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Ecology and salmon related articles

Casting a Spell

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, March 11, 2004

Clearwater River drainage lures steelheading hopefuls

Steelhead fishing has been hot in the Clearwater River Valley and on the South Fork of the Clearwater River.

Last week, anglers averaged six hours of fishing for each fish caught on the upper Clearwater, where most of the fishing concentrates around Kooskia and the mouth of Clear Creek.

On the South Fork of the Clearwater, anglers had to fish an average of seven hours to land a steelhead. Fishing on both rivers should remain good as long as river conditions hold up, according to Larry Barrett of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston.

Barrett says anglers on the South Fork are catching a lot "stubbies" -- hatchery fish that have not had their adipose fins clipped. Stubbies are part of Nez Perce tribal fisheries program to increase the number of steelhead that spawn in the wild. They cannot, by law, be kept when caught.

Barrett said anglers are averaging three nonadipose fin-clipped fish for every fin-clipped fish they catch. The ratio is expected to grow even more in favor of the stubbies as the season wears on and more and more of the clipped fish are removed.

"The fishing is outstanding if a person has the mind set, if you catch a fish that has an adipose fin it's not going to ruin your day." Barrett said.

The river was running moderately murky Wednesday and weather conditions will determine how fishable the water is from day to day.

The main Salmon River between Hammer Creek and Riggins also has been a hot spot of late. According to department surveys, anglers there averaged eight hours of fishing for each steelhead caught. Fishing on the Little Salmon River was considerably slower, where anglers had to fish an average of 68 hours to catch a steelhead. However, fishing on the Little Salmon should heat up in the next few weeks, according to Barrett.

Eric Barker
Casting a Spell
Lewiston Tribune, March 11, 2004

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