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The steelhead season has been open downstream of the bridge since August 1, and the river upstream of the bridge has been open only to catch-and-release fishing since July 1. The Clearwater River sections open to steelhead harvest will include the mainstem upstream of Memorial Bridge to Clear Creek; the South Fork from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red rivers; the North Fork from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
The fall seasons run through December 31.
The steelhead season also is under way on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.
So far this year, from June 1 through October 9, more than 206,000 steelhead have crossed Lower Granite Dam, the last of eight federal dams they must cross on their way back to Idaho. Of those fish, 47,904 are wild fish that must be released unharmed if caught.
Last year by this time, about 130,458 fish had crossed Lower Granite, 32,285 of them wild fish. The 10-year average for this date is about 100,000 steelhead.
Fishery managers estimate the return of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam this fall will be considerably larger than the previous high return of about 250,000 fish in 2001. But most of this large return are more than 155,000 A-run hatchery fish destined for the Snake, Little Salmon and Salmon river – not the Clearwater.
The steelhead limit on the Clearwater is two fish per day, six in possession and 20 for the season.
Elsewhere, the limit is five steelhead per day, of which no more than three may be 32 or more inches in total length. The possession limit is 15, no more than nine may be 32 or more inches long. The statewide limits in the fall and spring seasons is 40 steelhead in each, but no more than 20 of those may be caught in the Clearwater River drainage in each season.
Once daily, possession and season limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.
Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit. They must stop fishing when the possession limit is reached – even catch-and-release. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.
Open waters for steelhead are:
· Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to Clear Creek. Fishing is prohibited between posted boundaries about 100 yards upstream and downstream from the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery Ladder and extending into the river channel about 50 yards. Fishing from the shoreline or wading along the perimeter of Dworshak National Fish Hatchery is prohibited. Fishing from motorized watercraft is prohibited from the Clearwater River Bridge at Orofino upstream to the mouth of Clear Creek from September 15 through April 30.
· North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam. Fishing from the shoreline or wading along the perimeter of Dworshak National Fish Hatchery is prohibited. Fishing from any watercraft or wading is prohibited between the posted line about 150 yards upstream from the mouth of the North Fork Clearwater River and the Ahsahka Highway 7 Bridge, and when fishing from that bridge, it is unlawful to take any fish downstream of the railroad bridge. Fishing from the railroad bridge is prohibited.
· South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
· Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
· Little Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
· Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.
In the boundary waters on the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon or Washington, an angler with a valid 2009 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit may fish where the river forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon or Washington, but may not fish from the shoreline, including wading, and may not fish in sloughs or tributaries on the Oregon or Washington side. An angler may have only the limit allowed by one license regardless of the number of licenses the angler holds.
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