Weekend Survey on Clearwater and Little Salmon 4/5/2014

The Little Salmon River and the South Fork Clearwater were a busy fishery over the weekend and catch rates were very good. Fish and Game has discontinued monitoring the Main Clearwater River due to minimal angler effort.  Effort observed on the Main Salmon River was also minimal.  Click here for more details - Amanda Schmidt, Fisheries Technician

Clearwater Anglers Can Keep the Big Ones.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to lift the restrictions on harvest of “B-run” steelhead on the Clearwater River for the remainder of the 2014 season effective immediately. The decision was made during the commission meeting on Thursday, March 20, 2014. 

“B-run” steelhead are those that spend two years in the ocean as opposed to “A-run” steelhead which typically return to Idaho after only one year in the ocean. Prior to this change, anglers on the Clearwater River were only allowed to keep steelhead between 20 and 28 inches in length. The change will allow those anglers to keep steelhead longer than 28 inches as long as they have evidence of a clipped adipose fin. The daily bag limit of 1 and the possession limit of 2 remain the same on the Clearwater River for the remainder of the 2014 spring season.


Weekend Creel Survey for Clearwater 3/23/14

The busiest area this past weekend in the region was on the South Fork of the Clearwater (river sect 07). Hours per fish caught was only 4 hours, which resulted in really good fishing. Many anglers chose to release a lot of the hatchery fish they caught, which resulted in higher hours per fish kept.  Effort has continued to drop on the main stem of the Clearwater. The Little Salmon also had a lot of anglers on it this past weekend and had some pretty could catch rates. Click here for more details. Over all the weather was nice and the water was clearer than the previous weekend.  - Jaime Robertson. Fisheries Technician

Clearwater & Snake Rivers Weekend Report for 3/8/2014

The Snake River is showing really good catch rates and good water clarity but, it had very little effort this weekend. This past week, the Clearwater and Salmon rivers were running high with rain and snow melt causing the water clarity to be poor and it made fishing difficult. River section 03 mouth of Clearwater to Orofino bridge had no documented anglers and fishing effort was low during the week as well. It looks like some of the shore effort moved over to the North Fork of the Clearwater for somewhat clearer water.  If you get onto the USGS site and look at the water conditions around Stites on the South Fork of the Clearwater it does look as if the water level is peaking so hopefully water conditions will improve within the near future and make for better fishing. Click here for more details.

Photo from Lindsey Bischoff shows spring runoff affecting the North Fork of the Clearwater above Dworshak Dam.

- Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician



Upper Salmon River Steelhead Weekend Report 3/02/14

This past weekend, road conditions improved enough below North Fork for creel personnel to collect data from all location codes on the upper Salmon River. Anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 5 hours per steelhead caught and 10 hours per steelhead kept. Effort was minimal and no steelhead were observed caught in location code 15. Location code 16 received the most angler effort over the weekend, and anglers there averaged 49 hours per steelhead caught and 147 per steelhead kept. Anglers in location code 17, from the mouth of the Lemhi River to the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River, averaged 9 hours per steelhead caught and 15 hours per steelhead kept. Similar to last week, angler effort was low upstream of Ellis. The few interviews that were obtained from upstream produced averages of 8 hours per steelhead caught in location code 18 and 17 hours per steelhead caught, or kept, in location code 19.  Click here for complete summary.

The Deadwater ice jam has receded back to Deadwater. With warmer weather in the forecast, it may go out within the week. Water conditions downstream of Deadwater remained muddy throughout the weekend, with visibility around 18 inches. Additionally, all boat ramps between Salmon and North Fork have been cleared of ice, with the exception of the 4th of July Access Area. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician

Steelhead Fishing on the Clearwater 2/11/13

This past week the Clearwater Region saw almost a foot of snow or more in some areas. As a result Idaho Fish & Games weekend creel survey did not document any anglers on the South Fork of the Clearwater, Hells Canyon Dam and Salmon River.  Lewiston Tribune reporter, Eric Barker, recently reported that weather and other events are keeping many anglers off the rivers, but for those who are willing to face them have experienced some good fishing at times....

Steelhead surprise on the Clearwater: Die-hard anglers seeing decent catch as crowds stay off the Clearwater and the big fish stick around.

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:00 am |  Updated: 7:20 am, Fri Feb 7, 2014.  

By ERIC BARKER of the Lewiston Morning Tribune 

Steelhead anglers fishing the Clearwater River have seen restrictive regulations, low bag limits and a disappointing return of B-run fish this fall and winter.

