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Warm water stalls steelhead run into Snake

FISHING — As the graphs suggest, steelhead are moving over Bonneville Dam and heading up the Columbia, but a thermal barrier of warm water in the Snake River is keeping the fish from heading into Idaho.

The chart for Lower Granite Dam shows low numbers of fish heading over the last dam before they reach Lewiston and the mouth of the Clearwater. As of this week, the number of fish over Lower Granite is about a third the number of summer run steelhead recorded this time last year.

But they will come, sooner or later.

Steelhead are on their way to the Snake

STEELHEAD FISHING — Anglers have been catching a few steelhead in the Snake and Clearwater Riers, but as the charts reveal, the fish that have been moving over Bonneville Dam — first they reach on the Columbia - are just beginning to show up in bigger numbers at Lower Granite Dam — last dam on the Snake before the fish reach Idaho waters.


2012 Steelhead Count
From July 1 to November 30
Dam Date of Count Daily Count 2012
Total To Date
Total To Date
Average of Last 5 Years
Bonneville July 22 3,713 41,441 40,207 62,712
Lower Granite July 22 59 677 1,253 2,550
  • Counts include wild and hatchery origin fish. Most steelhead bound for Idaho cross Bonneville Dam between July 1 and October 31.
  • Information on numbers of steelhead crossing the Columbia and Snake River dams is taken from data posted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and is updated weekly during the counting season.

Steelhead moving stronger at Bonneville Dam, trickling up Lower Granite

FISHING — The light at the end of the tunnel looking downstream is the gleam of steelhead running in decent numbers over Bonneville Dam.

The curve is going up sharply as about 500 fish a day are swimming from the ocean and over the first dam on the Columbia River.

Next stop for many of those fish is the Snake River, where a few fish already are trickling over Lower Granite Dam — the last dam before they enter the Lewiston area, including the mouth of the Clearwater and the Grande Ronde River.  The black line on the Lower Granite fish count should start going up any day.

With tributary water temperatures staying cool longer than normal again this year, anglers may want to rig up with slightly stronger line when they're fishing for summer smallmouth in the Ronde, if you know what I mean.

Steelhead starting to move at Bonneville Dam

FISHING — a slight uptick in steelhead moving upstream over Bonneville Dam indicates good things to come into the Snake River next month.

Oregon gets permission to control cormorants to protect fish

FISHERIES — As voracious as a wolf and more mobile than a northern pike,the cormorant is finally getting more attention as a peak predator on certain fisheries.

Oregon officials were successful in getting permission to kill sea lions that feed on protected salmon trying to swim upriver to spawn. Now they want federal approval to shoot a type of seabird that eats millions of baby salmon trying to reach the ocean.

The Oregonian has the story.

Idaho steelheading closes; anglers await chinook

FISHING — Idaho's spring steelhead fishing season closes today in most waters.

The Little Salmon, from its mouth upstream to the U.S. 95 Bridge at Smokey Boulder Road, remains open until May 15.

Meanwhile, the spring chinook fishing season opened April 22, but only about two dozen adults have been counted so far over Lower Granite Dam. 

Steelhead running average over dams; many more to come

FISHING — Steelhead aren't making that big early spirt up the Snake and into Idaho this year.

The run numbers over Both Bonneville — as well as the few hundred a day that were marching over Lower Granite last week — are hovering around the five-year average.

Much more fun to come.

Upper Columbia steelheading closes Sunday

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.

Spey rodding classes offered at Silver Bow

FLY FISHING – Registration is underway for the following fly fishing clinics being offered at Silver Bow Fly Shop, 13210 E Indiana Ave., telephone 924-9998.

Winter Steelhead Clinic: Learn winter Spey rod tactics from master guide and spey line designer Tom Larimer,  April 6, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Free.

Beginner Spey Class with Tom Larimer, April 7, 8 a.m.-noon. Cost: $150. Rods/reels provided.

Advanced Spey Class with Tom Larimer, April 7, 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Cost: $150. Rods/reels provided.

Steelhead fishing reopens on Wenatchee, Icicle, Methow rivers

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.

Steelheaders reporting good catches in Snake and Grande Ronde

FISHING - Friday was a shirt-sleeve day with plenty of action for Grande Ronde River steelheaders.

