Steelhead Fishing Blog

Steelhead Coming to Boise River

For people living in Idaho's most populous areas, a quest for steelhead means traveling for several hours to the Salmon, Clearwater or Snake Rivers. When times are good, and there is a surplus of steelhead, anglers in Idaho's biggest city have steelhead delivered courtesy of Fish and Game tanker trucks.

On Thursday November 6, Fish and Game trucks will haul around 300 steelhead to Boise from Hells Canyon. These fish are part of a program funded by Idaho Power that compensates for steelhead lost in the Boise River drainage due to the Hells Canyon Hydroelectric Project.

Fisheries managers will release the steelhead into the Boise River at several traditional locations between Glenwood Bridge and Barber Park. Anglers planning to harvest steelhead must have a valid fishing license and steelhead permit. Any steelhead (defined as a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin) harvested on the Boise River must be recorded on the angler’s steelhead permit. The steelhead limit on the Boise River is three per day and nine in possession. Barbless hooks are not required on the Boise River.

Steelhead Fishing on the Salmon River 10/19/14

This week, we have shifted away from reporting data only from the weekend to reporting creel data from the entire previous week (Monday-Sunday). This week's report covers the time period of 10/13/14 through 10/19/14.

Steelhead fishing on the upper Salmon River picked up during the previous week as more fish, and anglers, began showing up in the region. From Monday the 13th through Sunday the 19th, interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, averaged 11 hours per steelhead caught and 85 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream, in location code 15, interviewed anglers averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught and 48 hours per steelhead kept. Between the Lemhi River and North Fork, in location code 16, interviewed anglers averaged 15 hours per steelhead caught and 38 hours per steelhead kept. Angler effort was the lightest upstream of the Lemhi River in location code 17, but interviewed anglers were able to find some steelhead and averaged 16 hours per steelhead caught or kept. For more details, go to the Harvest Report.

As of Monday, October 20th, the Salmon River was flowing at 1,160 cfs through the town of Salmon with water temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

Weekend Steelhead Creel Survey 10/14/14

Most anglers in the Clearwater Region concentrated their effort on the Snake River downstream from the Salmon River (River sect 01) and on the Clearwater River up to Orofino Bridge (River sect. 03.)  For the few anglers fishing on the North Fork (River sect. 05) this past weekend, they used shrimp, scent, and roe for bait. A few anglers were using the wiggle wart lure. Go to Harvest Report for more details. - Jaime Robertson,  Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Steelhead on Snake River, downriver of Salmon River, 2014

Steelhead and Chinook Report in Cleawater 10/13/14

Anglers are spreading out to fish in the Clearwater region. 185 anglers were checked this past weekend on the Salmon and Little Salmon River. 60 steelhead were caught over the weekend with just under 19/hr catch rates on the Salmon and Little Salmon River.

Of the 178 anglers that were checked on river section 01 of the Snake River this past weekend 91 came out at Heller Bar. These anglers fished a total of 746 hours with 28 hatchery steelhead kept and 48 wild released. No hatchery steelhead were released. Catch rates were 10hrs. 74 of the steelhead anglers that were checked at Heller bar were on guided trips. Please keep in mind that these numbers are for Idaho steelhead anglers only and are unexpanded numbers.

Anglers that are fishing above Memorial Bridge on the Clearwater (river sect 03) are using a variety of lures. Some of the lures were Purple Peril, Black Fly, Lady Caroline Skunk, black & blue Table Fly, Skater Fly, Green butted Skunk, Gold Hair Wing, purple & black fly, Orange Hair Wing, and Rust Colored Fly. Anglers are also using yarn with scent and eggs.  - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Clearwater Region Fall 2014

Steelhead in the Upper Salmon 10/12/14

This past weekend a weather front that made its way through the area hindered steelhead anglers with precipitation and strong winds, but anglers were still able to find some steelhead. Interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, had the best success with an average catch rate of 16 hours per steelhead and a harvest rate of 140 hours per steelhead. The majority of angler effort was located in location code 15, between North Fork and the Middle Fork. Interviewed anglers there averaged 44 hours per steelhead caught and 400 hours per steelhead kept. Between the Lemhi River and North Fork, in location code 16, interviewed anglers averaged 48 hours per steelhead caught and 190 hours per steelhead kept.  Angler effort in location code 17, upstream of the Lemhi River, was once again minimal and no steelhead were reported caught. For more details check out the Harvest Report. 

