The Clearwater River in Idaho will be closed at the end of September to Steelhead fishing, including catch and release. Steelhead are large, ocean-going rainbow trout native to Idaho and the northwest region. Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Friday voted to close all fall Steelhead seasons on the Clearwater River because the number of returning adult hatchery fish is less than the number needed for broodstock and there is no surplus to provide a fishery. The closure is effective at midnight on Sept. 29.
Brian Pearson, Conservation Public Information Specialist of Idaho Fish and Game, said that although the Steelhead fishery will be closed in the Clearwater River basin, there will be no changes to the ongoing fall Chinook season, which is scheduled to close on Oct. 13. In addition, the commission approved a Coho salmon fishery in the Clearwater River basin during their conference call on Sept. 20. This Coho fishery is open effective immediately, and will run concurrent with the fall Chinook fishery, closing Oct. 13, or earlier if catch limits are attained.

The areas of the Idaho rivers that will close to Steelhead as of September 29:

  • Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the confluence of the Middle Fork Clearwater and South Fork Clearwater Rivers.
  • North Fork Clearwater from mouth to Dworshk Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater from mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
  • Middle Fork Clearwater from the mouth to Clear Creek.
  • Snake River from Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers upstream to Couse Creek boat ramp.

    The steelhead fish returns are one of the lowest on record, said Eric Crawford of Trout Unlimited. Crawford said, "Doing nothing is not an option anymore. The status quo does not serve anyone in the long run - not the angler, not the farmer, not the dam or barge operator. Today's announcement just underscores the importance and urgency of moving forward toward creating a plan that works for all."