The Northwest's Premier Outfitter offering guided fishing trips on Idaho's Clearwater and Snake Rivers, American Falls Reservoir, CJ Strike Reservoir, Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, and the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.
Sitting here typing this email the Clearwater is definitely blown out, but it gives me a chance to give everyone an update on the awesome fishing we have been experiencing. Over the past month we have been having one of the best Spring Chinook salmon seasons of recent memory. We are filling our boats with both fish and happy customers on a daily basis, and it just so good to be experiencing this fantastic season here at home.
The best part about it all is that this Clearwater Spring Chinook season is far from over. With the awesome number of fish, and high water we are almost definitely looking at another two weeks of salmon fishing here on the Clearwater before we head out for the summer and make our yearly salmon camp on the Upper Columbia.
We are looking to get back out on the Clearwater this Wednesday, and fishing is going to be incredibly good. The best part is we have boats open almost daily for the next two weeks, so if you are interested in getting in on our Spring Chinook season make sure to give our office a call today and let’s get you booked.
Barry is currently down in the Columbia River gorge near Hood River, Oregon fishing Drano Lake, and the Wind River. I was awaken this morning by our first Spring Chinook of the 2022 season!
Barry will be fishing this area for the next 2 1/2 weeks, and it’s such a great opportunity to catch these wonderful fish. It’s amazing how good a spring chinook tastes on the grill, and once you have experienced it you will definitely understand why we crave this fishery so much!
If traveling to the Columbia river gorge is just a little too far that’s ok because our flagship fishery, Idaho’s Clearwater is just about to kick off. We are currently booking dates starting the 15th of May, but if a good push of fish comes up a little early we will be here. The Clearwater Spring Chinook Fishery is our absolute favorite of the year, and is the catalyst that got us into the salmon guiding lifestyle.
We have opening for both Drano Lake, and the Clearwater here in Idaho, so don’t hesitate as this is a fishery that goes very quickly once the fish arrive.
Sitting here today at my dining room table I have to say I’m glad I’m not out on the river. We are in the middle of a late February cold snap and the temperature here at my Deary, Idaho home was a balmy -1 degrees yesterday morning. Today things have warmed up a little, and by the weekend we should be seeing some much more normal temperatures. Saturday the 26th of February will most likely be my last day on the Clearwater for our 2021/2022 season. While we look to close one season, we are looking forward to lots of trips chasing Walleye, Trout, Crappie, Perch, Salmon, and Sturgeon both in Southern Idaho and the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. I also wanted to take a moment to look at some MAJOR changes coming to our steelhead season on the Clearwater starting this fall.
For the past 30 plus years the Steelhead season on Idaho’s Clearwater River has pretty much remained the same. We have had a very simple to understand season structure where the river was catch and release for steelhead through October 14th with catch and keep season opening on October 15th and running through the entire rest of the season. Starting Fall 2022 everything changes!
For the Fall of 2022 Clearwater anglers will have drastically different regulations then they have been accustomed to. Keep season for Steelhead will now open September 10th and Run through October 14th, then from October 15th through November 10th the Clearwater will be catch and release only for Steelhead. This is a drastic change in how we operate our Fall. October 15th – November 10th has traditionally been our busiest time of year. We are prepared to make the adjustment, and these changes will actually offer some really exciting opportunities!
Clearwater anglers will now have the opportunity to fish for and keep Steelhead early in the year when their table quality is at its peak, and in addition we will be able to very effectively target both Fall Chinook and Steelhead during the same trip. In all honesty for a lot of years it never made sense to me why we could keep steelhead on the Snake, but if we moved into the Clearwater they were off limits.
Like everything in this industry we are constantly having to make adjustments, and we will adjust and hopefully thrive with these new regulations. Will this be frustrating? Will we get tired of answering questions and doing Fish and Game’s job of educating our customer and the public about this regulation change? The answer to these questions is a resounding yes, and all I can hope for is that in three years when regulations are re-visited, that we don’t enter a cycle where a few interest groups are able to convince fisheries managers that regulations should be changed again. This change in steelhead season will have absolutely 0 impact on harvest numbers, and will in fact allow Clearwater anglers the ability to harvest more steelhead bound for other Idaho and other Snake and Salmon River destinations.
