Latest from The Spokesman-Review
FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has voted to rescind the 28-inch length restriction on the Clearwater River.
This rule change became effective at 10 a.m. today (March 20, 2014). As such, the steelhead rules for the entire Clearwater River basin (where open) are now:
- A daily limit of 1 steelhead
- A possession limit of 2 steelhead
- No length restriction are in effect in any of the open waters.
- Refer to the Steelhead rules for specific area closures and restriction to steelhead fishing (these have not changed).
According to Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston, the Commission last fall approved a restriction on the length of Steelhead (none > 28 inches) that could be harvested in the Clearwater River downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.
“The length restriction was implemented to protect larger 2-ocean fish that are needed for hatchery brood stock,” he said. “Run-size updates at that time indicated a very poor return of 2-ocean Steelhead to the Clearwater River. A reduction in the limit (daily limit of 1 fish) was also implemented in all waters in the Clearwater River basin that were open to Steelhead fishing.”“Steelhead spawning is now mostly complete at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery and managers there believe that Steelhead in excess of those needed to meet egg-take objectives are available for harvest. For this reason, the Commission decided to remove the length restriction on Steelhead that can be harvested in the Clearwater River downstream of Orofino Bridge and the North Fork Clearwater River. The one fish daily limit still applies.”
The commission also is adopting fishing seasons, which will be reported on Friday.
FISHING — All fishing on the Tucannon River, including fishing for hatchery steelhead and whitefish, will close March 1 through June 6, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.
Reason for action: A large component of Tucannon River wild steelhead enters the river in March. The recreational hatchery steelhead fishery emphasizes the removal of hatchery fish to prevent them from spawning. The incidental impact to wild steelhead from a recreational fishery is anticipated to increase to unacceptable levels in March. The fishery is being closed to conserve this weak stock of wild steelhead.
Other information: The Tucannon River will reopen the first Saturday in June when game fish seasons open as identified in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fishing-rule pamphlet.
FISHING — If you're one of those steelheaders who's been avoiding the Clearwater River because of this season's poor fish returns, here's a big THANK YOU from the anglers who've been enjoying your absence.
Read on for the Lewiston Tribune story that points out the lack of effort has resulted in some excellent fishing for those who show up to enjoy all the elbow room and unbothered steelhead.
FISHING — Although it's a misnomer, Idaho's “spring” steelhead fishing season opened Jan. 1, continuing the season that started in the fall with a few twists.
Most important, you need a new fishing license.
While we're on that topic, be aware of the differences among the states.
- Idaho's 2013 fishing license expired Dec. 31.
- Montana's 2013-14 license expires Feb. 28.
- Washington's 2013-14 license expires March 31.
Meantime, Idaho's “spring” steelhead season is open on the:
- Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
- Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
- Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.
- Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.
- North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
- South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
- Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.
The season runs through April 30 in most areas, except:
- On the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31.
- On the Little Salmon River, the season runs through May 15.
- On the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam to Oxbow Dam, the season runs through May 31.
- On the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.
The steelhead limits for the spring 2014 season on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon are three hatchery-marked fish per day and nine in possession. The limits in the Clearwater drainage are one fish per day and two in possession. In addition, in the North Fork Clearwater River and the Clearwater River downstream of the Orofino Bridge only steelhead 28 inches or less in total length may be kept.
The statewide limit for the spring season is 20 steelhead. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.
See more details in the 2013-15 Fishing Regulations pamphlet on the Idaho Fish and Game Website.
FISHING — The Columbia River steelhead fishing report for December in the Hanford Reach isn't anything to get excited about. Here's the summary just posted by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth in the Tri-Cities:
Cold weather has kept anglers away from the water in December. Only 82 angler trips taken in December so far. Through December 15, staff interviewed 18 anglers with 1 wild steelhead released.
FISHING — In a correction to the S-R's weekly Hunting-Fishing report, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries managers remind steelheaders that, according to a rule enacted Aug. 30, anglers MUST RETAIN all hatchery-marked steelhead they catch in the Tucannon River up to their daily limit of two.
Following are some specific emergency regulations that anglers need to be aware of when fishing the Tucannon for steelhead:
- All steelhead reduced to possession (landed) in the Tucannon River with a missing adipose fin (hatchery origin) MUST BE RETAINED. Catch and release of hatchery steelhead is not allowed
- The area from Marengo (at Turner Road) upstream is closed to steelhead fishing
- The daily limit is reduced to 2 hatchery steelhead per day.
