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Steelhead

Steelhead trout (pictured) and Chinook salmon numbers have tumbled in the past few years, due in large part to warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has decided to reopen steelhead fishing in the Clearwater River and lower Snake River downstream of Couse Creek Boat Ramp, beginning on Jan. 1. Daily bag limit in those sections is limited to one adipose-clipped steelhead per day, none over 28 inches in length.

Anglers should note that the North Fork Clearwater River will be closed to steelhead fishing during the 2020 spring season. The South Fork of the Clearwater River will also reopen on Jan. 1, and all other season dates remain the same as what is printed 2019-21 Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure.

For a summary of modifications that have been made to the 2019-21 printed steelhead seasons and rules, specific to the 2020 spring season, visit Idaho Fish and Game’s Steelhead Seasons and Rules Page.

The commission had previously closed steelhead fishing entirely on the Clearwater River in September, as well as the Snake River below Couse Creek. The closure came amid concerns that returns of hatchery steelhead would not be sufficient to meet broodstock needs for the Clearwater hatcheries.

Fisheries managers were waiting to see if enough steelhead would return to replenish hatcheries before proposing to the commission to resume steelhead fishing for the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers.

After an additional month of trapping steelhead for the Clearwater River hatchery programs, fisheries managers were confident there are enough steelhead for hatcheries and to provide steelhead fishing opportunities. Fisheries managers also plan to continue enlisting anglers to help provide steelhead broodstock on the South Fork of the Clearwater in the spring.

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