Why do A-run steelhead fish enter the Clearwater River system?
A-run steelhead fish find refuge by removing themselves from the warm summer waters of the Snake River system. They find conditions more pleasant in the Clearwater section up to 10 miles above the confluence of the Snake with the cooler water and oxygen levels behind riffles. As the Snake begins to cool they return to their traditional spawning areas on Idaho’s Salmon River and Oregon’s Wallowa River Systems.
Fifteen to 20 percent of all Idaho steelhead are wild fish.
According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game 90% of all anglers surveyed would prefer to keep their catch and enjoy the fine table fare these fish provide.
The throat of a Steelhead trout begins to swells shut as it enters fresh water. It survives from the fat reserve acquired by gorging itself while out to sea. Even though they can be tricked, irritated or tempted to take a presentation in fresh water they tend to only mouth the bait or fly. After spawning they will attempt to return to feed in salt water. However, after crossing nine dams, using their fat reserve to replenish the system with smelt, their attempt to return is more of a death penalty than a reality.
Idaho’s fishery program has been a phenomenal success by providing 2.15 million smolt steelhead from the 20,000 hatchery fish, including the wild populations that are still able to reproduce in Idaho’s tributaries. The hatcheries on the Clearwater River system are also restoring the Chinook Salmon and Coho populations and should be commended for their efforts.
The upper Clearwater River portion from Orofino to Kamiah provides a warm clear water situation that the small mouth bass have learned to love. Steelhead Mania’s Riverside Guide Service has a blast taking clients on this little-known fishery. If you like to fish for ‘smallies’, we will put you on the fish.