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Spring Steelhead Fishing

With spring Steelhead fishing winding down, anglers can still find opportunities to land a hatchery Clearwater "B". The total number of adult steelhead over Lower Granite Dam in 1999 was 77,000 fish, which is just below the ten-year average of 84,500 fish. The count for the larger hatchery "B" fish, mostly bound for the Clearwater, was down considerably, with only 10,000 counted for 1999. This compares to a ten-year average of 20,000. About 11,000 of the fish counted in 1999 were wild steelhead. Less than 1000 of these were wild "B" fish bound primarily for the Selway, Lochsa, and South Fork and Middle Fork Salmon rivers.

Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River, in spite in the lower return, has and can still be good at times because lower fish numbers also usually mean fewer anglers. Fishing effort in the Orofino area has been very low lately, but a few folks have been catching some fish in the North Fork and main Clearwater around Dworshak hatchery. Fish still are moving into Dworshak Hatchery, which by late March had collected over 2100 fish. Fishing in the South Fork Clearwater River continues to be fair, with most of the action below the Mt. Idaho Bridge. Bucktail jigs, fished just off the bottom below a slip bobber and tipped with shrimp or eggs, are the most popular fishing lure.

With the main Salmon River closing March 31, steelheaders in the Riggins area must concentrate on the Little Salmon River. Early to mid April is usually the prime time in the Little Salmon River. Sammies and corkies, tipped with eggs or shrimp, are the most popular lures.

If you are planning a steelhead fishing trip, a call to a sporting goods store in the area you are going to can provide up to the minute updates. Weekly catch rates from IDFG fish surveys are posted on the Department's web site.