ADULT STEELHEAD

Adults generally 20-40 inches in length. Irregularly shaped black spots on back, dorsal fin and tail. STEELHEAD are ocean-run rainbow which spawn in Snake, Clearwater and Salmon drainages; juveniles migrate to the ocean, return as adults after 1-2 years. NATIVE.

 

JUVENILE RAINBOW TROUT/STEELHEAD

Tail fin is square or slightly forked. Dorsal fin has distinct, black-pigmented spots. Parr marks are almost round.

 

   Illustration by Joseph Tomelleri.



Links to more information about Steelhead:

 

Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society


 

 

Idaho Steelhead Seasons, Rules and Information

 

What Is A Steelhead?

Steelhead are rainbow trout longer than 20 inches in length in the Snake River drainage below Hells Canyon Dam, the Salmon River drainage (excluding lakes and the Pahsimeroi and Lemhi rivers), and the Clearwater River drainage (excluding that portion above Dworshak Dam and lakes). Rainbow trout longer than 20 inches in length with the adipose fin clipped (as evidenced by a healed scar) are defined as steelhead in the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam upstream to Oxbow Dam, and in the Boise River from its mouth upstream to Barber Dam, and in the Payette River from its mouth upstream to Black Canyon Dam, during steelhead seasons.

Only steelhead with a clipped adipose fin (as evidenced by a healed scar) may be kept. These are steelhead produced in fish hatcheries which have had their adipose fin removed as juveniles. All steelhead with a non-clipped adipose fin must be released immediately to preserve the remaining wild steelhead and because wild steelhead are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Some hatchery steelhead are not clipped as part of a program to develop additional runs of natural spawing fish. These steelhead must also be released immediately.

Licenses—Steelhead Permits

Resident Fishing License. . . . . . . . . . . . $25.75

Nonresident Fishing License. . . . . . . . . .$82.00

Junior (14-17 years) Resident and

Nonresident Fishing License. . . . . . . . . .$13.75

Steelhead Permit

(Full Season License Required). . . . . . . $12.75

Nonresident Salmon or

Steelhead 3-day License/Permit

(includes 3-day general fishing). . . . . . . .$31.50

(Prices are accurate for January 1, 2008 but are subject to change by Legislative action.)

Anyone, except those expressly exempt, must have a valid fishing license and steelhead permit to fish for, reduce to possession, or catch-and-release steelhead. No steelhead permit is valid unless it has been properly sealed in the permit portion of the tag/permit pouch.

Any person who does not qualify as a resident must purchase either a nonresident season fishing license and a full-season steelhead permit or a nonresident 3-day salmon/steelhead license/permit.

In order to qualify for resident status, a person must be domiciled in the state for at least six months. See page 6.

Children (including nonresident children) under the age of 14 are exempt from purchasing steelhead permits. They may fish without permits if they are accompanied by a valid permit holder, provided that any fish caught must be recorded on the permit holder’s card and counted in the permit holder’s legal bag, possession and season limit. A resident child under 14 may purchase a permit without a license so that he or she may catch his or her own limit of steelhead.

When excess hatchery steelhead become available at fish hatcheries or trap facilities, they may be released in the Snake River between Hells Canyon and Oxbow dams, and in the Payette or Boise rivers to provide additional fishing opportunity. A steelhead permit is required when fishing for hatchery steelhead stocked by IDFG in these waters.

Methods of Take

• No person shall kill or retain in possession any steelhead which has been hooked other than in the mouth or jaw. Any steelhead hooked other than in the mouth or jaw must be released unharmed. See snagging definition on page 11.

• Steelhead may be taken only with barbless hooks in the Salmon, Snake and Clearwater river drainages. Bending the barb down to the shank of a single, double, or treble hook will meet this requirement.

• Steelhead may be taken with barbed hooks in the Boise and Payette river drainages, and the Snake River between Hells Canyon and Oxbow dams.

PLEASE NOTE

• Steelhead caught in a legal manner must be either released or killed immediately after landing.

• All fish that are hooked, landed, and not immediately released shall be counted in the limits of the person hooking the fish.

• No person shall have in the field or in transit any steelhead from which the head or tail has been removed.

 

Steelhead Rules

River Location Codes

Snake River

Snake River, downstream from Salmon River. . . . . . . . . . . . .01

Snake River, from Salmon River

to Hells Canyon Dam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02

Snake River, Hells Canyon Dam to Oxbow Dam. . . . . . . . . .27

Clearwater River

Clearwater River, downstream from Orofino Bridge. . . . . . . 03

Clearwater River, upstream from Orofino Bridge. . . . . . . . . .04

North Fork Clearwater River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 05

South Fork Clearwater River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .07

Salmon River

Salmon River, downstream from Whitebird Creek. . . . . . . . .10

Salmon River, Whitebird Creek to Little Salmon. . . . . . . . . . 11

Salmon River, Little Salmon to Vinegar Creek. . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Salmon River, Vinegar Creek to South Fork. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Salmon River, South Fork to Middle Fork. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Salmon River, Middle Fork to North Fork. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Salmon River, North Fork to Lemhi River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

Salmon River, Lemhi River to Pahsimeroi River. . . . . . . . . . 17

Salmon River, Pahsimeroi River to East Fork. . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Salmon River, upstream from the East Fork. . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Other

Little Salmon River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Boise River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Payette River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

IDFG Logo 

 

 

Steelhead Seasons and Limits

 

RIVER SECTION

Spring Season

20 fish per season

 

Fall Season

20 fish per season

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

CLEARWATER RIVER from its mouth upstream to the Memorial Bridgeof U.S. Highway 12 at Lewiston .

