Steelhead fishing normally runs through the winter and into spring, but this year the season will end early, on December 7, and remain closed until further notice.
The Lewiston Tribune reports Fish and Game officials decided to end the steelhead season early, after notice of a potential lawsuit by several conservation groups. They hoped to avoid running up legal fees in a case they couldn’t win.
The groups intended to sue the state over a missing federal permit, which made an exception for accidental steelhead deaths due to fishing. It expired in 2010 and hasn’t been renewed by the federal government, despite a draft replacement plan and permit application submitted by the state in the same year.
But early closure might hurt local outfitters that depend on steelhead fishing, many of whom had no warning about the missing permit. Evelyn Kaide, owner of The Guide Shop and Clearwater Drifters in Orofino expressed her frustration:
“I am probably not going to be here very long because north Idaho depends on these fish. And I book a year in advance and now I’m getting phone calls wanting to know why it was closed and I don’t have any answers other than what I’m reading in the papers.”
Idaho’s steelhead plan is open for public comment until December 6, an important step in the permit renewal process. The Fish and Game Commission hopes to reopen steelhead fishing for part of the spring season.
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