Steelhead fishing on Idaho’s Clearwater River - World class angling
Clearwater River Company LLC

Offers top quality guide services for steelhead from Kooskia to Lewiston Idaho on the Clearwater River.

Licensed Drift Boat Outfitter

Open Dates for the 2014-2015 Steelhead season  Full time professional guides will provide you a quality fishing experience. All equipment is furnished as well as lunches. 

For more information on Clearwater River Company LLC and our drift boat trips contact
Tom Bullock    toll free 1-844-684-0218  email
Trophy Steelhead from the Clearwater River
Idaho's Clearwater River is famous for the large "B-Run" Steelhead that return to the spawning areas after two years in the ocean. Many of these great fighters will weigh 20 lbs. or more

The Clearwater River in Central Idaho is one of the top steelhead streams in the Northwest. This fishery is supported by the worlds largest Steelhead/Salmon Hatchery, located at the confluence of the North Fork and the main stem of the Clearwater near Orofino.

The Clearwater is suited to all styles of fishing - drifting, back trolling, spin fishing or fly fishing - from shore or our comfortable, quiet drift boats.
"Catch and release" Steelhead fishing begins as early as July. The lower Clearwater opens to "catch and keep" fishing in August with the main section opening in October. These early fish tend to be smaller (in the 5 to 10 lb. range) with the larger fish entering the river in late October and November.

More information about Idaho's Clearwater River:

This small river is the major tributary of the Snake River, it's length from the Snake River Confluence to the upper reaches of the Middle Fork and South Fork is approximately 78 miles. It is here that the The larger Middle Fork is made up of the combined flows of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.  The smaller South Fork starts in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to the south.
These tribs are known for their great trout fishing and famous spring time white water rafting opportunities.

In the 1970s Dworshak dam was built on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. This dam was constructed without a fish ladder and essentially cut the large B-run steelhead from most of their historic home waters. To mitigate this loss Dworshak fish hatchery started stocking the main stem Clearwater River and eventually these large fish were also stocked into the Salmon River.

Today, the Clearwater River is still turning out some 20 pound fish but that is about the upper size limit. Before Dworshak the largest of these fish reached the 30 plus pound range. The overall size drop was may be due to early hatchery practices of mixing the A-run fish with the B-run. This no longer happens but there as been no fish noted in the 30 pound class in years this is probably due to the genetic mixing.
There is a naturally propagating population of B-Run steelhead, these unmarked fish are considered "wild" and are not harvested.

The majority of the Clearwater Steelhead fishery takes place from the small town of Kooskia to the confluence at the Snake River. It is this area that most anglers are focused on when they are think Big Steelhead. These fish are famous with anglers coming hundreds if not thousands of miles to visit this river and fish for Idaho B-Run Steelhead.

Generally the water is very clear and relatively shallow. Clearwater steelhead tend to be displaced easily by any disturbance, drift boats are ideally suited for this river as they are extremely quiet.

River flows range from average spring run off highs of up to 60,000 cfs to low water periods of 2500 cfs.  Spring flows can be even more dramatic depending on winter snow packs and the low water episodes can be much lower depending on winter temperatures locking up the up river flows.

Anglers during the fall and winter steelhead season can contend with low water flows that make fishing difficult but not impossible. Even side drifting is possible for the skilled in extremely shallow water. Many anglers prefer this period as there is less fishing pressure to contend with. 

Traditionally back trolling plugs was the usual method of fishing steelhead until other methods started making an arrival into the area. Today boat fishing methods include, side drifting bait, fly fishing, back trolling plugs, floating bobbers with jigs.

Clearwater Steelhead are classified as summer run fish as they enter the Columbia River starting in June. We start seeing some fish by mid July in the Lewis-Clark area.

Fishing begins in earnest by mid October when we are allowed to keep hatchery fish.

Steelhead do not feed after they enter fresh water but the instinct to strike lures and bait items continues. They will utilize their own fat and muscle tissue to survive the winter months and develop eggs and milt for the spawning period in April to May.

The Clearwater also has some very large Mountain White Fish that can weigh as much as 4 to 5 pounds; however, most are in the 1 to 3 pound range.   There is also nice resident trout population that is also attractive for the angler.

For more information on drift boat trips with Clearwater River Company LLC please call or email Tom Bullock
toll free 1-844-684-0218  -

Large winter B-Run Steelhead

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This page authored by Judith Long
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Tom Bullock toll free 1-844-684-0218  -