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March 13, 2014

Steelhead anglers find success, conditions challenging

   Spring is the time when hatchery steelhead concentrate in smaller rivers, making it a great time to fish. This year has been no exception. 

   Steelhead fishing is unique, considering it is very good anytime catch rates are lower than 20 hours per fish caught.

   Recent angler surveys show catch rates vary significantly, ranging from seven hours per fish on the upper Salmon River from the Middle Fork Salmon River upstream to North Fork, to well over 100 hours per fish in other river sections. For the latest steelhead catch rates by river section, visit the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=126.
   With the recent rain, snowmelt and shore ice, fishing conditions along the upper
Salmon River have been challenging, yet anglers continue to find success. 

   Anglers between Salmon and North Fork will find extensive shore ice, but all the boat ramps are open, with the exception of the 4th of July Access Site. Below North Fork, anglers can expect mud slides, rock falls and water across the road. Anglers are advised to use caution when driving and deciding where to park. The ice jam at Deadwater has broken free, causing a few days of muddy water conditions downstream, but visibility is improving. Rain is forecasted for the next few days, which may prolong reduced water visibility. Water conditions are expected to improve heading into the upcoming weekend. 

   Anglers anxious to access and fish for steelhead in the Upper Salmon River find a way, as reported in a recent video on the Idaho Fish and Games YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/SWeKlfuKVHE.

   The spring harvest season closes March 31 on the Salmon River from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek - three-quarters of a mile upstream from the Middle Fork Salmon River. Anglers can continue fishing through April 30 in most other steelhead waters, except the Little Salmon River, which stay open until May 15, and the Snake and Boise rivers, which stay open until May 31.

   Other open waters include:

   Clearwater River Mainstem and Middle Fork from its mouth upstream to Clear Creek.

   North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam. 

   South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.

   Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir near Stanley. Except the reach from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, which closes March 31. 

   The steelhead limits for the spring 2014 season on the Snake, Boise, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers are three per day and nine in possession. The limits in the Clearwater drainage are one fish per day and two in possession. In addition, only steelhead 28 inches or less in total length may be kept in the North Fork Clearwater River and the Clearwater River downstream of the Orofino Bridge

   A valid 2014 fishing license and steelhead permit is required to fish for steelhead. The statewide limit for the spring season is 20. Once the limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.

   Anglers are reminded to consult the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, license vendors or regional offices for changes to rules published in the 2013-2015 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure.