Press Release

F&G Commission reduces bag limits for Clearwater River and tributaries

Reductions will be in effect when many sections open for harvest on Oct. 15

Idaho Fish and Game Commission reduced the bag limit for steelhead in sections of the Clearwater River to one fish per day and three in possession in response to low steelhead returns, which means all Idaho rivers open to steelhead harvest will have a bag limit of one fish per day and three in possession. 

Adjustments were made to these sections, which except for the North Fork of the Clearwater, will open for harvest of hatchery steelhead on Oct. 15: 

  • Clearwater River - Lower (Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge)
  • Clearwater River - Upper (Orofino bridge to Confluence of South Fork and Middle Fork of the  Clearwater rivers) 
  • North Fork Clearwater River - (Mouth to Dworshak Dam) Note: Reduced bag limit takes effect Oct. 15.
  • Middle Fork Clearwater River - (Mouth to Clear Creek) 
  • South Fork Clearwater River 

Fish and Game biologists estimate that 35,000 to 40,000 steelhead will return to Lower Granite Dam, which is the last of four Snake River dams the fish cross before reaching Idaho. About 59,000 crossed last year, and the 10-year average is about 100,000 annually.  

“We anticipated this year’s poor steelhead return and have been working with our Tribal and State Fishery Managers to implement conservative fisheries throughout the Columbia River,”  Fisheries Bureau Chief Lance Hebdon said. 

Clearwater River hatchery steelhead returns are made up of steelhead that spend one to three years in the ocean with females being predominantly two and three ocean fish. 

"We focus our evaluation of broodstock availability for hatchery returns on those females,” Hebdon said. “Our current forecast of Clearwater River female steelhead returning to trapping locations is sufficient to meet broodstock and provide some steelhead for harvest. “ 

Reducing the bag limit is a way to provide fishing opportunity while ensuring adequate hatchery returns. 

“In past seasons with similar run sizes, implementing reduced daily bag and possession limits have resulted in lower angler effort and reduced harvest, which has enabled us to meet hatchery broodstock goals,” Hebdon said. 

In September, the Commission also reduced the bag limit for steelhead anglers to one fish per day and three in possession in the following river sections. 

  • Salmon River from its mouth to 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Weir. 
  • 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.
  • Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam to Oxbow Dam.
  • Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the Memorial Bridge of U.S. Highway 12 at Lewiston.