What You Need to Know about Steelhead in Clearwater
The best steelhead fishing in the United States can be found on the Clearwater River. The catch-and-release season in September is very popular since the lower water level allows more opportunity for fly fishing. Drift boats can also be used to support fly fishing.
During the catch-and-keep season from October to April, guests prefer to use drift boats and some jet boats when fishing. Guides are also an excellent option when fishing for the magnificent steelhead.
But what is a steelhead exactly? The steelhead is a form of rainbow trout that migrates to the ocean and only returns to the rivers when spawning. There are two types of steelhead: the A-run and the B-run. The A-run are usually found in the Snake and Salmon rivers after one year in the ocean. The B-run normally return to the Clearwater River after spending two years in the ocean. Since they spend more time in the vast ocean, they come back much bigger than the A-run.
The size of the B-run steelhead posts as an attractive catch for Clearwater anglers. However, despite being larger, these fish are usually fewer in number. The average weight of the B-run fish is between 12 to 20 pounds. They normally enter Clearwater in mid-October heading up mainstream from South Fork Clearwater to Middle Form and gathering lastly at Kooskia.
The Clearwater River is wide, shallow and lucid, prime and abundant in steelhead from September through mid November. During these months, a 12-pound steelhead is considered rather small! However, despite being reputably massive in size, steelhead can prove to be difficult to catch.
But here are some pointers that might help you when steelhead fishing in Clearwater:
- You can have direct access to the riverbank to fish along Highway 12.
- There are also a lot of boat ramps.
- There are usually a lot of good fly fishing spots. Employ the services of a fishing guide to find them.
- Bait anglers should use small red cured shrimp or roe.
- Fly anglers should use big, fuzzy leeches.
- Use flies and plugs in the summer and fall.
- Use bobbers and jigs or bait when nearing winter.
- Water temperature is the key. Steelhead returns to the Clearwater River when it is cooler than the Snake River.
- Keeping in mind that temperature is the key; peak season for catching steelhead is September through mid November when the water is cooler. Schedule your fishing trips on these months.