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Idaho Fish and Game opens the 2009 steelhead harvest season August 1 on a 2-mile stretch of the river, from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Bridge, also known as the Memorial Bridge in Lewiston. The daily bag limit is two, and the possession limit is six.
Anglers are reminded that this early catch-and-keep opportunity for adipose fin-clipped steelhead does not include the Snake River. The mouth of the Clearwater River is officially recognized as a line from a posted sign on the north bank due south to the western-most point on the south bank. A map showing the boundaries is available on Page 70 of the current Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules booklet.
Since the mid 1990s, federal water managers have been supplementing the lower Clearwater’s naturally warm summertime water with cold water from the depths of Dworshak Reservoir to aid migration of fall Chinook salmon and steelhead through the lower Snake River. This cool water attracts adult steelhead to the lower Clearwater, where they hold up temporarily before swimming to their final destination.
From July 1 through July 23, 2,844 steelhead were counted at Lower Granite Dam. Some of them are now holding in the lower Clearwater, waiting for the Snake River to turn colder before continuing their migration.
"The majority of these early steelhead are bound for the Snake, Salmon, Grande Rhonde, and Imnaha rivers. Most of the steelhead bound for the Clearwater are larger fish that don’t show up until later in September," said Larry Barrett, fisheries biologist for Idaho Fish and Game. "This August fishery is a great opportunity for folks to get out there and catch some very bright and feisty fish."
Fish and Game expects another good steelhead run this year and reminds anglers to look for the clipped adipose fin indicating the fish is legal to be kept. Any steelhead that has an unclipped adipose fin cannot be kept and must immediately be released unharmed.
Other steelhead harvest seasons:
· The Clearwater River mainstem 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 all open to steelhead harvest on October 15. The limits on those waters are two per day and six in possession.
· The Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers open for steelhead harvest on September 1. The limits on those waters are three per day and nine in possession.
· The season limit for the fall 2009 season is 20 fish statewide.
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