Dennis Matsuda and Dan Hansen of Spokane caught and released 13 steelhead during the day, some of them beautifully fall bright fish.

Not bad for February.

Fishing film helps anglers ‘Connect’ with wild steelhead

FISHING — A Spokane showing of “Connect,” the 3rd film from Confluence Films, will be shown on Feb. 22 as a benefit to raise money for the Wild Steelhead Coalition and efforts to protect Columbia River wild steelhead.

The film features six international fishing locations, 12 anglers, 10 fish species and one angry croc.

The 2011 Fly Fishing Film Tour featured a clip of Connect, but the full feature film will be shown Wednesday at The Lincoln Center, 1316 North Lincoln Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7.

Tickets will cost $5 at the the door; procedes from tickets and raffle items will go the WSC.

 Info: Josh Mills,  jmills81@hotmail.com  or contact Silver Bow Fly Shop

Women with Bait steelhead tourney kicks off at Riggins

FISHING — It's time for a women's road trip to Riggins, Idaho, to warm up the town and win cash in the Women with Bait steelhead fishing derby on the Salmon River.

Every guided boatload of ladies gets a “bait boy” to do all the dirty work so the women can concentrate on catching fish.

The event opens Wednesday and runs through March 3. 

Contestants get a grab bag of goodies and the chance to win cash or prizes for the most fish, the biggest fish and even the smallest fish during that period.

 Contestants also tend to be a hit back home when they serve fresh steelhead for dinner.

The entry fee of $200 per angler includes the cost of the guide, gear, fish handling, boat, food and derby registration.

See the 2012 tournament rules.

Get more details from Exodus Wilderness Adventures, (800) 992-3484 or email riverescape@frontier.com.

New Asotin County wildlife area brings Blue Mountains Complex to 68,000 acres

PUBLIC LANDS — The public and wildlife soon will be sharing a new chunk of an elk-friendly ranch and Grande Ronde River access in southern Asotin County. The 2,200-acre parcel bordering the Grande Ronde River was approved for acquisition Saturday by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The land, accessible off the Grande Ronde Road between Boggan’s Oasis and Troy, Ore.,will be the first phase of what is planned to be an even larger acquisition over about 10 years from Milton (Mike) Odom II and the 4-0 Livestock and Land Company LLC.

The area is tentatively being called the Mountain View Project, said Bob Dice, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife area manager in Clarkston.

The acquisition brings the total acreage in the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to more than 68,000 acres, Dice said.  The other units in the complex include the Chief Joseph, Asotin Creek and Wooten wildlife areas.

Read on for more details.

WA sportsmen have two program choices on Tuesday: Fish conservation or whitetail research

OUTDOOR EDUCATION — Local sportsmens groups are sponsoring two programs of interest this week in Spokane.

Unfortunately for the universal sportsman, both programs are set for Tuesday starting at 7 p.m..

  • Steelhead fisheries in Washington, and update on Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River Dam removal, by Rob Masoni, Trout Unlimited Western vice president, Tuesday at Northern Lights Brewery, 1003 E. Trent Ave. Sponsored by TU Spokane Falls Chapter.
  • Whitetail deer research project in northeastern Washington, by Woody Myers, Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, Tuesday at Inland Northwest Wildlife Council auditorium, 6116 N. Market St. Sponsored by Inland NW Wildlife Council.

Idaho steelheading continues; note new rules this year

FISHING — Idaho's steelhead harvest season continues on the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon and lower Snake rivers with some new rules that went into effect Aug. 1.
In case you didn't catch on to them, the new rules allow anglers to transport anadromous salmon and steelhead without the head and tail attached – but only under a number of conditions:
  • 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.
  • It 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.
The steelhead limit on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon is three a day and nine in possession. The limit on the Clearwater is two fish per day and six in possession. Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.
Idaho waters open for steelhead harvest are:
  • Boise River from its mouth upstream to Barber Dam.
  • Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream from the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
  • Little Salmon River from its mouth upstream 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 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.
Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, except on the Boise River, and they may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released immediately.
Click here for more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho.

Salmon River steelheading hot as interest wanes

FISHING — The holidays are taking a bite out of the fishing pressure on the Snake and Salmon rivers, but the fishing in the Salmon near Riggins has been very good for anglers with a pass to leave home.

