2022 Fall Fishing Adventure #2: Steelhead on the Clearwater River in Idaho.
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
My first 20# Steelhead on the Clearwater River in Idaho.
I had the opportunity to go steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River in Idaho recently and it turned out to be an incredible trip.
I was scheduled to travel to the Lewiston, Idaho area and gave Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing a call to see if he could fit me in for a Steelhead trip. I could come a day early if he had an opening. Toby told me that the fishing was great, and that I should definitely make the effort to come for a day of fishing. It was catch and release only, but there were lots of fish around and there was a good opportunity to land a 20 pound fish.
That was all I need to hear, I booked a spot on the boat with guide Jeff Aldrich. I texted Jeff and asked him what I could bring for lures and he let me know that the bite was on Storm Mag Warts. I had lots of Mag Warts so I rigged them all up with the new Open Eye Swivel and 7174 Techset Siwash from VMC and was ready to go. Click HERE to see how I rigged my Storm Mag Warts with an open eye swivel and siwash hook.
Storm Mag Warts, Rigged with VMC Open Eye Swivels and 7174 Techset Siwash Hooks, Pautzke Fire Gel and Coon Shrimp Cured with Pautzke Fire Cure
I met Jeff at the boat ramp in Lewiston at 7:00am and loaded my gear in the boat. It was cold but clear. As it turned out, I was the only angler in the boat...no one else booked a trip today...My luck was starting out good!
We motored up river and got the boat into position. Jeff hooked a coon shrimp cured in Pautzke Fire Cure on the front hook, and I loaded up some Pautzke Fire Gel in steelhead scent on my Storm Mag Wart. We began back trolling the plugs and it only took about 5 minutes for the rod to fold over. We landed our fist fish by 7:30 am - a beautiful Clearwater Steelhead.
Jeff with the first fish of the day!
We fished that area for about 30 minute and landed one more fish, which was great, but Jeff said he wanted to move to see if he could find a more productive spot. We motored up river a few miles to a new location, it was a decision that turned out to be the right move.
We got settled in to the new location and set up the drift. Just a few minutes in the outside rod folded over. I picked up the rod and a beautiful big steelhead came flying four feet out of the water. It was a hot fish that took me around the boat several times before we got it into the net.
Beautiful Clearwater Steelhead!
For the next few hours we worked that same drift and every single drift we hooked a fish - all on Storm Mag Warts with Pautzke Fire Gel. They were all big beautiful B run steelhead. It was an absolutely incredible morning of fishing.
The big fish just kept on happening!
We had caught at least 10 fish when Jeff pulled the boat over to the bank and started making a shore lunch of hamburgers on the grill. I don't know if was because we had such a good morning, or it was warm food on a cold day, or if Jeff is simply an incredible chef, but it was one of the best burgers I have ever had.
Jeff cooking burgers for lunch - quite possibly the best burger I have ever had!
After lunch we got back in the boat and set up on the same drift. On the fist pass we hooked a big 37" fish. It was a beautiful fish - not the elusive 20 pounder I was looking for, but a beautiful fish. The fishing remained consistent for the next hour or so, with the brighter colored Mag Warts catching most of the fish in the afternoon. I was still hopeful that we could get a 20 pound fish, but if the day ended without it, I could not complain because I have never had a steelhead fishing trip even close to what was happening on this day.
37" steelhead on the fist pass after lunch!
We started out the next drift, back trolling our Mag Warts and made it through the hole without a bite - I think it was the first time that had happened. Jeff continued back trolling down the river and said that sometimes there is a few hanging at the tail end of the drift. As we got towards the end, the back rod got slammed. I grabbed the rod and instantly knew that this was a bigger fish. It porpoised it couple of times a long way from the boat, but we could not get a good look at it. It made a run straight up river towards the boat and it was all I could do to catch up to it. As it came near the boat, and we got our first look at it, we both knew it was a good fish. From that point on, not a word was spoken on the boat, I am not sure that I even took a breath. This was the fish I had been hoping for, and a lot could still go wrong. Jeff kept the boat in great position and the big steelhead did everything it could to get free. It rolled, made runs, went around the boat, but the hooks held and we finally got it into the net.
Jeff removed the hooks and lifted it out of the net - it was a beautiful hatchery steelhead that looked every bit of 40 inches. I quickly put a tape measure on it and it was 39"....one inch short of what is standard for a 20 pound steelhead. Jeff said, "get a girth on that thing, it is fat", so I took the measurement and it was 20 inches around. We released it back into the river and it shot back to the deep water.
An incredible fish and an incredible day with Reel Time Fishing on the Clearwater River in Idaho.
I pulled out my phone and went to all the steelhead calculators I could find. Every single one of them came back at over 20 pounds!! It ranged from 20.077 pounds to 22.6 pounds depending on the site. Finally a 20 Pound Steelhead!
We continued fishing for another hour or so and around 3:30 we called it a day. It was an absolutely spectacular day of steelhead fishing on the beautiful Clearwater River. We landed 14 steelhead on the day - amazing!
If you ever get a chance to fish the Clearwater, I would highly recommend booking a trip with Reel Time Fishing, they are extremely professional and do an incredible job!
Thanks for reading,
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