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day,

9 in possession

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

Jul 1-31

Catch-and-

Release

 

Aug 1 - Dec 31

2 per day, 6 in possession

 

CLEARWATER

RIVER: MAINSTEM

and MIDDLE FORK

CLEARWATER RIVER from the Memorial Bridgeof U.S. Highway 12 at Lewiston upstream to Clear Creek.

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

Jul 1-Oct 14

Catch-and-Release

 

Oct 15 - Dec 31

2 per day,

6 in possession

 

Closures: Fishing is PROHIBITED between posted boundaries approximately 100 yards upstream and downstream from

the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery Ladder and extending into the river channel approximately 50 yards. Fishing from

the shoreline or wading along the perimeter of Dworshak National Fish Hatchery is PROHIBITED. Fishing from motorized

watercraft is PROHIBITED from the Clearwater River Bridge at Orofino upstream to the mouth of Clear Creek from

Sep 15 - Apr 30.

NORTH FORK

CLEARWATER RIVER from its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam.

 

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

Jul 1-Oct 14

Catch-and-Release

 

Oct 15 - Dec 31

2 per day,

6 in possession

 

Closures: Fishing from the shoreline or wading along the perimeter of Dworshak National Fish Hatchery is PROHIBITED.

Fishing from any watercraft or wading is PROHIBITED between the posted line approximately 150 yards upstream from the

mouth of the North Fork Clearwater River and the Ahsahka Highway 7 Bridge. When fishing from the Ahsahka Highway 7

Bridge, it is unlawful to take any fish downstream of the railroad bridge. Fishing from the railroad bridge is PROHIBITED.

 

SOUTH FORK

CLEARWATER RIVER from its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red rivers.

 

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

Jul 1-Oct 14

Catch-and-Release

 

Oct 15 - Dec 31

2 per day,

6 in possession

 

SALMON RIVER from its mouth upstream to the

Lake Creek Bridge (about 6 miles upstream from the

mouth of the Little Salmon River).

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

Aug 1 - Aug 31 Catch-and-Release

 

Sep 1 - Dec 31

3 per day, 9 in possession

 

SALMON RIVER from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek (1/4 mile upstream from the Middle Fork Salmon River).

Jan 1 - Mar 31

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

SALMON RIVER from Long Tom Creek (1/4 mile upstream from the Middle Fork Salmon River) to posted boundary 100 yards downstream of Sawtooth Hatchery.

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

LITTLE SALMON

RIVER from its mouth

upstream to the U.S.

Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder road.

Jan 1 - May 15

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

Aug 1 - Aug 31

Catch-and-Release

 

Sep 1 - Dec 31

3 per day, 9 in possession

 

 

SNAKE RIVER from at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.

Jan 1 - April 30

3 per day, 9 in possession

Closed to

steelhead

fishing

 

SNAKE RIVER from

Hells Canyon Dam to

Oxbow Dam, PAYETTE RIVER from its mouth upstream to Black Canyon Dam, and BOISE RIVER from its mouth upstream to Barber Dam.

Jan 1 - May 31

3 per day, 9 in possession

 

Not present

 

Sep 1 - Dec 31

3 per day,

9 in possession

 

Adult steelhead are only present in the Boise and Payette rivers and the Snake

River above Hells Canyon Dam when stocked by IDFG. Check with regional

offices to determine if steelhead have been released that year. A steelhead

permit is required to fish for and keep steelhead (rainbow trout longer than 20

inches with a clipped adipose fin). Limits are 3 per day and 9 in possession

when steelhead are present. Barbless hooks are not required.

 

 

STEELHEAD HARVEST SURVEY

Steelhead harvest and angler participation are estimated by a telephone survey conducted within a few weeks after the season closes. You may be called and asked about your effort and success.

Please save your permit until three months after the season has closed or until you are contacted by IDFG.

 

Steelhead Rules

PERMIT VALIDATION

When a steelhead has been hooked, landed, and reduced to possession, the angler hooking the fish must immediately:

1. Completely remove one numbered notch (*) from the permit;

2. Look up the number code from the River Location Code List and write it in the space provided; and

3. Enter the month and day the fish was caught.

However, when a steelhead is released unharmed, as in no-harvest fishing, the angler is not required to make an entry on the permit.

For example, a fish caught from the Salmon River between the Middle and North Forks on October 22 would be entered as:

Idaho Fish and Game

 

STEELHEAD FISHING IN BOUNDARY WATERS

Snake River between Idaho and Oregon or Washington: The holder of a valid Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit may fish for steelhead in the Snake River where it forms the boundary between the states of Idaho and Oregon or Washington, subject to the fish and game laws of Idaho, but may not fish from the shoreline, including wading, and may not fish in sloughs or tributaries on the Oregon or Washington side. An Oregon or Washington license holder has the same rights and restrictions with reference to the Idaho side. Any angler who fishes on the Snake River or any other water forming an Idaho boundary is entitled to have in possession only the limit allowed by one license regardless of the number of licenses in possession.

  Washington/Idaho Fishing Waters Boundaries