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Chinook Salmon fishing closes on South Fork of Snake River

SALMON, Idaho (KIFI) - The South Fork Salmon River Chinook Salmon fishery is officially closed for the 2021 season. 

Here is a recap of how this season went:

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reports the fish showed up quite a bit earlier than normal this year.

The department opened the fishery on June 26 because anglers asked them not to open too early.

On a typical year this opening date likely would have been about perfect and would have worked well for everyone; however, this year was not a typical year in terms of river flows and fish migration timing, so fishing was pretty tough from the start.

Flows dropped fast in the South Fork this year and the fish moved up river faster than Fish and Game anticipated.

The South Fork Salmon River fish trap caught nearly all of the fish it needed for broodstock goals before the start of the second fishing interval.

That being said, officials said it still ended up being a pretty successful fishery.

Hatchery staff worked tirelessly to take all hatchery fish that were not needed for broodstock back down into the fishery and release them for anglers to catch. This strategy worked well, and a lot of these fish were harvested by anglers and taken home in coolers.

Altogether, non-tribal anglers caught nearly 1,300 Chinook Salmon on the South Fork this year (see table below). A total of 498 hatchery adults and 326 hatchery jacks were harvested, and a combined total of 471 salmon were caught and released.

Although effort declined pretty dramatically throughout the fishery, catch rates actually improved over time. By last weekend (the final interval for the 2021 fishery) the few anglers that were out there averaged only two hours per salmon caught, and three hours per salmon kept – those are pretty hot catch rates for Chinook Salmon no matter where you are.

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