Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fish On! Another Fun Kids' Fishing Day

Under a cloudy gray sky, Dworshak National Fish Hatchery (Hatchery) held its 23rd annual Kid’s Fishing Day on May 18, 2013. The Hatchery partnered with Nez Perce Fisheries and held the event at Tunnel Pond just east of Orofino, ID. Hatchery volunteers and staff, along with local volunteers from the Clearwater Sheriff’s department, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Nez Perce National Historic Park, Dworshak State Park, and the local school district helped bring this year’s event together.

Fishing opened at 8:00 for kids 14 and under. The Hatchery, Nez Perce Tribe, and local vendors provided poles, bait, nets and expertize to assist youth in their day of fishing. Each child was allowed three fish and no kid went home empty handed!

The morning was a little drizzly but by 10:30 or so the threat of rain subsided and folks started to really show up. Cool weather and overcast skies made for great fishing conditions so it didn’t take long to reach the 3 fish limit. But there was much more for the children to do besides fish! Volunteers were on hand to help kids make artful fishing flies, create Japanese fish prints, and make pine cone bird feeders. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) had their Cast a Carp game out so kids could perfect their casting skills. Dworshak State Park (IDPR) taught kids how to make bird feeders from recycled objects and provided supplies to make pine cone bird feeders. The Nez Perce National Historical Park (NPS) brought out a great display of historical fishing gear. Clearwater County Sheriff deputies brought out their jet skis and taught kids about water safety. The Nez Perce Tribe put up a teepee and the Hatchery taught kids how to make a “shore lunch” by cleaning and cooking each kid’s catch. The Guide Shop provided all the bait for the event and Ronatta’s Cakery provided cookies to go along with the shore lunch.

The event had 94 registered kids, about the same as last year’s event. Staff helped net fish, bait hooks, provide casting lessons, ice caught fish, and even gave fish cleaning lessons. It was a wonderful day and everyone had a great time.

This event would not have been possible without the commitment from our Hatchery volunteers, the Nez Perce Fisheries, the IDFG, the Clearwater County Sheriff Department, the NPS, IDPR , the Guide Shop, Ronatta’s Cakery, and funding from the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan.

Text and Photo's by Angela Feldmann

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It’s Fun! It’s Free! It’s Kid’s Fishing Day!

We are gearing up for Dworshak’s 23nd annual Kids Fishing Day. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, May 18 from 8:00-1:00 at Tunnel Pond, near Orofino, ID. The Hatchery will provide all fishing gear, bait, and ice for your catch and will even teach you how to land, clean, and cook your fish. If you are 14 and younger all you need to do is grab an adult and come out to the Pond. 

Many agencies are joining forces to make this year’s Kid’s Fishing Day fun and educational. Kids can practice the art of Gyotaku, Japanese fish printing, can create large colorful flies, and can learn all about fishing, fish and what fish eat! The IDF&G “Let’s Go Fishing” trailer will be there and Bobber the Water Safety Dog may even make an appearance! 

As in years past, parking at Tunnel Pond is limited so there will be a free shuttle from the parking lot below Orofino High School, Riverside Ave, to the pond. 

This is a great chance for kids and their families to get outside, enjoy nature, and catch a few fish!

Hope to see you there!!!

text and photos by Angela Feldmann

Friday, May 3, 2013

Moving Outside: Spring Chinook Finally See the Light of Day

Chinook eggs and alevin
The 2012 brood of Dworshak Spring Chinook salmon have been nestled in the security and darkness of incubation trays since spawning, way back in August. In those trays eggs developed into alevin and alevin grew into fry. Fry are notoriously hungry critters, as most animal babies are. They have used up the nourishment contained in their yolk sac, have developed a working digestive system and are ready to put it to use! 

In hatchery speak we call these hungry little fry “swim-up fry” because as these fish are ready start feeding they are also ready to start swimming freely. In order to control their buoyancy (ability to move up and down in the water) they must first fill a little balloon like organ called the swim bladder. When the fish are put into raceways the first thing you see them do is “swim up” to the surface and take gulps of air to fill their swim bladder.

This year we are ponding our Chinook using an aerated transfer tank that we then empty into a raceway. 

The operation has gone very smoothly; the little fish look great and are already feeding well. They are off to very good start! By this time next year these Chinook will be making their way down river as smolts for life in the ocean.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 IDFG Clearwater Region Chinook Salmon Season Rules

This is a message from IDFG Cleawater Region Fishery Manager, Joe Dupont:
 (be sure to read the official 2013 IDFG Chinook season rules for specific area regulations)

As promised, I am letting you all know what the Commission decided today (4/30/13) for Idaho’s spring Chinook salmon rules (Clearwater, Rapid River and Hells Canyon releases).  Before I get into the rules, I want to go over what we are projecting for a harvest share for the different areas in the Clearwater Region to help you understand why the Commission decided on the rules they did.  The first thing we are dealing with is our projected harvest is still bouncing around from day to day as it seems one day a group of PIT-tagged fish destined for a certain area will pass over Bonneville Dam, and then the next day there may be none.   This in turn is resulting in some uncertainty on the timing of this year’s spring Chinook run.  If you look at the 3rd and 4th columns in the table below you will see the number of fish we project to come over Bonneville Dam varies considerably between whether the run has an average or late timing or somewhere in between.  For example, for the Clearwater River total, there is almost an 8,000 fish difference between our average timing and late timing run projections (to Bonneville Dam).  If you will look at the last three columns in the table below, it shows the projected harvest share for different areas based on different run timings.   You probably noticed that there is an additional column (the last one) in this table that I have not shown before.  This column shows our best guess on what the harvest share will be based on the timing of previous years that seem to be similar to what we are seeing this year (somewhere between an average and late timing).  If these numbers hold true, the harvest share for the entire Clearwater run would be around 200 adult fish, the Rapid River run would be around 2,500 adult fish, and the Hells Canyon run would be around 400 adult fish.  I’m sure what many of you are thinking is, “how can the harvest share for the entire Clearwater River be so low when the projected run size is similar to what we are projecting for Rapid River.   Here is the explanation.  The main reason is, the broodstock needs on the Clearwater River are much higher than for the Rapid River which means we need to collect a lot more fish in the Clearwater to fill our hatcheries.  For every fish it takes to fill our hatcheries is a fish we can’t harvest.   For those of you who critically look at this table, you may have noticed a difference in what I have reported for the broodstock needs below than what we showed in the past.  The main reason for this difference is in the South Fork Clearwater River, for every two fish that escape through all the fisheries, we are only able to trap one.  This in essence means we need to let twice as many fish escape through the fishery to meet our brood needs for this release site.  Yes, believe me, I recognize this is a problem we need to fix, and I can tell you we are working on it.   The other issue is we also release a group of fish at the Selway River that we cannot collect for brood stock and is why it is not included in the Clearwater Total.  We will keep track of how many of these fish we think we harvest separately.  In past years we harvested about 25% of these fish (essentially we could add around 25% of the Selway harvest share to the total Clearwater release).  

Setting rules and managing the Rapid River and Hells Canyon runs if fairly easy based on their projected harvest shares, but trying to manage a harvest share of around 200 fish spread across multiple communities in the Clearwater River basin becomes very difficult and is why you will notice the rule for the Clearwater Region are very restrictive and complex (see attachments above).  Recognize that when setting these rules, we tried to listen to the desires of all anglers while still trying to meet our other management needs (brood stock, harvest share, ability to accurately evaluate harvest).

·         For the Rapid River return, we will start with a  4-fish daily limit with no more than 2 being adults.  The season will be 7 days a week and will end upon further notice.  Please refer this link for season rules

·         For the Hells Canyon Return, we will start with a 4-fish daily limit with no more than 1 being an adult.  The season will be 7 days a week and will end upon further notice.  Please refer to this link for season rules.

·         Finally, for Clearwater River, we will start with a 4-fish daily limit with no more than 1 being an adult.  The season will be 4 days a week (Friday – Monday) and will end upon further notice.  Please refer to this link for season rules.  As you read the details above for the Clearwater River, you will notice that we have greatly reduced the areas where you will be allowed to fish.  The reason for this is the more area we open the faster you can harvest your fish and less accurate we get in estimating this harvest.  Remember, if this run holds true to our projection (let’s hope it increases), we will essentially be trying to distribute 200+ fish through all our communities and still provide both shore and boat fishing opportunities.  In this case, everybody has to sacrifice, which means we may not be able to fish areas we have in the past, and the days we typically like to fish on  (I know I can’t).

As always, if the run comes in different than we are projecting, we can adjust limits, days we are allowed to fish, and areas we are allowed to fish. 

So there you have it.  In some areas, I think people will be satisfied with these rules and in others, maybe not so much.  This has certainly been tough on us in Idaho Fish and Game when setting these seasons and rules, as there is still a lot of uncertainty.  We also know how important this fishery is to all of you, and it hurts to start the season with such restrictive rules in the Clearwater River drainage. 

For some better news, the Jack run is starting out good.  Let’s hope it continues as it could provide us some good fishing opportunities, and it is an indicator of good things to come.

Joe DuPont
Clearwater Region Fishery Manager
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
3316 16th Street
Lewiston, Idaho 83501
(208) 799-5010