entries were down this year. Some blamed the weather; others claimed there were less fish. However, that did not stop the true die-hard fisherman.

Mike Rukavina placed First in the Big Fish contest. Mike’s fish measured 31”.
His award was $100. Mike also won the two out of five weeks of the Mystery Fish contests.
Rick Frost placed Second with a fish of 28 ¾”. He won $75.
Last but not least, Sarah Baker placed Third with a fish of also, 28 ¾”. She won $50.

Mystery Fish contests weeks three and four were won by Walter Parker and Dennis Dubois. Mystery Fish contest winners were awarded a $50. gift certificate to the Bent Rod Outdoors. Surprisingly, there were no entries in week five of the Mystery Fish contest. If you would have entered, chances are you would have won.

Derby entry fees raised $580. for the chamber. There were 29 participants. Notably absent from this year’s derby were Earl & Mary Skeen and Steve & Renee Petersen.

Raffles: OMG  
The event featured four raffles. The 50/50 cash raffle was won by Tim Williams. The Ruger P95 pistol (courtesy of Challis LawDog P.C., Curt R. Thomsen) raffle was won by Doyle Lamb. The Remington Model 700, 300 Magnum rifle (courtesy of Sportsman Warehouse) raffle was won by Sarah Baker. The biggest prize of the night, the 2013 Hyde Contender Series Drift Boat was won by Sarah Baker.

Winner takes almost all:
Not only did Sarah Baker place Third in the Big Fish Contest, but she won the rifle and boat! “This is a phenomenal coincidence,” said chamber executive director Melissa Perkins Fitzgerald, “I was as shocked as anyone. She won a Trifecta!” She assures the propriety and integrity of these raffles is valid.

The Party is over but chamber continues…
The Steelhead Events (Derby & Ball) are the largest annual fundraising events for the Challis Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber would like to thank the sponsors, local businesses and community for there support.

Monday, April 8, 2013

IDFG Steelhead Report #8

The Salmon Region IDFG Steelhead Report #8 was released this afternoon.

Fisheries Technician Brent Beller said, "This weekend on the upper Salmon River, the majority of anglers were found upstream of Clayton, in section 19, while very few anglers were observed fishing downstream of Elk Bend. Anglers in section 17 averaged 18 hours per steelhead caught, while in section 18, the average was 43 hours per steelhead."

Beller pointed out the weekend creel surveys showed "Anglers in section 19 also had a catch rate of 18 hours per steelhead with a total of 46 reported caught."

A total of 2,999 steelhead have been trapped at the Pahsimeroi Hatchery trap as of April 8th, and 1,378 steelhead have been trapped at the Sawtooth Hatchery trap as of April 4th.

Click on the graphic above for a larger, more readable version.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bent Rod Steelhead Report #3

As the 2013 Challis Area Chamber of Commerce Steelhead Derby heads for its 5 pm April 6th finish line, Dustin Webster of The Bent Rod Outdoors reports, "As of right now the odds are 'supper good' to win a New Hyde Contender, as there are still quite a few boat tickets to be sold."

 "The Big fish Derby is anyone's game right now," Dustin said, noting "The entries we have pale in comparison to the fish of the last few years."

 "That being said its looking like a good time to be had at the Ball," Dustin added, "There's lots of Rods, Reels, and Full Combos that are up for Bid and raffle and we have a few firearms to raffle off as well. We're looking at having a good time for a good purpose."

"As for the fishing report, there is good news and bad," Dustin said. "Last Week the fishing was spotty at best. Our water has come up about a foot in the last few days and the water has some color to it but is still completely fishable with about two feet visibility," Dustin explained.

 "The Pahsimeroi hatchery received about a thousand fish last week so we should have some new blood in the area," Dustin observed.

 "We are looking at a decent cold front pushing through the state that should stem any more run-off and let the river drop a little which should stall the fish and make for some decent fishing. Folks are still doing well with single egg paterns,Roe and drift fishing flies," Dustin concluded.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April 1st Salmon Snow & Streamflow Report

The monthly US NRCS "Basin Outlook Report" (BOR) was released late Thursday afternoon (April 4th).  Snow conditions and streamflow forecasts vary widely across the state.  Here's the meat of the BOR as it relates to The Salmon River:

Dryness since January is starting to outweigh the wet start to the water year from October through December. October, November and December started off the water year with abundant moisture, by New Years the Salmon basin water year to date precipitation was 128% of average. Now after three months of below normal precipitation water year precipitation is less than normal at 94% of average. Basin wide March precipitation was 58% of average.

