Fishing Reports and conditions for Idaho's Clearwater River and
Washington's Snake River Basin Steelhead - Catfish - Bass - Sturgeon
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Spring forcast for Clearwater River Steelhead

For all you folks from Montana and Southern Idaho, the Clearwater is looking good for some spring Steelhead  fishing. At this time Steelhead retention is not allowed and it is doubtful that there will be enough fish to allow it. Generally fishing has been good to excellent. Those of you who want to get some early spring fishing in should make the trip soon. The water is good and our weather conditions have been pretty mild.


Guides are still having good days on the Clearwater.
For those willing to have a fun day you can expect catching fish. Several Guides are talking about routine double digit days. The fish are in good shape and have been willing to fight.

We have also heard of consistently good catches in Hells Canyon so for those of you who want to harvest fish - contact an Outfitter who is licensed upriver.and make a day out of it while the fish are still good eating.

Clearwater River fishing is very good! I have had contacts from several guides fishing the Clearwater in the past week and the all say fishing has been exceptional.

For all you people out there that are forgoing buying a guided trip on The Clearwater River now would be a good time because I doubt there will ever be another year with this kind of fishing opportunity. Most of our locals are turned off by the fact that they cannot kill every hatchery fish and are for the most part staying home.

Same thing with a lot of anglers who just want to harvest fish so that leaves the river quiet, uncrowded and no one is pulling all the biters out!.

Consider this an experience of what this river was about in 2000 when we started outfitting on the Clearwater River.
A couple of years during that time frame were low fish numbers and we fished all day catching and tossing fish back just for the fun of it and our numbers boats messing up runs. No crowded launches...just a real fishing experience....and if you don't find one of those 28 inch keepers go to Costco and buy a fish or whatever but have  an experience you probably never be able to ever have again.  For most of you, I would  advise  hiring a guide as you will  probably catch a lot more fish!  This river just doesn't give up fish easily and professionals know what and how to get fish to bite.


Snake River is continuing to turn out fair numbers of fish. This last week the area above the Grande Ronde  was averaging about 10 fish to the boat or so say my good contacts. If you have the skills and the river knowledge you should do well. Fresh bait is essential! Shrimp and roe are still the go to baits.
Right now the Snake River is still in the mid 40s temperature wise which suggest that these fish are no where near settling down for the winter. You will be looking for traveling fish.

The Clearwater River is clear with temps in the 45-46 degrees. Again these fish will be moving out of the reservoir with every rain shower until the water temps drop into the mid to lower 30s. Quite frankly fishing is pretty good on this river...keepers are scarce but there are enough fish to provide a great catch and release fishery.  Don't let the lack of fish to take home stop you from having a great time on the river.

Read how to cure Steelhead eggs......Photos show how and basic recipe!


Pat took me fishing on the Grande Ronde this morning!
We took the drive from Clarkston to the Ronde arriving after about 8:30 this morning. The weather is  wonderful late fall we enjoy so much. Daytime temps were in the low to mid 40's. Just right for a little fishing.

The Ronde is beautiful, clear and the flows were excellent for any method of fishing. Not a lot of pressure after we got away from Cottonwood Creek. We encountered a couple of drifters out tossing flies.  For the relative short time we actually spent fishing we did pretty good. Two wild steelhead and two beautiful hold over trout/steelhead about 14 inches. Each was released back without harm. I have the feeling that there are not a lot of steelhead in the area we were fishing.- above Bogans to the Oregon boarder...In the past we generally saw a marked increase in fish numbers around Thanksgiving and expect that will hold true this year.

We did see one angler that was flyfishing get into a fish just downstream from where Pat caught one wild buck.  Everyone appeared to be enjoying their time on the river.

Typical report for this time of year.

I'm been hearing that the Clearwater is really low so I looked back to check out previous years flows and I have determined that the current water levels are not really abnormally low.  I personally have drift fished at 2500- 3000 feet and most of us who have a lot experience have been quite successful in this lower water.
It just takes someone who is very good on the tiller and has an extensive knowledge of the river bottom that they are fishing over. Granted the drifts are shorter and there is less room for error but  usually your rate of catch is excellent due to fewer people on the river.

One of our friends just spent 3 days drifing the Clearwater and they boated 32 fish. This demonstrates that the current water level of 3160 should not present any real problems with any method of fishing.

I am sure that anyone out there enjoying the beautiful fall weather can come up with some fishing fun. Just don't run over the fish holding water and all will be well. Read our article on steelhead tips

I also recommend that you try to use methods of fishing where there is less chance for the fish to take the bait deeply. We do not have much in the way of reserve so be as careful with the fish as you can.

The only difference between what we have now and what we have seen in the past few years has been no rain yet..which we generally see about the end of the third week in October. I'm wondering just what will happen if we see some of those winter flows where there is dramatic shutdown in the upper river with no rain and freezing, that could get interesting and really low.

Typical report for this time of year.

Both the Snake River and the Clearwater Rivers are teasing anglers with good days and then some really tough days. This is usual during this time of year and if  or when we start getting a bit of rain things should stabilize.

If you are on the Clearwater those good days are providing some nice catch and release with the larger B-run fish coming to the boat.  I haven't heard of many keepers (those hatchery fish 28 inches and under) being harvested but with only about 1300 available that is not surprising.

The Snake has been tough for several days but it seems to be improving with better catch rates. We need some rain  for all the rivers to be optimum. If you are going out, expect  to fish hard and be prepared to try new things.

Fewer fish means it will be harder finding willing biters  and those prized fin clipped steelhead.

Bad news for the Clearwater River Fishery. Please read as rules and limits have changed
Information taken from Idaho Fish and Game website.

Idaho Fish and Game has reduced bag and possession limits on steelhead harvested in part of the Clearwater River drainage during the fall and spring seasons.

The change takes effect when the fall steelhead harvest season opens Tuesday October 15 in the Clearwater River drainage.

The limits for the fall season and the spring 2014 season are one fish per day and two in possession. In addition, in the North Fork Clearwater River and the mainstem Clearwater River downstream of the Orofino bridge only steelhead 28 inches or less in total length may be kept.

The overall return of steelhead to the Clearwater River drainage is less than forecast and numbers of large steelhead in the 2013-2014 return to the Dworshak Hatchery are lower than anticipated, and the fishery must be constrained to facilitate the hatchery meeting its broodstock goal.

The harvest seasons opens October 15 on the main stem of the Clearwater River above the Memorial Bridge, the South Fork Clearwater River, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam, and the Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek.

The steelhead harvest season that opened August 1, on a two-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston, will switch to the reduced limits and size restriction on October 15.

The harvest season already is open on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The limits on these waters have not changed.

For additional information please consult the 2013 fishing rules and seasons brochure, available at all license vendors, Fish and Game offices and online at:

For indepth information read The Spokesman Revew.

For intown fishermen you might try the old Clarkston beach area for catfish for a while in the evening. You might get lucky and the park is a nice change from rocks and dirt.

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This page was last updated: February 26, 2014
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