Hi everybody, we are implementing rule changes for steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River that you all should be aware of. First I will let you know what the rule changes are and then I will let you know why we made these changes.
Starting on the season opener (October 15, 2013), for the entire Clearwater River basin where steelhead fishing is allowed, the limit will be 1 adipose clipped steelhead, 2 in possession (see attachment).
In addition, from the mouth of the Clearwater River upstream to the Orofino Bridge including the North Fork Clearwater River, only adipose clipped steelhead less than or equal to 28 inches can be harvested.
These rules will apply for both the fall and spring seasons which means they will remain in effect through April 30, 2014 after which the steelhead season closes in the Clearwater River basin.
Obviously, with these rules, people will be needing to measure some of these fish to make sure they are legal. Here are my recommendations to minimize handling mortality. If the fish is clearly larger than 28 inches don’t take it out of the water unless you want to take a quick picture. For those fish close to 28 inches, put some marks on the outside of your boat that you can rest the fish against to check it’s length against (you may be able to do this without taking the fish out of the net). This will help prevent people from dropping a struggling fish in the bottom of their boat increasing the likelihood of handling mortality. For bank anglers, try to keep the fish in the water while measuring it. If you turn a steelhead upside down while in the water, it tends to remain calm allowing you to accurately measure this fish (this requires two of you though).
I imagine, for some of you, these rule changes have your blood boiling. Please bear with me and read on so you understand why we had to make these rule changes.