Steelhead report from the Clearwater
By Hookemharry

Posted: February 14, 2005

I ran into a fisherman the other day and he said that fishing for steelhead had been excellent down on the Clearwater River in Orofino Idaho.

That’s some exciting news for people in Western Montana. So I decided it might be a good time to make some phone calls and find out what is going on.

My first contact was Snake River Guide Service (509-751-0410). Pat Long, the owner along with his wife, said fishing has been above average.

“On the good days we are catching 6-10 fish per boat,” said Long. “Most fish are running 14-15 pounds. Occasionally, we will hook into an 18-19 pound steelhead.”

The catch rate for Long’s clients has been about 50 percent wild fish vs. hatchery fish. They have been drifting row and primarily fishing between Lewiston and Lenor Idaho. The flow on the Clearwater River is about 6000 cubic feet per second, not bad for this time of the year according to Long.

If you want to stay a little closer to Orofino, then maybe the report I received from the Guide Shop and Clearwater Drifters (208-476-3531) might interest you. Evelyn Kaide, one of the owners had this to say.

“We are picking fish up everyday. In fact, we just had a half-a-day boat come in and they hooked 6 fish,” she said. They are side drifting eggs or backtrolling a jet diver with shrimp.

Kaide says they fish mostly around the Orofino area. but they will go as far down as Lenor. It all depends on where the fish seem to be.

“Shore fishing has also been good on the North Fork right below Dworshak Dam,” added Kaide, for those anglers not able to drift the river themselves or hire a guide service.

Anglers have been using a bobber and a jig for the best results. Just make the long cast, then let your set-up drift. Watch for the slip-bobber to go down and set the hook.

Jarrett’s Guide Service (208-476-7244), also in Orofino, offers similar information on the fishing on their Web site. The update on 2/20/05 says they did do quite well this week.

One father-son duo had two great days, according to the site’s fishing report. In a two-day period, they ended up hooking 25 steelhead. That’s not bad for any fishing, but is excellent for steelhead.

If you are interested in hiring a guide to take you out for a day fishing for steelhead, expect to pay at least $150 per person plus tax. The per person price varies with each outfitter depending on how many people are in your fishing party.

Of course, if you have your own boat or just want to shore fish, then make sure you have the right equipment and proper fishing license before you head out.