The Salmon River is currently running near 1,200 cfs through the town of Salmon with good visibility. The water temperature has been in the low 50s for the past couple of weeks, but with colder weather moving in it should begin to drop into the 40s.  - Brent Beller,  Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

Update on Steelhead Bound for Clearwater River 10/7/14

Hi everybody. I thought I would give you a quick update on the Clearwater River Steelhead fishery just in case you were trying to decide if you wanted to fish the Steelhead harvest opener starting October 15. As of today (10/7/14), over 9,000 hatchery Steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (based on detected PIT tags) that are destined for the Clearwater River. This is about triple of what we saw last year at this same time and 30% more than we saw 2 years ago.  It’s not quite what we had in 2010 and 2011 when around 13,000 fish had passed over Lower Granite Dam by this same time, but that is certainly enough to provide some good fishing.  The numbers of fish passing over Lower Granite Dam and bound for the Clearwater River really picked up the last 5 days, and these fish should start moving into the Clearwater anytime now.  One of the exciting things about the run this year is the vast majority of them are the larger 2-ocean fish unlike last year when many were the smaller 1-ocean fish.  To date, over 25,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery Steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam, so there are still a lot on their way. This means there will be no need to for emergency rules like we implemented last year to protect brood stock.  In case you were wondering, the Steelhead rules can be viewed using this link (

So there you have it.  Yet another great outdoor activity to do in October. Now you just have decide what to do…..Salmon, Steelhead, Sturgeon, Deer, Elk, upland game birds.  October is such a great time in the Clearwater Region.  - Joe Dupont, Fisheries Manager, Clearwater Region

Upper Salmon River Weekend Report 10/05/14

The fish are here. Creel clerks began interviewing steelhead anglers on the upper Salmon River this past Thursday, October 2nd, and a harvested steelhead was found that same day. This is quite different from last year when a kept steelhead was not found until mid-October.

Fishing over the weekend was slow, but steelhead were caught in multiple areas. Angler effort was heaviest downstream of North Fork in location codes 14 and 15, but there were numerous anglers found upstream in location code 16 as well. No interviewed anglers in location code 14, downstream of the Middle Fork, reported catching any steelhead over the weekend. In location code 15, interviewed anglers kept one steelhead and released another four while fishing for 198 hours. This resulted in catch rates of  40 hours per steelhead caught and 198 hours per steelhead kept. Upstream in location code 16, anglers fished for 122 hours and kept 3 steelhead which produced a harvest rate of 41 hours per steelhead kept. Few anglers were observed upstream of the Lemhi River in location code 17, and those anglers that were interviewed did not report catching any steelhead. Check harvest data for more details.  - Brent Beller, Fisheries Technician, Salmon Region

Snake and Clearwater Steelhead Creel Survey 10/5/14

Fishing on river section 01 (downstream from Salmon River) was really good this past weekend with 7 hours to catch a steelhead. We have documented anglers on the Salmon River around Pine Bar and further up river on river section 11 and 12 (Whitebird Creek to Vinegar Creek.) However, there was very little fish caught over the weekend on this section.  Check harvest data for more details. - Jaime Robertson, Fisheries Technician,Clearwater Region

Clearwater Region Steelhead Fishery 9/16/14

Hi everybody, I have been getting bombarded with questions regarding Steelhead and Fall Chinook Salmon runs, so I figured it is about time I give you all an update.  I have been holding off until I had enough information to give you something meaningful. So here you go.

For steelhead there are typically two different runs of fish destined for Idaho that people are interested in. One is the earlier arriving Steelhead that are typically dominated by one-ocean fish and are mainly destined for the Salmon River, the Grand Ronde River, and Hells Canyon Dam. This run of steelhead is commonly referred to as the “A” run. The other is the later arriving fish that is typically dominated by larger two-ocean fish and are predominately destined for the Clearwater River basin.  This run of steelhead is commonly referred to as the “B” run.

By this time of year, typically over 90% of the A run destined for Idaho has passed over Bonneville Dam so we pretty much know what we are going to get. When we look at the number of PIT tagged steelhead destined for Idaho we estimate around 70,000 A run steelhead will pass over Lower Granite Dam. This number will vary some based on what survival is between Bonneville Dam and Lower Granite Dam.  This is very similar to what we saw the last two years.

For the B run of steelhead destined for Idaho, typically by this time anywhere from 45 to 60 percent of the run has passed over Bonneville Dam. As such, there is some uncertainty on what is yet to come. However, if the trend holds, it looks like we could get about twice as many fish this year as we saw last year.  Again this is dependent on how the run holds out at the survival we see between Bonneville Dam and Lower Granite Dam. The graph below shows how this year’s projected B run compares to previous years.  Many have asked me whether we would be implementing restrictive regulations for steelhead on the Clearwater River this year.  I can tell you that if the run holds true to our projection, no changes to the rules will be necessary.

To date 22,000 steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (since June 1), and over the previous three days at least 1,300 steelhead a day have been passing over the dam. Fishing has been fairly slow (> 20 hrs/fish) in the Snake River and Clearwater River downstream of Memorial Bridge where fish can be harvested.  But expect these catch rates to improve as more fish move into Idaho. Steelhead fishing in the catch-and-release area of the Clearwater River (upstream of Memorial Bridge) has been fairly good with catch rates around 5 to 6 hours a fish.  One interesting this about this year’s A run is that over half the fish that have passed over Lower Granite Dam are two-ocean fish (9-13 lbs). So, although the catch rates haven’t been all that great, people have been pleased with the size of the fish they are catching. Now that the B run is just starting to reach Idaho, the size of the fish should just get bigger.

Here's information on the Clearwater Region's Fall Chinook salmon fishery.   - Joe Dupont, Fisheries Manager, Clearwater Region