Idaho Steelhead

gillettehunter

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Just got back from a good trip to Idaho fishing for steelhead. Idaho's Clearwater river has some of the largest steelhead in the lower 48. I try to go at least 2 times a year. A steelhead is much like a salmon in that they spawn in freashwater. The smolt migrate to the ocean and return 1-2 yrs later. Clearwater steelhead usually stay in the ocean 2 years and average 30-36 inches and 10-16 lbs.
We catch most of our fish on the dumbest thing. Beads. 8-14 mm beads. Most shades of orange or pink can catch fish. We use a technique called flossing. Tie a hook to a leader and peg a bead about 3 inches above the hook. Add splitshot and drift below a bobber. When the float goes down you jerk the bead out of the mouth and the hook into the jaw.
Steelhead can be difficult to get to bite. Sometimes only 1 in a 10 hr day of fishing hard. I have been fishing for them yearly since 1987 and usually do pretty good. 3 of us fished Mon thru Fri last week and did pretty well despite a lot of rain. One day it rained basically all day. Only 1 of the 5 days had no rain. The main river rose from 3200 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 23,000... Muddy water. So we fished in the North Fk. About 1 mile of river below Dworshak dam is available to fish. Its good clear water and at times the fish stack up in there.
Only fish with a clipped adipose fin can be kept. The adipose fin is clipped when they are released from the hatchery. Wild and unclipped fish must be released. Decent return this year so you can keep 3 fish a day with 9 in possession and a total of 20 for the spring season. Its a 750 mile trip so we try to keep a good number. After spawning virtually all of them die. As long as the hatchery gets what they need the rest are "excess" and can be kept. These fish are very interesting. They mostly enter the Columbia in Aug/Sept. Their throats swell shut, according to the old timers, and they don't eat. So they have been without food for about 4-6 months.
This trip was pretty good for me. I landed 28 fish in 5 days. I kept my possession limit of 9. The 2 fellows with me got 11. We brought home 17 fish. I'll add a couple of pics. Bruce
steelhead 2016 010.jpg
steelhead 2016 014.jpg
steelhead 2016 016.jpg
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Well done Bruce, green with envy I am!
 

CAustin

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Couple of great looking fish! Did you cook them up that night?
 

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gillettehunter

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We didn't cook them that night. Facilities at the motel were limited in that aspect. I Just finished smoking some up. Awfully good that way. Will do some up on the BBQ soon. Bruce
 

Sand Rat

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Great looking fish, I have a sister that lives on the Klickitat river off the Columbia in Washington. One of these days I need to pay her a visit for a little fishing.
 

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