steelhead fishing

Anglers Help Catch Steelhead Brood Stock

Anglers Catch Steelhead Broodstock for South Fork Clearwater River

Since 2010, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been recruiting anglers to catch adult steelhead from the South Fork Clearwater River. These fish are being collected to develop a stock of steelhead that are more adapted to this river than fish used in the past (steelhead collected at Dworshak Hatchery). Our hopes are that the offspring from these fish will survive better resulting in more Steelhead returning to the South Fork Clearwater River in the future.

Typically we usually use weirs to trap adult steelhead to meet our brood stock needs. However, we don’t have this option in the South Fork Clearwater River, so we have turned to the angling public to collect the brood stock for us. Each year starting around the last week of February, IDFG personnel begin recruiting volunteer anglers and distributing tubes (see picture to the right) to capture and hold adult steelhead. Volunteers place hatchery steelhead they catch and want to donate to the program in a holding tube and place it in the river. Personnel from IDFG’s Clearwater Fish Hatchery operate transport vehicles and drive along the river collecting tubed steelhead that will be used as brood stock .

When the program began in 2010, the goal was to understand whether we could use anglers to catch steelhead from the South Fork Clearwater River, successfully spawn them, raise their offspring, and release these offspring one year later (as smolts) back to the South Fork. Initially we started with a goal of collecting 50 spawning pair. One year later (2011) we increased our goal to collect approximately 100 spawning pair to produce about 400,000 smolts. Due to our past success, this year Idaho Department of Fish and Game set a goal to collect enough spawners (225 spawning pair) to fulfill the entire 1.2 million smolt release goal in the South Fork Clearwater River. 

In order to accomplish this goal, IDFG began soliciting volunteer anglers to collect brood on February 13, 2015. Idaho Department of Fish and Game with assistance from the Nez Perce Tribe was able to enlist more than 100 volunteer anglers to participate in the South Fork Clearwater River localized brood program this year. Due to the warmer weather, steelhead seemed to be more spread out than in previous years, and anglers were successful in capturing fish from Stites on highway 13 all the way upstream to Mt. Idaho on highway 14.  Steelhead collected were placed in IDFG transport vehicles, and at the end of each day were hauled to Dworshak National Fish Hatchery where they were held until spawning.

We are proud to announce that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game with assistance from the Nez Perce Tribe, Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, and most notably the public were able to accomplish our goals of collecting 225 spawning pairs by March 7, 2015. These fish have all been spawned; and if all goes as planned, this will allow us to release about 1.2 million localized steelhead smolts into the South Fork Clearwater River in the spring of 2016.

As smolts from previous brood stock collections return as adults, we will be able to compare adult return success from fish produced through the localized brood stock collection and the adult returns produced through other hatchery strategies.

This project would be impossible without the participation of the angling public and the fish they collected. Many volunteers went above and beyond to help the project, some going so far as scheduling their vacation around this effort!  Many thanks to all the volunteers who participated!  - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Clearwater Steelhead Fishing 3/29/15

The South Fork of the Clearwater had the highest amount of effort this past week with the Little Salmon River not far behind. Both areas had good catch rates. Effort increased on the North Fork of the Clearwater from the previous week and produced good catch rates. Water levels increased over the weekend on the South Fork of the Clearwater and of the main stem of the Clearwater but the hydro graph looks like water levels may stabilize. The main stem of the Salmon River water level was continually fluctuating and from what the hydro graph shows the  water level is going up again. For more details go to the Harvest Report- Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Upper Salmon Steelhead Report 3/29/15

Steelhead fishing this week on the upper Salmon River remained similar to the previous week. The one exception was in location code 16, where angler effort increased and catch rates improved. The majority of anglers were observed in location code 17 near Ellis and upstream of the East Fork in location code 19. Overall, catch rates were good through Friday, but high temperatures on Friday and rain mixed with wind on Saturday caused flows to increase by Saturday which slowed the fishing down. Interviewed anglers in location code 15, upstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 73 hours per Steelhead caught and did not report keeping any Steelhead. Upstream of North Fork, in location code 16, interviewed anglers did much better than the previous week and averaged 17 hours per Steelhead caught and 88 hours per Steelhead kept. Interviewed anglers upstream of the Lemhi River, in location code 17, averaged 21 hours per Steelhead caught and 38 hours per Steelhead kept. Upstream of the Pahsimeroi River, in location code 18, interviewed anglers averaged 62 hours per Steelhead caught and 82 hours per Steelhead kept. The best fishing was once again found upstream of the East Fork, in location code 19. Interviewed anglers in this area averaged 8 hours per Steelhead caught and 16 hours per Steelhead kept.  Go to Harvest Reports for more detail.

Currently, the Salmon River is running high with cloudy visibility downstream of Stanley. As of Monday March 30th, the Salmon River is flowing at 2,150 cfs through the town of Salmon which is approximately 180% of average. Water temperatures in the mid to upper 40s were observed over the weekend.

As of Thursday, March 26th, the Pahsimeroi Hatchery has trapped 2,615 Steelhead while the Sawtooth Hatchery has trapped 1,431. Additionally, Kid’s Creek pond in Salmon was stocked with 256 adult Steelhead last week. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

Clearwater Steelhead Fishing 3/22/15

Clearwater Catch 2015

The South Fork of the Clearwater had a lot of anglers fishing along its banks this past week. Saturday had a high count of 114 anglers on the South Fork. We observed anglers fishing as far as mile marker 23 on highway 14. Many anglers are in drifting boats. It is also the area we documented with the highest amount of effort. Fishing has dropped off on the main stem (river sect 03) and the North Fork (river sect 05) but both areas still have good catch rates. The little Salmon River had the next highest effort and catch rates were good as well. The main stem of the Salmon River had very low effort but river flows were high which impacted effort and catch rates. So if you do not want to deal with the crowds the main stem of the Clearwater or the North Fork might be good areas to try.  Check Harvest Report for more details. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

 

Upper Salmon Steelhead Report 3/22/15

Steelhead fishing on the upper Salmon River this past week was tough for anglers fishing below the town of Salmon. Anglers were primarily found in location codes 17 and 19 downstream of the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth Hatcheries, but angler effort did remain relatively high downstream of North Fork. Interviewed anglers did not report catching any steelhead in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork. In location code 15, downstream of North Fork, interviewed anglers averaged 103 hours per steelhead caught and 360 hours per steelhead kept. Interviewed anglers fishing below the Lemhi River, in location code 16, also had to put in many hours to catch a fish and averaged 178 hours per steelhead caught or kept.