Our plan moving forward for 2022 is to bring more of our Fall Chinook business home to the Clearwater where we will be able to target both Fall Chinook and Steelhead. Our Fall Chinook limit will once again be 3 adults and unlimited jacks, combine that with a Steelhead limit of 2 hatchery adults, and the possible addition of 2 Coho and it becomes very obvious that early Fall on Idaho’s Clearwater will be the place to be. I am excited to be able to fish all Fall from home. I always fish better when home every night, and the Elk and Deer in our home units better be ready as my archery season, that I had given up to fish the Hanford Reach, will be fully active again. All in all we are used to constantly changing runs, regulations, and angler preferences, this regulation change will be no different and we will be here excited to show our customers how awesome Idaho’s Clearwater is in early Fall. We hope you will be as excited as we are and willing to embrace some new opportunities!
We have been home from the Oregon coast now for about 10 days and in that time we have spent some great days fishing for Fall Chinook on the Clearwater and Snake Rivers out of Lewiston, Idaho. Although we love to fish in Astoria it just doesn’t quite measure up to our local fisheries and sleeping in our own beds. The confluence as we call it is one of our favorite fisheries and we can’t be more excited to be catching fall Chinook at home in Idaho.
The confluence is a unique fishery as the cold clear waters of Idaho’s Clearwater meet the slightly stained warm waters of the Snake River. The Clearwater this time of year is often running at around 50 degrees when it meets the hot 70 degree water of the Snake. These are the conditions that allow this fishery to thrive. Migrating salmon and steelhead bound for the Snake, Salmon, and Clearwater rivers seek this cold water refuge. While the Clearwater fish tend to shoot straight up the Clearwater, the Snake and Salmon River fish hold up, hang out, and wait for water temperatures on the Snake to cool down before continuing their migration, and it’s these holding fish that provide us with fantastic fishing.
For salmon the confluence is primarily a troll fishery although there is a strong following of bobber and shrimp fisherman that do very well for steelhead, and also catch a few salmon while targeting steelhead. We absolutely love to troll and this fishery is a trollers dream. Our go to set ups are almost identical to the other troll fisheries we fish throughout the Columbia River Basin. We fish 360 style flashers with superbaits or spinners as our lures of choice, and all of this is easily accomplished without the use of downriggers.
When targeting salmon in the confluence we tend to try and keep our gear within about 5 feet of the bottom. Utilizing lead cannon ball weights and line counter reels. Our go to depths the past few outing have been to run 12 ounces of lead at 30 and 35 feet on our line counters, and 8 ounces at 50 feet. Water depth ranges in in the confluence from 25- 40 or so feet and the above numbers do a great job of having us in the zone at all times.
Another thing to keep in mind when fishing at the Confluence is that trolling speed is your friend. These Chinook seem to like a fast troll, and we want to see a deep thump on the rod telling us that our flashers are working well. If your not getting that deep thump, then speed up. Also speed can be used to raise and lower your gear when trying to fish over shallower humps. If you need your set up to raise up just simply go faster and get your gear up and over the hump. Often times these speed changes are really what get these salmon to bite.
Like we stated before this is one of our favorite fisheries and the flat calm waters of the Snake and Clearwater Confluence are a great place to hone your salmon skills. So, grab some canned tuna, a handful of 3.5 Colorado Spinners, and your favorite superbaits and get out on the water.
Had a great day today on the Clearwater River working for Reel Time Fishing! It’s looking like at least the upper river will be open this next week. Kyle has open boats the 14th, 15th, and 16th this week. Give us a call at 208-669-1569 and let’s get your trip set up.
Had a great day on Idaho’s Clearwater River this past Sunday. The river finally dropped into shape and we put easy limits in the boat! This great action will continue until the season closes. All Clearwater trips are done as employees of Reel Time Fishing