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~ Clearwater River Fishing Report ~

Another great Salmon and Steelhead season is here! We have a great staff of professional full time guides ready to put you on the fish. Anyone interested in booking a guided trip on the Clearwater River Idaho for can email us or give us a call at:


August Report:

We have started to catch Steelhead and Salmon on the Clearwater! The catch and release season is open for steelhead and the salmon open is just a few weeks away. This is a great time of year to come out and capitalize on the low fishing pressure and highly active fish!

We are lucky enough to have a great regional biologist, Joe Dupont. See his report and forecast below:


We are expecting another exciting year by offering opportunities to harvest fall Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Steelhead this fall.  The seasons are as follows (see attachment for details):

Be aware that if you plan to fish for any of these fish, you need to know how to tell them apart.  Last year we had a couple people who thought they caught the state record Coho that turned out to be a Fall Chinook.  We have put together some diagrams that should help you identify the difference between these fishes if you don’t already know how to tell them apart.  See the following link:


Fall Chinook:



·        Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Memorial Bridge:  Opens on September 1 and closes on October 31 or upon further notice, whichever comes first

·        Snake River from the Idaho Border upstream to Cliff Mountain Rapid (RM 246.7 – about 1 miles below Hells Canyon Dam) : Opens on September 1 and closes on October 31 or upon further notice, whichever comes first

·        Snake River from Cliff Mountain Rapid to Hells Canyon Dam: Opens on September 1 and closes on November 17 or upon further notice, whichever comes first

·        Salmon River from the mouth upstream about ¾ of a mile to Eye of the Needle Rapid


LimitOnly adipose clipped fish may be harvested

·        Adults (> 24 inches):  Daily limit is 6 fish, Possession limit is 18 fish, and there is no season limit

·        Jacks (< 24 inches):  There is not daily, possession or season limit – in others words keep as many as you want as long as they have a clipped adipose fin.


Coho Salmon:


Season:  The following areas will open to Coho fishing on September 1 and close on October 31 or upon further notice, whichever comes first

·        The entire mainstem Clearwater River

·        The Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek

·        The North Fork Clearwater River downstream from the dam


Limit:  Coho Salmon in Idaho are not ESA listed fish and do not have a clipped adipose fin.  As such, it is legal to keep Coho with an adipose fin intact

·        Daily limit is 2 fish

·        Possession limit is 6 fish

·        Season limit is 10 fish


Steelhead:  The steelhead season will be the same as it has been in the past, so I won’t list it here.  If you want details on the Steelhead fishing rules refer to the following link:




Now that you know what the seasons and limits are, I’m sure your next question is, “will the fishing is going to be any good”.  Remember the information I have for you is just a forecasts and as you all know forecasts will be wrong to one degree or another.    


Fall Chinook:  We are projecting another good return of Fall Chinook.  Maybe not another record return like last year, but still very good.  To give you some perspective, last year close to 60,000 adult fall Chinook passed over Lower Granite Dam.  This year we are expecting around 40,000.  That is about double the entire hatchery spring Chinook  run we had return to the Clearwater River this year which was a good year.  Like last year, we are expecting a good number of those older larger fish (> 20 lbs) to return which should make for some excitement.  Unfortunately we were not able to work an agreement with NOAA fisheries that would allow us to harvest some unclipped fish, so you may catch a lot of unclipped fish before you get one that you can harvest.  We are expecting that about one-third of the fall Chinook that pass over Lower Granite Dam this year to have a clipped adipose fin.  The fall Chinook have just started passing over Bonneville Dam and already counts are looking good.  In fact, if you look back at the past 10 years, we’ve only seen one better year.  It is so early in the run right now that a lot can change, but at least we are off to a good start.  Get Ready!


Coho Salmon:  It’s hard to believe we are going to have Idaho’s second Coho season ever – I could get used to this.  Be sure to thank the Nez Perce tribe as they put in a lot time and effort to make this fishery possible.  Right now Coho are the most difficult run for us to predict; largely because the run is so new, and we just don’t have a good idea of what to expect. We saw incredibly good ocean survival for last year’s return, and we just aren’t sure if this is something we can expect in the future. Last year over 18,000 Coho passed over Lower Granite Dam.  The previous high was around 5,000 fish.  This year, the experts (not me) have predicted the run to be somewhere between these two amounts.  This is enough to meet the hatchery brood needs and have fish left over for a fishery.  Right now the fish are just starting to pass over Bonneville Dam, so we really won’t know how strong this run will be for at least another three weeks.  I suspect the first Coho will show up in Idaho around the second week in September.


