Poor ocean conditions blamed for low steelhead returns Low number of steelhead raises concerns for upcoming season Volume 90%


In September, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to close all fall steelhead season on the Clearwater River due to low returns.

A portion of the Snake River, downstream from Couse Creek to the Idaho/Washington state line, was also closed in order to protect steelhead potentially coming back to Clearwater. KMVT went to the Magic Valley Regional Steelhead Hatchery to find out what’s happened to the steelhead and why officials are seeing lower returns.

Following the closure on the Clearwater, there’s been confusion, Magic Valley Fisheries Manager Mike Peterson said. And the most important thing is people know there’s still opportunity to fish for steelhead.

“Steelhead fishing is still open,” Peterson said. “There’s been a lot of confusion that the season is closed statewide, because the Clearwater has a closure in effect. But most of the places people want to fish for steelhead are still open.”

And low steelhead and salmon returns have been caused due to poor ocean conditions and long-term fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean, called Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

“PDO it’s typically a 20 to 30 year cycle,” Peterson said. “We’re currently in the bottom of that cycle we hope, and we should start to climb out of it.”

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