IDFG Cuts Clearwater
by Eric Barker
Anglers will only be allowed to keep one hatchery steelhead when catch-and-kill season opens Oct. 15
The Clearwater River and its tributaries will have a one-fish bag limit for hatchery steelhead when the catch-and-keep season opens Oct. 15, and a one-fish bag limit already in place on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers has been extended to Dec. 31.
The normal bag limit for the rivers is three hatchery steelhead per day.
Sharon Kiefer, deputy director of programs and policy for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, approved a recommendation from the agency's Clearwater Region and the Boise-based fisheries bureau to reduce the bag limit. The move was taken to ensure enough hatchery steelhead escape fisheries and return to hatcheries for spawning. The reduced bag limit also will help protect naturally spawning steelhead, according to the order Kiefer signed Friday.
Fisheries managers are expecting a second consecutive poor steelhead run this fall. The latest forecast calls for a total of 52,910 steelhead to return at least as far as Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. That pales compared to the 10-year average of about 150,000.
The forecasted return includes 34,750 A-run steelhead, which tend to spend just one year in the ocean and return to the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers, and 16,310 B-run steelhead, which return to the Clearwater River and its tributaries and to some tributaries of the Salmon River.
Anglers saw reduced bag limits last year and restrictions on keeping larger B-run steelhead when the steelhead run tanked compared to forecasts from fisheries biologists. They had hoped this year's run would be better, but based on the new forecasts and fish counts at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, the run is expected to be even lower this year.
That is largely based on the failure of A-run steelhead to show up. Prior to the season, fisheries managers expected about 158,000 A-run fish to return above Bonneville Dam. The latest count calls for only 69,500, about 43 percent of the preseason expectation.
The B-run appears to be falling just short of the preseason forecast of 24,400 at Bonneville Dam. According to an update issued earlier this week, a total of 23,300 are expected to make to Bonneville Dam, and about 70 percent of those are expected to make it as far as Lower Granite Dam.
Steelhead A-run Still Missing in Action by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 8/31/18
Poor Steelhead Returns will Likely Impact Small Towns that Bank on Anglers by Eric Barker, Coeur d'Alene Press, 9/6/18
Steelhead Fishing Closed on Large Section of Columbia River by Eric Barker, Coeur d'Alene Press, 9/6/18
States Slash Steelhead Bag Limits by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 9/2/18
States Close Columbia River to Steelhead Retention by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 8/30/18
Down to a Trickle; Steelhead Numbers Continue Descent by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 8/31/18
Oregon Closes Steelhead Sanctuary Off Mouth of Deschutes to All Fishing by Bill Monroe, The Oregonian, 8/8/18
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs