chinook salmon 4.14

This year’s Chinook salmon forecast is calling for the highest return to Idaho in the last seven years.

Idaho fish managers are predicting this year’s Chinook return could be the best since 2015.

The preseason forecast anticipates 39,631 adult Chinook will return to Idaho. If that number is reached, it will be highest since 2015, but below the 10-year average of 44,259 Chinook, Roger Phillips with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said.

Generally, when Chinook returns are trending upward, the return exceeds the forecast, according to John Cassinelli with Fish and Game. He said last year’s forecast was 18,000 fish and about 30,000 returned.

The spring Chinook salmon season opens April 23 on the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, in addition to other rivers throughout Idaho. Fishing will be allowed seven days a week this spring. The Chinook season will end no later than Aug. 7, but likely sooner because the season closes when harvest limits are reached.

Bag limits on the Salmon River this year a four Chinook a day, with only two fish being adults longer than 24 inches. The possession limit is 12, with no more than six adults in an angler’s possession.

Anglers should expect plenty of juvenile male “Jacks,” Chinook that spent only one year in the ocean and are usually less than 24 inches long. They provide anglers opportunities to catch Chinook without affecting the number of Chinook used to replenish Idaho’s fish hatcheries, Cassinelli said.

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