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Steelhead Counts & Closures, Mayfly Decline, Hoot-Owl Lifting, Wyoming Fish Removal

Fly Fisherman News Briefs for September 22, 2022.

Steelhead Counts & Closures, Mayfly Decline, Hoot-Owl Lifting, Wyoming Fish Removal

Steelhead typically enter the Salmon from September through November, and then overwinter primarily downstream of North Fork, Idaho. (Ben Romans photo) 

Optimism for Steelhead Fishing in Idaho this Winter

Updated numbers of steelhead coming over Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River just east of Portland, Oregon and Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River near Lewiston, Idaho indicate fishable numbers of steelhead bound for Idaho’s Clearwater and Salmon river drainages.

This year’s reports show nearly double the number of fish from 2021 and totals well above the five-year averages, though these counts are still historically low. As of September 19, about 105,000 steelhead were counted at Bonneville (compared to 56,000 on that date in 2021) and over 14,000 were tallied at Lower Granite (compared to 8,800 in 2021).

Click here to follow these fish counts, which are updated weekly through December 16.

Steelhead Fishing Closed on Oregon’s John Day River

Speaking of steelhead counts, fishing for steelhead on Oregon’s John Day River is closed above Tumwater Falls on the mainstem from September 15 to December 31 due to low forecasts of wild steelhead. Similar to the nearby Deschutes River, minimum fish-count thresholds must be met by certain dates in order to keep the John Day open. This year only about 75 percent of the minimum was met by August 31 (about 26,000 of the 35,000 necessary fish coming over Bonneville Dam).


The counts are up from record lows last year, but not by enough to allow fishing.


Click here to read more.

Mayflies on the Decline

An article in the Washington Post reveals concerns over diminishing mayfly populations worldwide. Reasons for the decline are not clear, but many anglers and scientists believe that pesticides, sewage, fertilizers, urban sprawl, and warming waters are contributing at least locally. These elegant insects are the canaries in the coalmines of our trout streams, and this news might unfortunately signal what’s to come.

Eastern green drake mayfly sitting vertically on a tree, front legs in the air
These elegant insects are the canaries in the coalmines of our trout streams. (Paul Weamer photo)

Midwestern Hexagenias, for example, have been found to have declined by over 50 percent in some places, though localized hatches can still be extremely dense. And biodiversity of mayflies in England’s chalk streams has dropped nearly 50 percent since the late 1990s.

Click here for the full article.




Hoot-Owl Closures Lifting in Montana

Hoot-owl restrictions have largely come off of Montana’s rivers with the onset of fall and cooler and wetter weather. Restrictions have been lifted on the Jefferson River, Ruby River, Upper and Lower Madison River, Smith River, Sun River, Bitterroot River, Clark Fork, and the Gallatin and East Gallatin rivers. The only remaining closures are on portions of the Big Hole and the Upper Beaverhead rivers which are actually related to low flows rather than water temperatures.

Fly anglers loading raft and prepping for a float on Montana's Bitterroot River, on a fall day with bright foliage
Most of Montana's rivers are now primed for excellent fall fishing. (Joshua Bergan photo)

Additionally, the section of the Yellowstone River from Mayor's Landing to Sheep Mountain remains closed due to a structurally unsound bridge on Highway 89.

Click here for a map of Montana fishing closures.

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Saratoga Lake (Wyoming) Public Access Area Closes

Wyoming’s Saratoga Lake has closed to the public for a fish-removal project that started on September 19. The project used the piscicide rotenone to remove illegally introduced and non-native yellow perch, which could enter the nearby North Platte River drainage if not addressed. The North Platte and its reservoirs are famous for excellent fishing.

The lake will remain closed until biologists determine that the water is clear of rotenone.

Read more here.

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