Limit of one rainbow trout per day set on the Clearwater River | North West
Anglers fishing the Clearwater River will only be able to keep one Rainbow Trout Hatchery per day when the season opens on Friday.
Fisheries managers in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game expect another bad comeback from the coveted big B-run fish that drains into the river every fall. The agency predicts that this year’s return of large hatchery rainbow trout will reach around 7,000 at Lower Granite Dam, the third worst in the past 10 years, with only 2017 and 2019 posting lower numbers. They believe the reduced bag limit will ensure that enough rainbow trout escape the fishery and eventually reach the hatcheries to meet annual spawning targets.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission reduced the bag limit from two fish per day to one per day at a special meeting on Friday. When it goes into effect next week, the entire state will operate under the same Steelhead bag limit. The commission previously reduced the catch limits for rainbow trout on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.
Joe DuPont, regional fisheries director for the Idaho Department of Fisheries and Game in Lewiston, said in an update on the rainbow trout fishery that the agency believes the goals of Spawning hatcheries, called broodstock, can be achieved this year without implementing size restrictions.
In previous years with poor returns, the agency reduced bag limits and demanded that all fish over 28 inches be released.
DuPont said when the strategy was rolled out it was successful in protecting spawning stock needs in the Clearwater River hatcheries – so much so that bag limits were lowered to two fish per day during the spring seasons of rainbow trout. With that in mind, DuPont said the agency had recommended, and the commission agreed, to waive the length restrictions this year. This will allow for a larger harvest in the fall, when rainbow trout are best served at the table. Size restrictions or other changes could be implemented during the spring season if anglers begin to approach the estimated Clearwater River harvest share of about 2,200 rainbow trout. over 28 inches.
“Let’s say at the end of the year we caught 1,700 fish. Then we can go back to the type of season (with length limits) that we have had in the past, ”he said. “You can start this way or end this way. “
Fisheries managers expect an estimated 2,500 wild rainbow trout to return to the Clearwater River this year. Wild rainbow trout are protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and must be released by anglers. DuPont said the reduced bag limit on hatchery rainbow trout will reduce participation in the fishery and thus result in less bycatch of wild rainbow trout.