October is a prime month for catching one of Idaho’s most iconic fish — the steelhead. Like anadromous salmon, these rainbow trout are born in rivers or hatcheries and migrate to the ocean before returning to their home rivers and streams to spawn. Steelhead that spend one year in the ocean, known as A-run fish, are usually between 24 and 30 inches in length, while B-run fish, which live in the ocean for multiple years, can grow to more than three feet long!
Most steelhead fishing in Idaho is done on the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers. It is often hard work, with anglers spending a full day on the river for the chance to hook a fish or two, usually using jigs, crankbaits, spinners or bait including shrimp and roe. Here, Boise angler Cora Schmidt shows off a beautiful fish she caught on the Salmon River.
The fall steelhead season is open through Dec. 31, with a daily limit of one fish per angler. Keepers must be hatchery fish, marked by the absence of an adipose fin. Wild fish with intact adipose fins must be released. Steelhead fishing also requires barbless hooks and a special permit. For a full list of seasons, recent fish counts, fishing tips and harvest rules (which can change), visit the Idaho Fish and Game website at www.idfg.idaho.gov. Tight lines!
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures and questions with him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.tightlines208.com for the latest local fishing reports and upcoming class offerings.