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March 27, 2014

Fish and Game Commission rescinds length restriction on steelhead caught in the Clearwater River

   In the fall of 2013, the Commission approved a restriction on the length of Steelhead (none > 28 inches) that could be harvested in the Clearwater River downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.  This rule was effective for both the fall 2013 and spring 2014 Steelhead seasons.  The length restriction was implemented to protect larger 2-ocean fish that were needed for hatchery brood stock.  Run-size updates at that time indicated a very poor return of 2-ocean Steelhead to the Clearwater River.  A reduction in the limit (daily limit of one fish) was also implemented at that time in all waters in the Clearwater River basin that were open to Steelhead fishing.

   Steelhead spawning is now mostly complete at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, and managers there believe that Steelhead in excess of those needed to meet egg-take objectives are available for harvest.  For this reason, the Commission decided to remove the length restriction on Steelhead in the main stem Clearwater River downstream of Orofino Bridge and the North Fork Clearwater River.  The one fish daily limit still applies.

   This rule went into effect at around 10 a.m. on March 20.  As such, the Steelhead rules for the entire Clearwater River basin (where open) are now:

   A daily limit of one steelhead

   A possession limit of two steelhead

   No length restrictions are in effect in any of the open waters.

   Refer to the Steelhead rules for specific area closures and restriction to steelhead fishing (these have not changed).