The Clearwater is a diverse river system originating in the Bitterroot Mountains and running westward through Idaho toward the Snake River. The steelhead portion of our business is based out of Orofino, Idaho. We guide our clients on drift boat trips along a 70 mile stretch between Kooskia and Lewiston, which offers spectacular views and even more spectacular fishing.
The Clearwater River’s fishing reputation is built around “B run” steelhead. “B run” fish spend an extra year or more in salt water compared to the typical “A run” fish. The vast majority of the Clearwater’s fish are B run steelhead. These fish are typically 28–34″ long and weigh between 8 and 14 pounds. The Clearwater river gets 30,000 to 40,000 of these fish each year – more than any other river in the lower 48 states.
These steelhead are truly spectacular, putting up an incredible fight when hooked, and display a vibrant range of color. When steelhead start their spawning migration, they are shiny chrome. By the spring, they look like a brightly colored rainbow.
Prime steelhead season starts in the fall and continues through the late winter. The fall catch and release season begins in September and runs through October 14. After October 15th, you can begin taking your catch home. Many people enjoy eating this firm, flavorful fish and say it tastes similar to salmon.
The river fishes very well through November and December. As the season progresses, many of the steelhead move from the Snake River into the Clearwater. Additionally, many of the steelhead which will ultimately migrate to the Snake and Salmon Rivers move temporarily to the Clearwater River to enjoy its cooler water.
The “Spring” steelhead season for us can start in late January, depending upon weather and ice, and extends into March. There is a theory that the water needs to warm up for steelhead to become active. However, we have great success early in the year when the fish have had time to get acclimated to the colder water over the winter months.
On the Clearwater also has a team of experienced, dedicated spey fishing guides. These guides can provide spey casting instruction for the enthusiastic beginner. They know the river intimately and provide our guests with a spectacular steelhead fishing experience.