“A lot of bigger native steelhead have moved into the river system, many over 32-inches,” Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures reported Wednesday afternoon.  “Recent rains have not affected the river which is in good shape with great visibility; water flow at 5110 CFS. Water temperature last week hovered between 37-38 degrees. However a cold snap over the weekend dropped the river temperature to 36 degrees which slowed the fish down and have them holding in the deeper pools. Deep diving, slow action plugs, bait divers and drifting bait seem to be the best methods to entice the fish.”

So how good has the fishing action been?  Check out this report from Sinclair:

Salmon River (Riggins) creel report for Nov. 13-20

42 anglers fished with Exodus hooking into 100 steelhead or 2.4 fish per person and landed 71 or 1.7 fish per person.

Birthday boy Jeff Lind from Athol, Idaho, limited out by 12:30 pm with drift boat guide Jeff Wieber on Nov. 19.

Terry Pike from Columbus, Ohio, landed the  MONSTER 36-inch  native steelhead (pictured above) that gave him quite a fight from the drift boat guided by Norm Klobetanz.

Anglers not holding a high standard along Snake River

FISHING – Anglers along the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers have been leaving a lot to be desired in the categories of ethics and compliance with fishing rules.

On a recent boat patrol along the Snake River upstream from Clarkston, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department police found plenty of lawbreakers.

Fourteen citations were issued in the fourhour patrol, reports Capt. Mike Whorton, department enforcement supervisor in Spokane.  

Steelhead movements slow down on Snake River

FISHING — The number of steelhead climbing over Lower Granite Dam has slowed to 100-200 a day as the fish start hunkering in for the winter and the next big surge of movements in February or March.

There should be plenty of fish to catch in the Snake and tributaries if you can zero in on them.

But other factors play a role in angler success from week to week and even day to day.

Last week, Salmon River anglers from the Riggins area were riding high with great fishing success.  But the weekend brought change, as Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures observes in this post-weekend wrapup:

Steelhead fishing was definitely affected by the storm system front and the full moon over the weekend; Saturday was one of the toughest fishing days of the year with few fish found throughout the entire river corridor. Fortunately the moon is waning and the weather pattern has settled and already the fishing has picked back up and returned to the incredible fishing we had for the past 2 weeks. While water temperatures continue to hover between 37-38 degrees, the fish are maintaining interest in plugs and in particular the infamous “truck and trailer”. These fish are still very acrobatic and we have started to see many more natives, especially over 32” in the last few days.

Steelhead fishing access pinpointed on Snake tributaries

FISHING — After reading my outdoors column on steelheading puzzles along the Snake River and tributaries, some readers are asking where they can go fishing on the Touchet and Tucannon rivers.

Touchet River steelheading is allowed during the June-through-October gamefish season, as well as during the steelhead season that runs Nov. 1-March 31.

Much of the Touchet is private, but anglers find access:

  • At levees within the towns of  Dayton and Waittsburg.
  • Between the two towns at Lewis and Clark Trail State Park.
  • At the WDFW Dodd fishing access site nine miles north of Touchet and Highway 12.
  • And from private landowners who often give permission to anglers who ask.

Tucannon River steelheaders find easy public fishing access in the first mile of river up from the Snake.

Farther upstream, one encounters mostly private land for miles. Permission for one property often is granted at the Tucannon River RV Park above Starbuck.

Anglers also can find access on state and national forest land farther upstream to the Tucannon Hatchery, but most of the steelhead harvest occurs downstream from Highway 12.

Historically, December is an excellent month for steelheading on the Tucannon.

Fastest steelhead fishing reported upstream in Snake, Salmon

STEELHEADING — The latest Idaho steelhead fishing harvest report indicates slower than normal fishing in the lower reaches of the Snake River, but good fishing upstream from the Salmon River.

Great fishing has been reported from the Salmon River area near Riggins.  Read on for details. 

Most steelhead over Lower Grainite, waiting to be caught

FISHING — The movement of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam has slowed way down, but more than 167,000 of the fish have climbed over the dam and are making themselves available to anglers throughout the upper system.

Lower Hanford Reach salmon season extended through Oct. 31

SALMON FISHING — The fishing season for chinook and coho salmon will be extended in the lower Hanford Reach of the Columbia through Oct. 31, the Washignton Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.

 The extension affects the sport salmon fishery in the Columbia River between the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco and the wooden power line towers at the old Hanford townsite.

