ice jam in Salmon River beginning to break up

The ice jam in the Salmon River near Salmon is beginning to break up. The last barrier in this section of the Salmon River is the Deadwater ice jam just below North Fork–the first to form in the fall, the last to break out in the spring. Today the upper end of the ice jam is a mile or so upstream of North Fork, so it will be a few days before Deadwater opens up.

This winter was relatively severe, creating an ice jam in the Salmon River that extend farther upstream than most years. Usually the section of the Salmon River near Salmon stays open, and fishable through the winter on days that slush ice is not flowing. This winter the whole section iced over, and ice built up several feet thick, covering the boat ramps. After the main river channel opens up, the ramps are still blocked with ice. Upstream of North Fork, the ramps are controlled by BLM and Fish and Game, and they clear ice from the ramps as the Deadwater ice jam recedes. Ramps upstream from Salmon have been opened, and I expect ramps between North Fork and Salmon will be opened the first of the week. The Forest Service controls ramps downstream of North Fork, and they do not open ramps.

As soon as ramps are open, there will be steelhead fishermen on the river. There have been a few fishermen fishing off the bank. It has been very difficult to get boats in and out of the river, though my son John has done so several times this week–and turned some steelhead by doing so. He has been using spey rods for this fishing.

The river is clear, temperature in the mid 30s. There is enough low-elevation snow in the valley that we expect to have some times this spring when the river is too muddy to fish, but it is fishable now. As long as night air temperatures drop below freezing, the river is likely to remain fishable.

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