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F&G receives federal steelhead permit and fishing continues

Idaho Fish and Game on March 15 received federal reauthorization for its steelhead fishing season, so fishing will continue uninterrupted, and the two areas currently closed will reopen immediately.

Steelhead fishing resumes in the following locations:

The Main Salmon River between Warren Creek and the Copper Mine Boat Ramp.
South Fork of Clearwater River upstream of the Mount Idaho Grade Bridge.

Per Fish and Game director’s order, bag limits for steelhead anglers will remain as follows:

One steelhead daily in the Mainstem Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, Salmon, and Little Salmon rivers, and the Snake River from the Washington state line upstream to the Dug Bar Boat Ramp.
Two steelhead daily in the South Fork Clearwater River and Snake River from the Dug Bar Boat Ramp to Hells Canyon Dam.
Only hatchery steelhead may be kept if the adipose fin has been clipped as evidenced by a healed scar.

The federal agency that authorizes Idaho’s steelhead fishing, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had up until the fall of 2018 allowed Fish and Game to hold fishing seasons for nearly a decade while a permit application was pending.

However, several groups threatened to sue NOAA over the lack of a permit, which prompted to the Fish and Game Commission to order a suspension of the season in December. But Fish and Game officials and the groups reached a settlement that allowed most steelhead fishing to continue while NOAA officials processed the permit.

“During this difficult period, we greatly appreciate the patience of anglers, outfitters and guides, and other businesses and communities that rely on steelhead fishing,” said Fish and Game’s Fisheries Bureau Chief Jim Fredericks. “While it was NOAA’s inaction that created this situation, we appreciate NOAA staff working diligently to expedite this permit in a valid and legally defensible way and completing it when promised, despite a federal government shutdown that lasted more than a month.”