The season previously was set to end Sunday.

Read on for details.

Metalhead flick featured at Spokane TU gathering

FISHING — If you're a steelheading fly-fisher and you haven't seen the BC fishing flick Metalhead, now's the time. 

Even if you have seen it, the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited suggests joining them and having some fun and watching the film as they show the movie Monday (Oct 24) starting at 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Avenue in Spokane.

Metalhead is an exciting film from AEG productions. It features die-hard trout bums hooking up with impressive BC steelhead and having a dirt-bag adventure in the wilds of Canada's pristine steelhead country.

Cost: $7 bucks at the door - $5 bucks if you purchase beforehand from Silverbow, Swedes, Westslope or Castaway Flyshop out in Coeur d'Alene

Why: come have fun and support steelhead/trout conservation in Eastern Washington
Bring some cash for the raffle and join TU at the Saranac Public House from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. before the show for beverages (happy hour prices) and fishing stories.
Still have questions? Email me at jerrywhitefish@gmail.com

Idaho anglers asked to distinguish salmon, steelhead

FISHING — Idaho Fish and Game officials just posted this notice to holders of three-day salmon-steelhead permits fishing in waters and at times when steelhead and chinook salmon both are present and can be caught and kept:

Differentiate harvest of the two species on your permits.

The three-day permits are valid for both salmon and steelhead, and anglers get only the single permit. The intent with the three-day permit has been that it could be used for the salmon season or the steelhead season. Those two seasons usually don’t overlap, and only one species was recorded on a permit for the three days fished.

Read on for more details.

Steelhead ebbing in tide over Lower Granite

STEELHEAD FISHING — The fish are still running up the Snake and over Lower Granite Dam in numbers over 1,000 a day, but the number of new fish heading into Idaho waters is slowing.

The steelhead count over Bonneville Dam at the mouth of the Columbia had slowed on Sunday to just 127 fish a day, while 1,115 moved over Lower Granite Dam near Clarkston the same day.

The total number of steelhead over Bonneville since July 1 is 353,657 compared with 379,434
last year.

That helps confirm we're enjoying an above-average year.

The five-year average for this date over Bonneville is 384,339 and 159,215 over Lower Granite.

Brian O’Keefe details NW steelheading in Spokane program

FLY FISHING – Brian O’Keefe, an Oregon-based outdoor photographer and fly-fishing ace, will present a free program, Northwest Steelheading. Wednesday, 7 p.m., at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, hosted by the Spokane Fly Fishers.

• O’Keefe will teach a two-hour fishing photography seminar starting at 4 p.m., but class size is limited. Cost: $5.

Preregister: tytlynz@gmail.com

Steelhead moving as rain cools rivers

FISHING — Rain has cooled water temps in the Snake River system, causing fish to move and expand their range upstream.

Here's the report from Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures in Riggins:

The fishing report for Riggings, Idaho, iSteelhead Fishing is underway on the Salmon River. Fish are being caught as the season gets started here in the Riggins area. Last weeks rain was both a blessing and a nuisance; the rain brought the river level up, the water clarity down and the water temperature down.

Current water level is 5800 CFS, about 1000 CFS more that last week at this time. Water color is olive green with about 2 feet of visibility and best of all water temperature is dropping fast and as of this morning we are at 51 degrees, about 8-9 degrees cooler than this time last week. That is sure to bring those fish into the Salmon River and start filling all of your favorite holes.

Salmon River anglers expecting steelhead surge

STEELHEAD FISHING — The march is on for steelhead making their way up the Snake and then up the Salmon River into the Riggins area.

More than 360,000 steelhead have crossed Bonneville Dam in the lower Columbia.  More than 130,000 of those fish have made it past several dams, gillnets and many hooks to cross up and over Lower Granite Dam on the Snake downstream from Lewiston.

Now the fish are moving up the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

Prime steelheading in the Riggins area generally is from mid October until early December, said Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures

Prime winter steelhead fishing on the Salmon River in the Riggins area is from late January-early February to early March, she said.

 The daily limit is three hatchery steelhead.

Idaho steelheading still a marvel to behold

STEELHEAD FISHING — A couple of tidbits to ponder:

  • Idaho's state record steelhead was 30 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.
  • Idaho is the only inland Western state with ocean-run salmon and steelhead.