Catch and release fishing for steelhead will be the rule on the Salmon River this fall, according to Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Apparently we are still seeing the effects of the hot spell the end of June of 2015. River volume was low for that time of year, and temperatures were unseasonably hot. The river warmed. Salmon migrating upstream apparently were affected, and steelhead and salmon smolts were moving downstream at that time. During the rest of the summer, river temperature in the Middle Fork was actually cooler than usual–but apparently the damage had been done. And hopefully we will soon be past this issue, in another season or so. In the meantime, we will be fishing this fall, beginning in mid-October, doing the best we can. Catch and release fishing for steelhead does have one bright spot–there probably won’t be as many fishermen out on the river.
Last winter was a severe ice season, and June was a long high-water period. Because of this, the gravel bars in the Salmon area have changed a great deal since last fall. If you knew the river well last fall, expect to start over. We’ll all be exploring the river for new runs this fall. There is the opportunity to find a new magic run that nobody else knows about yet–and mourn the great holes that are gone.
Recent rains have raised the level of the Salmon River noticeably, after a long, dry, smoky summer. The river remains clear, about 50 degrees. We have gotten the first snow at higher elevations in the last few days. It is too early to expect steelhead in the Salmon area yet, but it’s time to find rods, oil reels, check boat trailers, tell lies in the tackle shops, and wait to hear of the First Fish.