December 27, 2021 | By Reel Time Fishing|
Steelhead – We still have a couple months left for Clearwater, Snake, and Grande Ronde steelhead. We are currently taking a short break as air temps are forecasted to reach single digits. Once we warm back up we will be back at it. We have been finding fish scattered throughout the Clearwater River system and continue to catch nice big fish. As a reminder the Clearwater limit will stay at 1 fish after Jan 1, the Snake will bump up to 2 fish on Idaho tags, and the Grande Ronde will remain at 1 fish. January has been some of our best catching the past few seasons.
Encouraging News for the Upcoming Seasons – Every year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) analyzes various ocean conditions to develop “stoplight” tables that can be used to forecast adult salmon returns. They compare all the years of sampling data to arrive at rank scores for each ocean ecosystem indicator. Then they color-code each indicator based on its score to reflect ocean conditions for salmon growth and survival (green = good; yellow = fair; red = poor). The past 7 years (2014-2020) have been some of the worst ranking ocean conditions we have seen, however 2021 has ranked as one of the best years since 1998. As a matter of fact 2021 is the 2nd best ranking in 23 years. (On the attached chart, the lower the ranking the better the conditions. Ranking of 0 would be a perfect ocean)
Here are some facts from prior years:1999 ranked a 7.0 – in 2001 the Snake River basin returned its largest Spring Chinook run ever recorded.2008 ranked a 3.2 (the best ever in 23 years) – in 2009 we saw one of the largest A-run steelhead returns over Lower Granite Dam (over 300,000 fish). To put this in perspective total Steelhead return in 2021 for both A & B runs was only 44,000 fish.2011, 2012, 2013 we saw rankings of 8.1, 6.6, 9.3 respectively and from 2013 – 2015 we saw record returns of fall Chinook. (Close to 1 million each season over Bonneville Dam)We hope that this will be a trend that will continue into the future and we can begin to look forward to stronger returns of Salmon & Steelhead.