- Barbless hooks required.
- Release all wild steelhead.
Reason for action: Steelhead returns to the Tucannon River are not meeting management goals for conservation or for maintaining fisheries and therefore, the fishery for hatchery steelhead must be constrained to provide more protection of naturally produced steelhead in the Tucannon River. The emergency regulations are intended to focus the fishery on removal of stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon River in late summer and fall to prevent them from spawning naturally, as well as provide a refuge area above Marengo to protect early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.
FISHING — Oh, yeah! Steelhead are returning to the Upper Columbia River through the Hanford Reach, too. Outnumbered by the record run of fall chinook, some anglers almost forgot… but not everyone.
Here's the latest report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The majority of the boats and bank anglers fishing in the Hanford Reach were targeting salmon this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 215 bank anglers fishing for steelhead and salmon and 40 boat anglers fishing for steelhead. An estimated 111 steelhead were caught and 39 fish harvested by steelhead anglers this past week. Salmon anglers caught an additional 24 steelhead bringing the total steelhead catch to 135 (harvest = 47).
On October 17, the steelhead regulations were modified in the lower section of the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers) to allow retention of all hatchery steelhead.
For the season, Oct 1-20, an estimated 334 steelhead have been caught in the lower Hanford Reach and 90 steelhead have been harvested.
FISHING — As predicted when the forecast for B-Run steelhead was downgraded last week, Idaho Fish and Game has reduced bag and possession limits on steelhead harvested in part of the Clearwater River drainage during the fall and spring seasons.
The change takes effect when the fall steelhead harvest season opens Tuesday (Oct.15) in the Clearwater River drainage.
The limits for the fall season and the spring 2014 season are one fish per day and two in possession. In addition, in the North Fork Clearwater River and the mainstem Clearwater River downstream of the Orofino bridge only steelhead 28 inches or less in total length may be kept.
Read on for more details.
FISHING — Steelhead fishing reports and creel census tallies from the Snake, Tucannon and Grande Ronde rivers have improved. It's time to go!
The Salmon River in particular has been out of sorts, as Amy Sinclair of Exodus River Adventures in Riggins reported last night:
October 7th and the Salmon River has just spent the last 25+ days looking like the mighty Colorado River (or like the Salmon River in May)…yes, this river never ceases to amaze me! On October 1st the Salmon River set a record high for the day of the year at 15,200 CFS; the old record was 7840 CFS set in 1983. The optimistic side to this is that these record setting flows are washing away a lot of the silt that settled during September’s wet weather and leaving us a clean river system as we enter the prime of the season.
As of this morning we have a river flow of 7450 CFS and a river temperature of 47-49 degrees, a perfect temperature to get steelhead into the Riggins area. With the river continuing to improve each day, good fishing and more importantly great fish stories, are just right around the corner. At Exodus we are officially kicking off the season tomorrow with our first jet boat trip.
FISHING — Steelhead fishing success dramatically improved last week and through the weekend in the Snake River near Little Goose and Ice Harbor dams, according to creek reports just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and wildlife.
The hottest fishing was between from Lower Monumental Dam to Little Goose Dam, where anglers averaged 7 hours per fish caught.
Anglers average 12 hours per fish caught from Ice Harbor Dam to Lower Monumental and 15 hours per fishg from Little Goose to Lower Granite Dam.
Tucannon River anglers averaged 11 hours per steelhead caught.
Creel numbers for the Snake upstream of Lower Granite in Washington indicate slow fishing for steelhead, but Idaho Fish and Game hasn't posted numbers for the mouth of the Clearwater. Heller bar fishing was fairly good late last week, said Joe DuPont, IFG regional fisheries manager.
No creel reports are out yet for the Grande Ronde, but I was there personally and steelheading was still very, very slow through Sunday.
FISHING — Despite much anticipation because of a surge of water last week coupled with good numbers of fish moving past Lower Granite Dam, angler reports from the Grande Ronde River over the weekend left much to be desired.
Catch rates were miserably low in the river between Troy and Schumaker, according to anglers I surveyed as well as the fishing info clearinghouse at Boggan's Oasis.
