Clearwater River

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



If I only have a steelhead permit can I take a picture with a salmon.

If I am fishing for Steelhead, with proper license and permit, and I catch a Chinook salmon without a salmon permit. Can I legally take a "safe for the fish" picture with the fish before releasing it?
I am not saying beaching the fish or tossing it up on shore for a picture but can I take a picture of it in the water or have someone take a picture of me just barely holding it out of the water before releasing?

If it is out of season, and I legally can not harvest/target chinook could I take a picture with one if it were caught?

Does it look like the Chinook fishing season will extend past Oct. 31 for Snake/Mainstem Clearwater?

I am very happy to be able to fish in the historic chinook return this year. I was wondering about the quote on "The timing and length of Idaho’s salmon fishing seasons depends on the number of fish returning to Idaho in any given year."

Is this a strong possibility this year given the return over Bonneville (844083 fall chinook) and Lower Granite (42276 fall Chinook)?

I was just curious how that process worked and when the decision would be made? It seems like if it were ever extended this would be the year.

Fall Chinook Update on Clearwater and Snake Rivers 10/02/12

Section 3 of the Snake River (Couse Crk –Cache Crk) had great catch rates this week and the highest amount of adults and jacks harvested. The guides are hitting Heller Bar hard and bringing in a lot of jacks this past week. Almost every Chinook that our clerks have been able to get their hands on has beeped positive for coded wire. We also saw a left opercule punch on a jack up at Heller Bar. I have not yet received Section 5 data, but as soon as I do I will get it out to everyone. - Jaime Mills, Clearwater Fisheries Technician

Steelhead Creel Numbers 9/30/12


STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS For Weekend of 9/30/2012    
River Location No. Anglers Checked No. of Hours No. of Fish Kept No. of Fish Released Total Fish Hours/Fish Water
caught kept Temp (F) Conditions
01  Snake River - Downstream from Salmon River 94 529 9 4 13 41 59 66 CLR
03  Clearwater River - Mouth to Memorial Bridge 114 492 20 14 34 14 25 55 CLR

03A  Clearwater  - Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge

14 72 0 7 7 10 -- 55 CLR

Clearwater Steelhead Weekend Creel Numbers 9/8/12

STEELHEAD CREEL NUMBERS  (Unexpanded Estimates*)

        For Weekend of:  9/8/2012

                                                                        NO. ANGLERS                       NO. OF        NO. OF  FISH                                            

                                                                          CHECKED             NO.      FISH KEPT   RELEASED   TOTAL   WATER              

SECTION          RIVER LOCATION                                       HOURS                                                       FISH     TEMP (°F)      

01             Snake R. –

                    Downstream from Salmon R.                      64             268            4                 7                         11               68    

02             Clearwater River –

                    Mouth to Memorial Bridge                          17               71             1                 0                          1                52    

03A          Clearwater River

                    Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge **         15              76             0                 0                          0                 54  


    * The values shown are unexpanded sample data and estimates of fishing effort and success.

   ** Before October 15, steelhead fishing upstream of Memorial Bridge of U.S. Highway 12 at Lewiston is catch-and-release only.

  *** CLR = clear; CDY = cloudy; MDY = muddy.


Fishing for Spring Chinook on Clearwater Ends Soon.

Hi all, this will be my last weekly update for spring/summer Chinook.  Last week we documented harvest of Chinook at only one location –the North Fork Clearwater River (35 fish caught).  Catch rates were quite good (5 hrs/fish), but reports are the fish are starting to turn.  For you diehards out there, some have indicate they still are very good smoked. 

We've finally have gotten to the point where it’s time to shut down all Chinook salmon fishing in the Clearwater Region.  At the end of fishing hours on August 5, 2012, the Chinook salmon season will end in the Clearwater Region.  This includes the Clearwater River drainage, the Snake River (Hells Canyon Reach), the lower Salmon River (Park Hole area), and the Little Salmon River.  That being said, you can start harvesting steelhead in the lower Clearwater (downstream of Memorial Bridge) starting Aug 1, and the fall Chinook season will start September 1.  It never ends does it?   What a nice place we live in!

For those of you who like to fish for fall Chinook, details for the season are as follows:

  • The season start September 1 and will continue until further notice or October 31, whichever comes first.
  • The fishery will occur in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.
  • The Snake River fishery will open in four sections:
  • From the Washington-Idaho border to Bridge Street bridge.
  • From Bridge Street bridge to the Oregon-Washington border.
  • From the Oregon-Washington border to the mouth of Sheep Creek.
  • From the mouth of Sheep Creek to Hells Canyon Dam.
  • The Clearwater River will open from its mouth to the Memorial Bridge.
  • Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin Chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam (some of these exceed 40 lbs).  It’s possible one of these could exceed the current Idaho state record (54 lbs).
  • Anglers may keep only fish with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar. All salmon with an intact adipose fin must be released.
  • The daily limit is six adult fall Chinook, and the possession limit is 18. There is no season limit on adult fall Chinook. There are no daily or possession limits on jacks and anglers are not required to mark jacks on their salmon permit.
  • Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. When the daily, possession limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing for salmon, including catch and-release.
  • Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon. A salmon permit used during the spring or summer season is still valid for the fall season.

I’ll try and get you some updates about steelhead and fall Chinook as we get more details about the run size and catch rates.

On a different note.  For those of you who like catching Kokanee, the fishing at Dworshak has been fantastic.   Some have claimed the fishing is as good as they have ever seen it.  Some are getting daily limits (25 fish) of 12-13 inches, that are fat healthy fish.  The best fishing seems to be upstream of Dent Bridge with many now fishing around Grandad Bridge.  We are trawling Dworshak Reservoir this week, so we will get you some updates shortly on what we find.

I’m know some rumors are starting to go around regarding meeting brood stock needs at Rapid River hatchery so, I thought I’d let you all know the facts. To date, we are holding just over 1,200 Chinook at Rapid River hatchery. Our goal is to collect around 2,200 fish. Typically, by this date we should have collected over 90% of our brood stock, and by the looks of it we will not reach or goal. Before you panic, we do have a backup plan and that is to collect extra brood from the Clearwater River basin (We have done this before). Right now, we are ahead of our brood stock collection goals for most of the hatcheries in the Clearwater Region, so we expect we will get enough extra fish to meet our deficit at Rapid River. Genetically, the Clearwater River fish are fairly similar to Rapid River fish as this stock was used to help restore this run in the past. So, that should not be an issue. We (IDFG and Tribe) will be going in detail over our creel programs to evaluate where we might have underestimated harvest of these fish (assuming that was the problem). Our goals is to continually learn how to better monitor this fishery so these types of issues occur less often.

Talk to you all later.  - Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager