Outdoors

Steelheading remains good on Idaho rivers

Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures in Riggins hoists a Salmon River steelhead aboard her jet boat. (Exodus Wilderness Adventures)
Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures in Riggins hoists a Salmon River steelhead aboard her jet boat. (Exodus Wilderness Adventures)

FISHING — Steelhead have been working their way into tributaries as they near their spawning areas after a long migration that started last year. Many anglers love this time of year, when the fish are more accessible in the smaller streams.

Recent angler surveys show catch rates to be 11 hours per fish caught on the Salmon River upstream of the East Fork, 17 hours per fish caught on the Little Salmon River, and 8 hours per fish caught on the South Fork Clearwater River, the Idaho Fish and Game Department says.

Steelhead fishing is considered very good anytime catch rates are lower than 20 hours per fish caught.    

The spring harvest season closes March 31 on the Salmon River from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek – three-quarters of a mile upstream from the Middle Fork Salmon River.

But anglers can continue fishing through April 30 in most other steelhead waters, except the Little Salmon River, which stays open until May 15.

Other open waters include:

Snake Riverfrom the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.

Clearwater RiverMainstem and Middle Fork from its mouth upstream to Clear Creek.

North Fork Clearwater Riverfrom its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam.

South Fork Clearwater Riverfrom its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.

Salmon Riverfrom its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir near Stanley.  Except the reach from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, which closes March 31.

Spring steelhead limits are three fish per day and nine in possession with no more than 20 fish for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch and release.

Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar. All other steelhead must be released immediately.

Consult Idaho's 2013-2015 fishing rules book for special restrictions and limits.

Idaho has required a valid 2013 fishing license and steelhead permit since Jan. 1 in order to fish for steelhead.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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