Those conditions have kept efforts low, but anglers willing to face them have experienced some darn good fishing at times.

"You basically have the river to yourself," said Andy Alldredge of Camp, Cabin and Home in Lewiston. "There is plenty of fish around."

The Clearwater, especially the stretch between Lewiston and Orofino, is not the best place to go for those looking to take home a steelhead. Special regulations aimed at ensuring there are enough steelhead for spawning at hatcheries, restrict harvest to fish that are no more than 28 inches long. That has led to some funny-looking harvest statistics.

For example, last weekend anglers on the Lewiston-to-Orofino stretch of the Clearwater landed a steelhead for every six hours of fishing. That's about as good as it gets there. But anglers had to put in 56 hours for every keeper.

"The catching is very good, I would say it's as good as it is in good years. The harvest rates are way down because you can't harvest the big fish," said Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the department at Lewiston. "The reason the catch rates are so good is the effort is very low and the big fish stay out there. We are not cropping (big) hatchery fish, and there is not a lot of competition."

Don Whitney, another Fish and Game biologist, said he and the creel clerks who work for him have heard few complaints from anglers about the harvest restrictions.

"It seems like people understand the restrictions, that if we don't have the brood, we can't release the smolt."

Hatchery fish are in the system so anglers can catch them. But the system depends on enough fish escaping the fisheries and returning to hatcheries so the next generation of fish can be produced.

Normally that is not a problem. In fact, fisheries managers often fret that too many hatchery fish remain left uncaught and that they could pose a threat to protected wild steelhead by breeding with them and reducing the fitness of their offspring.

But this was a poor year for steelhead returns and especially bad for B-run steelhead bound for the Clearwater. Last October, fisheries officials estimated only 5,800 hatchery B-run steelhead would return this fall and only about 2,000 would be bound for Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery has a goal of collecting 2,000 steelhead for spawning.

Dworshak Hatchery met its goal of collecting about 500 steelhead in the fall and has started to collect the remainder of the fish. Both DuPont and Steve Rodgers, managers of the Dworshak complex, said they expect to meet collection goals.

"We really don't have any concern about making it," Rodgers said.

Barker may be contacted at or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

--Reposted with permission

Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

Julie's First Turkey

I first started hunting turkeys in the spring season of 2012. Prior to that, I had only shot at three pheasants, and missed. I had tagged along on many, many hunts for waterfowl, upland birds, and deer, but this would be my first season truly attempting to fill a tag. During the spring of 2012, I spent many early mornings and full days pursuing turkeys. I even had the opportunity to shoot at three big gobblers. Even though I had been great at target & skeet shooting, turkey fever seemed to get the best of me all season long! Each time I missed a gobbler, I felt utterly devastated. There were a few rides home in the truck that consisted of me crying and feeling terrible. How could these big, gnarly birds get me so worked up?

The next spring season rolled around and by that time, I had shot 25 birds including grouse, ducks, geese and one Hungarian partridge. The fall/winter had been good to me and I was determined and feeling very confident on finally getting a turkey! The spring of 2013 was a great one, but again, I came up empty handed. That season, I never even had the opportunity to shoot at one. What a bummer!!!!!

Fall turkey season came around again this year (2013), and honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about turkeys. I just shot my first deer this October, and have been very successful with grouse again. When my boyfriend, Chattan, who has been my hunting guide all along, suggested we try for some fall turkeys, I couldn’t help but want to try again. We got permission from a landowner and were able to do a spot and stalk on private land. We snuck up a small hill to peer into a draw where we thought they’d be, and sure enough, there were two nice gobblers. One for each of us! The lead gobbler started to run away, and Chattan told me to stand up and shoot him. Now was my chance. I took the shot and it was perfect. He was down! Chattan shot his immediately after. I was hollering for joy that we had both shot turkeys! It was my first one ever and his third. Words cannot explain my excitement after all the hard work and two unsuccessful spring seasons. My bird turned out to be a bit of a freak. He actually had SEVEN beards which totaled 32.5 inches in length. He weighed 18 lb 4 oz and had ¾” spurs. Through the NWTF website I entered the numbers and found out he scored 98.25. He was beautiful and came along just in time for Thanksgiving. I also shot a grouse on Thanksgiving day, which we threw in the pot, and so this was the first year where I have provided the meat for the holiday. What an unforgettable experience in Orofino, Idaho.  - Julie Tibbets