State's steelhead run better than last year

| September 1, 2020 1:00 AM

Projections for the fall steelhead run in the Idaho rivers including the Snake and Clearwater rivers is better than the last couple of years, according to Idaho Fish and Game.

Most of the fish that are returning over Lower Granite Dam are fish that have spent two years or more in the ocean, fishery biologist Joe Dupont said.

“What is very different this year from these past three years is 75% of the returning steelhead spent two or three years in the ocean,” DuPont said.

In Idaho, steelhead harvest season usually opens Sept. 1 in the Snake and Salmon rivers with a daily harvest of three fish, although restrictive measures over the past few years have shortened seasons and lowered limits.

Restrictions are meant to ensure that enough fish return to hatcheries. In addition Fish and Game monitors the number of wild steelhead in the system.

“This year we are forecasting that around 17,000 wild steelhead will pass over Lower Granite Dam,” DuPont said. “Although we would like to see more, this forecast is better than we have seen the previous four years which is a good sign. With this wild steelhead forecast, impacts from our sport fisheries will not be an issue.”

Anglers waiting to see what the Clearwater River run holds for 202, will have to wait, DuPont said.

“These fish are just starting to pass over Bonneville Dam, and it won’t be until mid-September until we have a good feel for what this return will be like,” he said.