This year’s January–March period ranks as second driest at Deadwood Summit and Banner Summit and third driest at Vienna Mine, Mill Creek and Morgan Creek sites since SNOTEL records begin in the early 1980s. It’s a wonder that snowpack percentages are still 84% of median as of April 1, but keep in mind the shift to the 1981-2010 medians is inflating the percentage. This year’s snow would be 73% of average based on the 1971-2000 averages. To help put this year’s snow in perspective with recent history a snow index is very useful. A snow index sums the snow water inches at a group of stations to compare years. The snow index for the Middle Fork Salmon, which combines snow water at Banner Summit, Deadwood and Morgan Creek SNOTELs indicates that this April’s snowpack is less than last year, but better than other recent low years like 2010, 2007, 2005 and 2004. Years with slightly better snow were 2009 and 2002. Since snowpack correlates with streamflow this is a good way to judge runoff. Streamflow forecasts range from
77% of average for the Salmon at White Bird to 83% of average for the MF Salmon. Remember you can expect the MF Salmon River’s snowmelt peak to occur when Banner Summit is half melted. Banner Summit only has 20 inches of snow water and could still accumulate a little more snow. Keep watching this site’s snow water to determine this year’s half-melt value. It will provide a clue as to when the snowmelt driven peak flow is past.

The Statewide Recreational Forecast is below the graphic.  The complete report is embedded at the end of this article.

With the onset of warm temperatures in early April, the rivers are now rising across the state. Winter’s
colder than normal temperatures kept the meager mid-elevation snowpack in place but it is now
melting to produce the early April flow increase. The Owyhee River had its snowmelt peak flow of
3,000 cfs for several days last month. It will rise again, but only with additional rains. The Bruneau
basin has a little more snow than last year, but don’t expect a much longer season unless it rains. Last
year the Bruneau River near Hot Springs was only above 800 cfs a handful of days. The MF Salmon
River is already at 3 feet, 2,100 cfs and will have a moderate season with moderate peaks, provided it
doesn’t rain. With the Salmon River at White Bird forecast at 77% of average, the main Salmon will still
have a good season without the potential for extended high flows. With the snow at 90% of median in
the Locsha and Selway basins, expect ideal river running opportunities as the streams are also
predicted at near average. The Payette snowpack and reservoirs will provide ideal flow levels through
the summer on the Payette. Additional snowmelt-streamflow relationship information is available on
the Idaho Peak Streamflow Resources internet page. Know your boating skill limits, and be sure to
watch the changing spring weather for more climatic variability extremes that may affect the melt
rates during the snowmelt season and produce sudden increases in flows.

Click here to download the document:

Many Thanks to the US NRCS, the Idaho Snow Survey Staff and especially Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist, for providing our readers with this information on such a timely basis!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Photo of The Week #3

Sarah Baker caught this beautiful hen steelhead between Watts Bridge and Cottonwood.

IDFG Steelhead Report #7

Weekend creel surveys once again depicted The Salmon River above The East Fork to be the most productive fishing. Seventy-four anglers checked caught a total of 48 fish, 17 more than the combined total of fish caught in all other sections surveyed over the weekend.  In last weekend's report, 66 anglers checked in Section 19 caught 43 fish.

Weekend data indicates Section 17 (Lemhi River to Pahsimeroi River) had the heaviest fishing pressure with 177 anglers checked.

Brent Beller
According to Brent Beller, IDFG Salmon Region Fisheries Technician, "This weekend on the upper Salmon River, the majority of anglers were found either around the confluence of the Pahsimeroi River or further upstream, near the mouth of the Yankee Fork."

Beller noted, "Compared to the weekend before, the fishing was erratic with the catch rates varying greatly between river sections.  No steelhead were reported caught in section 14, and in section 15, anglers averaged 55 hours per steelhead. Section 16 had the best catch rate of the weekend at 7 hours per steelhead, but not many interviews were obtained due low angler pressure within the section."

"Upriver in sections 17 and 18, anglers averaged 43  and  124 hours per steelhead caught, respectively," Beller wnet on, adding, "Section 19 received the most angler pressure for the weekend and is where anglers caught the most steelhead. A total of 48 steelhead were reported caught, with anglers averaging 13 hours per steelhead."
Click on the graphic above to see a larger, more readable version