The fishing improved upstream of the Lemhi in location codes 17 through 19. Interviewed anglers in location code 17 averaged 27 hours per steelhead caught and 43 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream of the Pahsimeroi, in location code 18, interviewed anglers averaged 39 hours per steelhead caught and 136 hours per steelhead kept. The best fishing this week was again found upstream of the East Fork in location code 19. Interviewed anglers in this area averaged 8 hours per steelhead caught and 12 hours per steelhead kept.

Water conditions on the upper Salmon River were beginning to improve towards the end of the week, but cloudy water conditions still exist throughout the drainage. The best water clarity was observed in location code 19. Flows have remained fairly stable for the past few days and are above average for this time of year. Currently the Salmon River through the town of Salmon is flowing at 1,940 cfs which is 166% of average for today’s date. Water temperatures in the mid to upper 40s were observed in all location codes with the exception of location code 19 where the water temperature was in the lower 40s.

As of March 19th, the Pahsimeroi Hatchery had trapped 1,865 steelhead, while the Sawtooth Hatchery had trapped 571 steelhead. Additionally, Kid’s Creek Pond in Salmon was stocked with 150 adult steelhead on Friday, March 20th.  - Brett Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

Clearwater Steelhead Fishing 3/16/15

Anglers in the Clearwater Region experienced some of the best catch rates observed so far in the Spring 2015 Steelhead season. The catch rate of 5 hours/fish was documented on the Clearwater River below Orofino, South Fork of the Clearwater River, the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam and on the Little Salmon River. Anglers on the North Fork of the Clearwater produced a catch rate of 7 hours/fish.

Early in the week, river flows were low to average with clear water clarity. Through the week, flows increased and water clarity became cloudy due to rain. High flows and muddy water conditions were observed by Sunday afternoon on the South Fork of the Clearwater and the Little Salmon River. For more details go to the Harvest Report- Amanda Schmidt, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Upper Salmon River Steelhead Fishing 3/16/15

Steelhead fishing this past week on the upper Salmon River was relatively slow compared to previous weeks. Warm temperatures and high winds over the weekend resulted in increased river flows and poor visibility downstream of the East Fork. Angler effort remained high with most anglers found either downstream of North Fork in location code 15, near the Ellis area in location code 17, or downstream of Stanley in location code 19. Interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 9 hours per Steelhead caught and 106 hours per Steelhead kept. Upstream, in location code 15 interviewed anglers averaged 20 hours per Steelhead caught and 61 hours per Steelhead kept. In location code 16, upstream of North Fork, interviewed anglers averaged 19 hours per Steelhead caught and 40 hours per Steelhead kept. Upstream of the Lemhi River, in location code 17, interviewed anglers averaged 35 hours per Steelhead caught and 54 hours per Steelhead kept. In location code 18, upstream of the Pahsimeroi River, interviewed anglers averaged 55 hours per Steelhead caught and 83 hours per Steelhead kept. Location code 19, upstream of the East Fork, was the one area where catch rates remained good throughout the weekend. Interviewed anglers in location code 19 averaged 6 hours per Steelhead caught and 10 hours per Steelhead kept. Although flows upstream of the East Fork increased considerably over the weekend, the water visibility remained clear until Sunday afternoon when it began to cloud up.

As previously mentioned, the water conditions on the upper Salmon River are currently not very favorable for Steelhead fishing. The visibility is poor downstream of the East Fork and cloudy upstream. Additionally, flows have steadily increased for the past few days. Currently, the Salmon River in the town of Salmon is flowing at 1,580 cfs which is 142% of average for today’s date, while the Salmon River just downstream of the Yankee Fork is flowing at 1,210 cfs which is 290% of average for today’s date. Along with flows, water temperatures have also increased with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s recorded downstream of Salmon and temperatures in the low 40s recorded upstream of Challis. Water conditions can change rapidly this time of year and given the upcoming week’s forecast, there is a chance that river conditions may improve by this weekend. For an up to date condition report anglers can call the Idaho Fish and Game Salmon Regional office at (208) 756-2271. For harvest details, go to the Harvest Report - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

Clearwater Steelhead Fishing Report 3/13/15

South Fork Clearwater Steelhead 2015

Above average weather temperatures and lots of sunshine made for a beautiful weekend for anglers in the region. Although stream flows were above normal for this time of year, catch rates were fantastic. The best catch rates were documented on the Little Salmon River at 5 hours per fish caught. Anglers also did very well on the South Fork Clearwater over the weekend. Check Harvest Report for more details. - Amanda Schmidt, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Clearwater Steelhead Fishing Report 3/05/15

Above average weather temperatures and lots of sunshine made for a beautiful weekend for anglers in the region. Although stream flows were above normal for this time of year, catch rates were fantastic. The best catch rates were documented on the Little Salmon River at 5 hours per fish caught. Anglers also did very well on the South Fork Clearwater over the weekend. See more details in the Harvest Report. - Amanda Schmidt  Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region