Steelhead Fishing & More: Captain’s Column (2.12.15)
By angelamontana

Posted: February 12, 2015

Steelhead fishing in Idaho has been at the mercy of the rivers stream flow. If the flows are lower than fishing has been above average and if the rivers get blown out then the fishing is not good at all. Toby Walrath who lives in Corvallis and writes for sent me this fishing report as of Tuesday morning and it covers both the Clearwater and Salmon rivers in Idaho.

Water conditions: The Salmon River is not fishable right now due to silt.  The stream flow spiked from 1200 cubic feet per second on February 6, then after the Lemhi River which flows into the Salmon broke open the flow on the Salmon jumped to nearly 2,500 cfs. The flows on the Salmon are dropping though and are now at about 1800 cfs.  If the trend continues to drop over the next few days the fishing will pick up.

The Clearwater River is also experiencing increased flows.  It went from 8,000 cfs on February 6 to 21,000 cfs on the February 8th, but at the time of this report it is dropping slightly.

Walrath’s fishing report: Expect the steelhead fishing to get really good over the next week or so as water levels drop – steelhead always bite better on the drop.  The returns look good this year and mathematically speaking the Clearwater offers the best opportunity to hook a 20 lb steelhead. Steelhead have made it up the south fork already making any location along the road a good one once the water recedes.

Good numbers of steelhead were reported in the Salmon River below Shoup in December, the increase in water flows and temperatures will get them moving and wake them up a little.  The cold temperatures tend to make them lethargic.

How to fish: Anglers were doing well in both rivers pulling plugs, drifting eggs or tossing spinners before the blow out over the weekend.  Bobber dogging and nymphing will catch fish as soon as water levels get back down to manageable levels.

Walrath thinks if anglers give it a week and if water flows go down that the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers will be the place to be to hook some steelhead. As the fishing improves look for his updates on

As you might imagine with the warmer temperatures we have been experiencing, Holter Reservoir now has open from the Gates of the Mountain all the way down river to Oxbow Bend, and the trout fishing has been very good according to Trevor Johnson from Kits Tackle in Helena,”From American Bar (the river mouth) all the way to Willow Creek the trout fishing is on fire for AMAZING rainbow and brown trout action. These water beast are targeting the warmer shallow water to hunt forage. Crayfish and Perch colored jigs with NO bait is your best option here. My personal favorite this time of year is the brown/ornage marabou or the Yellow Perch Glass Minnow. Cast your jig just inches from shore and jig back towards the boat”. Johnson also said that he has heard that the perch fishing has been good in 20 feet of water by Cottonwood Creek on Holter.

(Written by the Captain)