Steelhead:  I know some of you love this time of year to catch steelhead.  I have to admit, when the fish are in, August is my favorite time to steelhead fish.  Unfortunately we are off to a slow start.  In fact, steelhead counts over Lower Granite Dam for this time of year are the lowest we have seen since 2006.  That doesn’t mean the run is going to be weak this year.  We believe this slow start is largely due to water temperatures.  We suspect many of the fish were holding out in the ocean waiting for temperatures to cool, and those that did enter the Columbia seem to be taking their time getting to Idaho.  It looks like many of the steelhead are holding up in areas with cooler water temperatures.  The preseason forecast is to have a season similar to last year.  Last year around 70,000 Idaho bound hatchery steelhead passed over Lower Granite Dam which is right about average when compared to the last six runs.  Most of these fish will be destined for the Salmon River.  For those of you who like to fish the Clearwater River for those larger “B” run fish,  we are also expecting a similar year to last year.  Last year’s run was about average when compared to the previous five years, but fishing was excellent as it seemed the weather kept the fish moving and catch rates high.   Right now steelhead counts at Bonneville Dam are on the low side, but it wouldn’t surprise me if counts really pick up as water temperatures cool in the Columbia.   This is the time when the first Clearwater River bound steelhead start passing over Bonneville Dam, so we won’t have a feel for what this run really will be like for at least another three weeks.


So there you have it.  It looks like the steelhead run is delayed, but overall we expect good things to come.

Joe DuPont

Clearwater Region Fishery Manager

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

3316 16th Street

Lewiston, Idaho 83501

(208) 799-5010



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~ Clearwater River Fishing Links ~

     Red Shed in Peck is the place to go for anything related to Spey / Fly fishing.

     Camp-Cabin-Home in Lewiston will fill the needs for any gear fishermen. Camp-Cabin-Home has opened a new store in Orofino!!!!!!!! The new store is located right off Highway 12.  

     The entire river is barbless hooks only!!!!

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~ Steelhead Regulations ~ Steelhead Home Page ~

~ Steelhead Harvest Report ~ Steelhead Dam Count ~

~ 7-day Dam Count ~

A quick note on the harvest report... A lot of this data is interpolated. Only a couple of anglers are actually checked and the rest are just counted from the road. The numbers are also based on previous year counts.  

Buy your Fishing License and Steelhead Tag Online

Idaho Fish and Game

Nez Perce Tribe

Dworshak Fish Hatchery

Suggested Clothing List | Clearwater Access Points

    Lodging is available through reputable local area motels. We like and recommend Clearwater Crossing RV Park, Orofino, ID, Lewis-Clark Resort, Kamiah, ID, The Lodge at River's Edge & Helgeson Place Hotel, Orofino, ID and Idaho Sportsman Lodge, Sites, ID.

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RIVER ETIQUETTE:  This is a big SMALL river. When someone does something rude, word travels fast. Some of the stuff that has been going on is just plain common sense. If someone "CORKS" you, take the higher road, say something POLITELY to let them know what they did wasn't cool and continue on with your day. If it is a guide boat, take a picture or write down the boat description, get the outfitter initials off the boat, ask them for their name, and try to get the sticker number. Call the Idaho Outfitters Guides and Licensing Board and report them. If it is a private boat get their boat description and registration number, and spread the word. They will black-list them selves very quickly.

     We are all out here to have fun and catch fish, but not at the expense of other people.

1) Don't Low Hole - If you want to fish a run, either go 150 yards down stream and start or wait for the boat in the run to work their way down.

2) When in Rome do as the Romans - If someone is in a run that you want to fish and they are side-drifting, then side-drift with them - Don't CORK them by starting to back-down plugs. If you want to fish it that bad WAIT for them to move on. 

3) Boat anglers should give Bank anglers (fly fishermen included) their space. But at the same time, Bank anglers don't need to try to lob their gear into a boat to make their point.

4) Do not anchor in the middle of the runs and stay there all day. We all have a right to fish through runs, both guides and private boaters. If you anchor up and are blocking the run, you will only cause tension out on the river. If you want to anchor and eat lunch that is one thing, but staying in the same place all day on anchor while tying up the run is another. A great example of this is at 5-mile, there have been a couple boats that get out there at dark-o-thirty, anchor right in the middle of the run and then wonder why they are catching crap from other boats and not catching many fish. The only exception to this rule is the pipeline outside the hatchery, and if your idea of Steelhead fishing is to sit in town all day at the "pipe" by all means anchor away, you are  missing the big picture of coming to the Clearwater. 

5) Give each other some room. Make an effort to see where bank anglers and boat anglers are fishing and try to avoid running over their water.

Here is a link to Poppy's Etiquette page,

Looking for old reports???? Click Here.

If anyone has suggestions of things they want listed here please email


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Last modified: 02/22/15