Some rivers are recognized to carry report fish—and the Clearwater in Idaho is one in every of them. In October, the river kicked out each a state report steelhead and a coho salmon, only a few days aside. Each anadromous (ocean-going) species make spawning migrations up the Columbia and Snake Rivers earlier than getting into the Clearwater on the japanese fringe of Idaho, the place the species are open to leisure angling.
On October 6, Kyriacos Panayiotou—an angler from McCall—was Spey fishing on the river when one thing enormous grabbed his fly. Spey fishing is a method first pioneered by Atlantic salmon anglers in England and Scandinavia, however since tailored to Pacific Northwest waters. It entails utilizing an extended (normally 13-foot) fly rod to throw an extended roll solid into the middle of the river. With some correct mending, the road comes taught at a downstream angle, and the fly “swings” broadside throughout the present towards the financial institution.
Takes on a swung fly are recognized to be aggressive, particularly with early-fall, warm-water steelhead, and the hit on Panayiotou’s fly was no exception. He was fishing a full-floating line, with the fly trailing just under the floor. “At round 30 levels of a swing, this lovely wild steelhead buck boiled to the floor and grabbed the fly with authority,” he informed Idaho Fish & Sport. “The classic reel may do nothing in slowing down this fish.”
Panayiotou landed the fish on a gravel bar, measured it on a pocket tape measure, snapped a photograph, then launched it again into the river. It taped out at 41 inches, beating the earlier catch-and-release report by 1.75 inches. The fish, nevertheless, was nonetheless a couple of inches shy of the general 44-inch, 30-pound behemoth caught (and killed) out of the river in 1973.
Steelhead of that caliber are uncommon, however not unparalleled within the Clearwater, which is understood for it’s strong “B-run” of steelhead—fish that spend two or three years within the ocean, versus one-salt “A-runs.” In response to Clearwater fisheries supervisor Joe DuPont, the variety of steelhead within the 40-plus inch vary is lower than one % of the general run within the common 12 months. His estimate is predicated on a subsample of migrating fish which can be trapped, measured, after which launched at Decrease Granite Dam on the Oregon-Washington border. This 12 months, of the 261,706 steelhead that had been trapped, solely 4 had been 41 inches or longer.
However steelhead aren’t the one large fish kicked out of the Clearwater yearly. The river additionally boasts a few of the finest chinook and coho runs within the state. And on October 13, Matt Hosking of Lewiston nailed what he thought is likely to be a brand new state-record coho.
He dragged the fish to a close-by grocery retailer to weigh it on a scale—the place it clocked in at 11.78 kilos. It barely eked previous the earlier report by 0.48 ounces.
Clearwater coho had been as soon as utterly extinct within the drainage. Though formally declared extirpated in 1985, it’s seemingly that they had already been utterly eradicated many years earlier. The present coho run is the results of a hatchery reintroduction program by the Nez Perce tribe starting in 1994. It wasn’t till 2014, nevertheless, that there have been sufficient fish returning for the state to open a leisure fishery. And, in line with DuPont the 2023 run was solely the third actually robust run because the reintroduction program started—2021 and 2022 had been the opposite two.
“There are greater Coho on the market,” DuPont stated, “However not many. Based mostly on the two,400 Coho we now have trapped at Decrease Granite Dam this 12 months, solely two would surpass the scale of this fish.”
Hosking is equally as astounded by the catch. “All of my years fishing, I get to lastly get my title within the state report books,” he wrote in a Fb publish.
In an period with so many state data nonetheless standing from the early- to mid-1900s, it’s simple to overlook that report fish are nonetheless on the market. The Clearwater in Idaho is now fluid-proof that report fish are nonetheless swimming—you simply should toss a line in.
Characteristic picture by way of Idaho Fish and Sport Salmon Area Fb.