But the luck is going to change soon.
Maybe this morning.
FISHING — Columbia-Snake fisheries managers have just issued a forecast update the downgrades the prediction — again — for B-run steelhead — the large, coveted steelhead stocks that head up the Snake River each year bound primarily for the Clearwater and Salmon Rivers.
Here's the lastest in a blog post from Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:
The group of fisheries biologists from state, tribal and federal agencies met today and calculated only 10,700 B-run steelhead, including 2,500 wild fish, will return to the Columbia River, as measured at Bonneville Dam.
On average, about 71 percent of the B-run fish counted at Bonneville Dam, make it all the way to Lower Granite Dam. Based on that conversion rate, the predicted return above Granite is about 7,600, including 1,775 wild fish.
The preseason forecast called for a return of 31,600 B-run steelhead to Bonneville Dam and 22,400 to Lower Granite.
Last week, Idaho Fish and Game officials said they would consider lowering bag limits on hatchery steelhead when the Clearwater River opens to catch-and-keep fishing Oct. 15.
FISHING — It's not necessarily a year for celebration, but it isn't one of despair, either.
The steelhead counts over Lower Granite Dam continue to mount and put fish in the sights of anglers in the Snake, Clearwater and Grande Ronde river areas of Washington and Idaho.
FISHING — Meanwhile in the Snake River — anglers are praying for cooler weather and rain to break the apparent thermal block that's keeping steelhead from moving up through the Snake River past Lower Granite Dam.
FISHING — The graphs indicate the promise ahead.
FISHING — Columbia River fish managers today reduced their early forecast for the steelhead run moving up the Columbia, upper Columbia and Snake Rivers.
Says Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met this morning, August 19, 2013, to review the summer steelhead run size. TAC agreed to update the “A” or small steelhead component of the run to 212,000 fish. This is a decrease from the preseason forecast of 291,000 fish. TAC reviewed but did not update other components of the steelhead run, or the fall Chinook run. TAC will meet again on August 26, 2013.
FISHING — The chart above gives an indication that the early stage of the steelhead run continues to trickle over Lower Granite Dam at a lower than average rate, but still with promise of good fishing.
Steelhead are moving over Bonneville Dam on the Columbia at a rate of about 4,000 fish a day and over Lower Granite upstream on the Snake at about 100 a day.
The total since July 1 at Bonneville Dam is 46,560 compared with 63,719 last year at this time. The five year average for this date is 96,469.
The total since July 1 at Lower Granite Dam is 845 compared with 1,095 last year at this time. The five year average for this date 3,709.
FISHING — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish managers will present information and take public input on proposed Tucannon River steelhead management changes at a May 29 meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. at Dayton Elementary School (Park Street and 2nd Street) in Dayton.
New restrictions will apply to the steelhead fishery this fall and winter to comply with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) requirements to protect wild steelhead that are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, said WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel.
“We’ve already made several changes in Tucannon steelhead hatchery production and management to protect this small wild steelhead population,” Mendel said, “but we can’t maintain the current fishery structure. We don’t want to close this fishery altogether so we’re trying to craft fishing rule options that help remove hatchery steelhead while still protecting wild steelhead.”
Biologisgts will present summaries of the Tucannon River steelhead harvest, natural population estimates, and management issues involved, and take comments on several options for a restricted fishery. All options include a hatchery steelhead retention requirement to reduce hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.
Options being considered to focus on removal of hatchery steelhead while minimizing catch-and-release and incidental mortality of wild steelhead, include:
- Option 1- Allow steelhead fishing Aug.1 – Dec. 31 when 40-50 percent of the hatchery fish and only 20 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing Jan. 1 – June 7 (when trout fishing opens).
- Option 2- Allow steelhead fishing Aug. 1 or Sept.1 through Feb. 28 when 55-62 percent of the hatchery fish have entered the Tucannon River and when only 36 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing March 1 – June 7 (when trout fishing opens).
Information about these and other options will be posted online sometime after Friday.
Email input by June 7 to firstname.lastname@example.org with a “Tucannon River” subject line.
FISHING — Dang, the catching was so good, the limit of disturbance to wild fish stocks has been reached, forcing the state to announce this afternoon that fishing for steelhead and whitefish in the Methow and Chewuch rivers will close on Sunday evening.
