Idaho’s Fall Salmon And Steelhead Forecast


With summer winding down, it’s time to start looking ahead to the fall fisheries for salmon and steelhead. This is an exciting time of year as we watch fish counts at Bonneville Dam and anticipate the fisheries that will be ramping up in Idaho over the next few months. Below is a description of upcoming fisheries and what we know at this point about run sizes.

Catch-and-release fisheries for steelhead are already underway in many areas of the state including parts of the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon river basins and harvest seasons will begin on many rivers in September. Check out this link for details on current and upcoming fisheries.

The steelhead forecast for this year was not good, but we are seeing counts at Bonneville Dam that suggest the run might not be as bad as forecasted. It is still early in the run and the next few weeks are typically when the bulk of Idaho’s steelhead run crosses Bonneville Dam so stay tuned for future updates.

Fall Chinook Salmon
Fall chinook seasons open in many areas in the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon river basins opened Aug. 18. The daily bag limit is three adult chinook salmon and there is no limit on jack chinook salmon which are less than 24 inches in length.

The forecast for fall chinook is not as high as last year’s return but this year’s run is expected to be high enough to provide good fishing opportunities. Fall chinook salmon counts are just beginning to increase at Bonneville Dam, and we expect the peak of the run there to occur in the next two weeks. On average it takes about 14 days for fish to get from Bonneville Dam to Lower Granite Dam, so it will be a few weeks before we have good numbers of fall chinook in Idaho fisheries. In the meantime, enjoy less crowded fishing and the potential for some really big fish as they are usually the first to make the journey to Idaho.

Coho Salmon
Idaho’s coho salmon fishery opens Sept. 1, and the daily bag limit is two adult coho salmon which are greater than or equal to 20 inches in length. Fisheries occur in portions of the Clearwater and Snake river basins. Check out this link for more information on Idaho’s coho salmon fisheries.

Similar to fall chinook, the forecast for coho salmon is not as high as last year’s return but is still forecasted to be the third highest return since coho were reintroduced into Idaho by the Nez Perce Tribe. Returns have steadily been increasing, and the 2023 fishery will mark the fifth consecutive year for coho fisheries in Idaho. Anglers are beginning to figure out how to catch these fish and are enjoying yet another species to target in the fall. Expect good numbers of coho to start entering Idaho around the first week of October.

With three species of salmon and steelhead on their way to Idaho and fisheries on the horizon, anglers have a lot to be excited about. There is the possibility of catching a steelhead, fall chinook salmon and coho salmon in the same waters, potentially in the same day. Get out there and see if you can catch the fall-season trifecta this year!

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