Steelheading will continue in portions of the upper Columbia, Okanogan, Wenatchee and Similkameen rivers.
Read on for all the details just released from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
FISHING — The Methow River in northcentral Washington will open to fishing for steelhead and whitefish on Friday (March 1), the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced moments ago.
The agency also noted that two sections of the Okanogan River will CLOSE for steelhead fishing on March 17.
Click continue reading for all the dates, hours, rules and details about this fishery and other steelhead fisheries in the Upper Columbia region.
Note that a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead endorsement is required in addition to a fishing license and steelhead card.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has a full agenda of wide ranging topics to cover at its meeting Friday in Moses Lake.
Among the 15 agenda items, the panel will take public comments on proposed changes to hunting rules, consider adopting sportfishing rules and vote on buying a 1600-acre addition to the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area in Asotin County.
The meeting will convene at 8 a.m. at the Moses Lake Civic Center, 401 S. Balsam St.
The commission will accept public comments on 17 proposed hunting rule changes, which would include allowing the use of illuminated arrow nocks for archery equipment and restoring antlerless elk opportunities for archery hunters in Yakima County Units 352 (Nile) and 356 (Bumping).
The commission won't vote on the proposed changes to hunting rules until its April 12-13 meeting in Olympia.
However, the commission will consider adopting nearly 70 sportfishing rules, including proposals that would allow the use of two fishing poles on 50 additional lakes throughout the state and liberalize limits for walleye, bass and catfish in the Columbia River system.
The standout among three proposed land transactions is the plan to buy 1,614 acres of the 4-0 Ranch in Asotin County as phase two of a multi-year project to secure a total of nearly 12,000 acres of riparian habitat for steelhead and bull trout and terrestrial habitat for deer, bighorn sheep and elk.
FISHING — Washington fisheries managers are still working through the red tape surrounding the endangered stocks, but they're fairly confident they'll be able to open a fishing season for hatchery-marked steelhead in the Methow River starting in the first week of March.
The official word should be out by the end of this week or Monday, said Jeff Korth, Fish and Wildlife Department regional fisheries manager in Ephrata.
The likely bet would be a season opening March 1 and running about two or three weeks, he said.
FISHING — Incredible fishing sequences and photography was so common in Tuesday night's Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Bing Crosby Theater — we came to expect nothing less. Here are my top picks in several categories:
Best action: Blackwater Devil's Gold, fishing in Bolivia for golden dorado, one of the wildest of freshwater fish (see short trailer above, or 7-minute clip here).
Best story: Hit 'em again Doc, featuring Dr. Robert Franklin, 85, an angler with Parkinson's, and his guide.
Best fishing sequence: Fall Run, a Pacific Northwest steelheading film with an “over the top” action footage of landing a fish in a canyon where the sun don't shine.
Best line: The intriguing thing about steelheading is that … you have to be cool with not catching them.
FISHING — An update on proposed changes to sportfishing rules will be presented by state fish managers to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Feb. 8-9 meeting in Olympia. See the preliminary meeting agenda here.
Fishing rule proposals affecting Eastern Washington angling include:
- Liberalizing limits for bass, walleye and channel catfish in the main stem and tributaries of the Snake and Columbia rivers, including Lake Roosevelt.
- Changing regulations on motorized boats on the Yakima and lower Grande Ronde.
- Prohibiting use of internal combustion motors at Yocum Lake in Pend Oreille County.
- Converting North Silver Lake in Spokane County to a year-round fishery for warmwater species.
- Prohibiting trout fishing in Methow River stretches to protect steelhead.
Public comments on the proposals are being accepted on the agency’s website through Tuesday (Jan. 29).
The commisison is set to vote on the proposals at a March 1-2 meeting.
FISHING — Steelhead fisheries on the upper Columbia River will close one hour after sunset on Saturday (Dec. 1) from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, and Methow rivers.
Several whitefish fisheries scheduled to open that day will also close at sunset Dec. 1, including those on the Wenatchee and Entiat rivers, as well as on the Methow River downstream of the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.
Jeff Korth, Regional Fish Manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the closures are necessary to keep impacts on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The closures will not, however, affect steelhead or whitefish seasons on the mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam, or from the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries, plus steelhead and whitefish seasons on the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, will remain open until further notice under previously published rules.
Read on for more details.
STEELHEAD FISHING — The S-R's Fishing-Hunting Report this week notes that steelhead fishing has been good on the Grande Ronde River this week.
But angler Jeff Holmes puts an exclamation point on that report with these photos and this assessment of his recent driftboat outing, which includes the thrills of seeing bighorn rams along the shores.
A ferocious fight resulted in the eventual netting of this Grande Ronde goliath (I) caught above Boggan's Oasis while backtrolling a metallic blue size 35 Hot Shot trailing a 1/0 Gamakatsu Siwash on double split rings.
With this being such a special fish for the Grande Ronde, stretching a hair over 34 inches and weighing 14 pounds, I thought it only appropriate to have a normal-sized human photographed with this fish, per the previous advice of WDFW's Chris Donley.
Thanks, Teddy Schmitt, for holding this fish for me, and for outfishing me by putting three big hens in the net, including a 28 1/2-incher just moments before this one bit.
In case you don't get his humor, Holmes is a large man. He didn't want to make his huge fish look dinky in comparison by holding it for the photo.
Holmes said Chris Donley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife inland lakes manager and steelheading expert, said he's seen only one hatchery steelhead larger than this fish come out of the Ronde.
See my column on a new steelhead fishing book that will giving you insight on how to catch more steelhead in the region's rivers.
FISHING – The fall steelhead harvest season opens in the Clearwater River drainage on Monday (Oct 15) with a few twists in the fishing rules from previous seasons.
The seasons opens on the main stem of the Clearwater River above the Memorial Bridge, the South Fork Clearwater River, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam and the Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek.
The steelhead harvest season on lower Clearwater and Snake rivers already is open.
The limits on the Clearwater are two a day and six in possession while the limits on the Snake and Salmon rivers are three a day and nine in possession.
Only steelhead with a hatchery-clipped adipose fin may be kept.
New rules that took effect last year allow anglers to transport anadromous salmon and steelhead without the head and tail attached. However:
- The fish must be recorded on the angler’s salmon or steelhead permit.
- The processed fish must have the skin attached, including the portion with a healed, clipped adipose fin scar.
- Fish must be packaged in a way that the number of harvested fish can be determined.
- The fish must be processed ashore when the angler is done fishing for the day.
- No processed salmon or steelhead may be transported by boat.
- No jack salmon may be processed in the field.
- Processed salmon or steelhead count toward an angler’s possession limit while in the field or in transit.
See Idaho Fish and Game’s “How to fish for steelhead” videos.
FISHING — Jeff Holmes of the Tri-Cities photographed this nice catch — a couple of nice catches, actually — while moonlight fishing for steelhead Saturday on a Snake River middle impoundment with his wife, Erika.
One of many fish the Holmes's caught and released this weekend, this bright B-run hen wen 29.5 inches — and into the cooler.
STEELHEAD FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has issued an emergency closure of fishing for steelhead and whitefish in the Uppler columbia river tributaries effective a half hour after sunset Sunday.
Actions: Close the Methow, Wenatchee, and Icicle Rivers on March 25 to fishing for steelhead and whitefish.
Read on for the details of the emergency just posted.
FISHING – Starting Friday (March 16), selective fisheries for hatchery-reared steelhead on the Wenatchee, Icicle, and Methow rivers will temporarily reopen, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced this afternoon.
Anglers will be allowed to catch whitefish in the Wenatchee and Methow rivers so long as those rivers are open to steelhead fishing.
Steelhead fisheries in all three rivers are tentatively scheduled to run through March 31, but could end sooner if fishing impacts on wild steelhead reach annual federal limits, said Jeff Korth, regional WDFW fish manager.
“These limited openings are designed to support wild-steelhead recovery by reducing the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds,” Korth said. “Anglers can play an important role in that effort by removing hatchery fish not needed to meet spawning goals.”
Because the fisheries could close on short notice, Korth recommends that anglers check the department’s Fishing Hotline at (360-902-2500) or Fishing Rule website for updates.
The Similkameen and Okanogan rivers will remain open for steelhead fishing, although sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket creeks will close to all fishing Friday to protect wild steelhead staging for spawning.
Read on for more details.